01 Jan 2016 7 Gentle Tips for a Winter Detox
Before you make a New Year’s resolution for a radical detox, fasting cleanse, extreme diet change or a dramatic change in your exercise routine, read this…
January is not a time for punishment. Whatever you’ve been up to, be gentle on yourself and don’t feel bad about it. Winter in Chinese philosophy is a time for introspection, exploration and planting the seed for new growth in spring. We might not have snow, but much of nature is still resting and regenerating, and so should you. It’s not because you’re lazy that you don’t quite feel like getting up early for the gym or a morning run. It’s dark and cold. You want warmth and nourishment. There’s a time and place for raw juice and salad, but it’s not the damp UK in winter.
Try following these tips instead:
- Keep hydrated. Start the day with a drink of hot water with a slice of lemon and/or ginger. Enjoy herbal teas and drink hot soup. Chicken soup has a lifting energy in Chinese medicine, one reason it’s so good when you feel run down.
- Choose nourishing foods. Don’t leave your body under-fed in winter. Eat most things warm and cooked, fall in love with root vegetables, especially sweet potatoes. You can even cook pears or bake apples to enjoy with warming spices. Think about cutting out added sugar. It can lower your immunity and exhaust your adrenals. In the Chinese approach, it weakens the core energetic system that processes food and thought. Can you find other ways to bring sweetness into your life?
- Exercise (gently) and breathe. Deep breathing, increased blood and lymph circulation and mild sweating encourage the elimination of toxins. Choose exercise you truly enjoy, adapted to your energy levels. You’re not looking to burn calories now. Try tai chi, qi gong, yoga, or just keep it simple with regular outdoor walks (but keep warm).
- Practise dry skin brushing before your morning shower. One third of your body’s toxins are excreted through the skin. Dry skin brushing can help decongest your pores, kick start your lymphatic system and improve your energy levels. Use a natural bristle brush and work from the extremities towards the heart in long sweeping movements, clockwise on the abdomen.
- Have manual lymphatic drainage (MLD). Any nurturing touch and massage is beneficial. MLD in particular will target your body’s own purification and drainage system, so a yearly course of treatments is an ideal reset. Contrary to what you might expect from its name, it’s like a very gentle massage.
- Take warm baths to relieve stress, soothe your muscles and soften your skin. Try Epsom salts, rich in magnesium and sulphates, well known for their health and detoxification benefits.
- Tune into your mind. If meditation or mindfulness aren’t your thing, relax with a good book. Let the short days and early nights remind you to slow down and nurture yourself from the inside while you get ready for Spring.
And remember, if you have any health concerns check with your doctor before making any changes to your lifestyle.
To a happy and healthy 2016!