Living with the seasons: Winter

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Winter is a time of inward reflection, self-nurturing and hibernation. Living in accordance with the season is a key aspect of acupuncture theory. With the long nights and cold weather keeping us indoors, many people experience a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.

This emotional depression only occurs during the winter months. It is often associated with the lack of sunlight or low vitamin D levels.

While some find light-box therapy or Vitamin D supplements to be extremely beneficial, it is important to remember that when depression is severe, it is appropriate to talk with your primary care physician.

For mild to moderate depression, acupuncture can be immensely helpful. Knowledge of the natural rhythm of the seasons will help in understanding why we feel the way we do during the winter months.

Winter is in its essence, a season of inward reflection. According to acupuncture theory, each season is associated with an emotion – this pathological emotion is experienced when the body is not working optimally.

Winter’s emotion is fear. Fear is frequently felt with anxiety, loneliness, and depression. When your body is not in balance, then negative emotions can be felt out of proportion to the stimulus, but when the body is healthy, we transition through seasonal changes, and emotional fluctuations, without negative effects. One way to achieve balance is by living in accordance with the season – instead of going against it.

A healthy emotional response to winter is creating space for being calm and quite, allowing yourself to be more introspective by admiring the qualities within yourself. Going against the season is expecting your body to have the energy and stamina that you enjoy during the spring and summer months. Winter is about slowing down and going inward.

In winter, living in accordance with the season can help to ease seasonal depression, this means nourishing your body and spirit on a deeper level. Settling into the still and quiet can be achieved in several ways. Some enjoy reading a good book in a blanket with a favorite hot beverage.

While others enjoy creative activities such as writing, painting, or working on projects that have been put off for far too long, such as photo albums, a hobby in the garage, or a sewing project. Going to bed earlier, just as the sun sets earlier is completely appropriate.

Keeping warm to prevent those aches and pains from the cold can be helpful as well, especially for arthritis.

Even if you are not a winter enthusiast, making sure you still get outdoors at least a few times a week will help offset the winter blues. For those who enjoy winter sports, the invigoration of your favorite activity, the crisp air, or the calm of the woods is very therapeutic as well! 

This time of year is about being mindful of your energy levels. This includes where you choose to put your energy.

Are you using your time to do things that bring you satisfaction? Are you eating foods which nourish your body? Are your thoughts helping you or harming you? 

Utilize this winter as an opportunity to make space for the things in life that you enjoy. Turn off the television, stop scrolling on your phone and look towards an activity which has a deeper and more positive meaning for you.  

Christina Crawford is board certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and licensed by the state of New York. Crawford Acupuncture is located at 111 E. Chestnut St., Suite 203, in Rome. She may be reached via call or text at 315-225-1222 or online at CrawfordAcupuncture.com. Many insurance plans cover acupuncture.

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