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Have you noticed lately everyone is run down, tired, grumpy, or worse still sick with colds and flu’s? It’s well and truly winter here in Melbourne and the tell-tale signs are spreading through everyone as fast as you can say ahhchoo!

Fortunately, I haven’t been hit with the dreaded bugs so far this year (fingers crossed!). I think that it has something to do with the fact that I have given myself permission to hibernate!

It seems like today we try to act as if we have some kind of climate control internally set to a pleasant 25 degrees despite what is going on with the weather outside! All year round we expect our primitive bodies to keep up our rapid modern pace of life both work and play.

In previous years, I used to get every cold and flu under the cloud covered sun. I definitely burnt the candle at both ends and didn’t listen to the effects of Mother Nature on my body heading into winter.

Over the last few years, I’ve started to try a few different ways to help me survive winter with little more than dry skin and chapped lips (I’m working on that part now!). So here is my hibernation plan if you too want to snuggle in and stay well all winter…

Watch your energy!

 It is perfectly natural to feel a little more sleepy and sluggish around this time of year, embrace it and don’t feel guilty! Winter is a contracting time. Trying to force yourself to be too bouncy and expansive at this time is a recipe for disaster.

No amount of super foods and vitamins can compensate for some good rest. Beware and question unusual spurts of energy during winter. That “wired” feeling is most probably nervous energy possible fueled by warm delicious coffee or adrenal hormones. You will wind up depleted because your body is focusing on surviving not thriving!

Wear a S.A.C-Seasonally Appropriate Clothing and foot wear! 

We have all done it and you see it every weekend on your local bar strip. Yes you do need a coat even if the sun was shining when you left the house!

Once the nights turn cool in mid-Autumn, no matter how lovely the days are, cold and damp rise up through the ground. So it is time to give the ballet flats and open toed shoes a miss and don a pair of warm socks and boots. Warm shoes are of more importance then a hat or beanie – as one of my TCM Professors would say. Heat rises – as we all learnt in year seven science.

Remember to protect your neck (yes – the Wiggles were doing it right!) as the large superficial blood vessels and nerves that go to your brain can be startled into sudden contraction when you walk from your sweaty overheated house, workplace or shopping centre into the cold bustling wind outside. This can lead to stiff necks, headaches and frazzled immune systems.

Choose seasonally appropriate food & drink! 

If it doesn’t grow in winter or can’t be stored or preserved naturally without anything too artificial, then it is probably best to avoid it! Eat and drink warm stuff – soups, bone broths, slow cooked casseroles and stews, and herbal teas. Embrace seasonal eating. I promise it will make that ice-cream cone at the beach next summer so much better!

Bone and bone marrow foods are great. In TCM, winter is kidney time and the kidney energy governs the bones and the great marrow – the brain. So all those great minerals will nourish you to the bone not to mention give your immune system a boost! Think about this – in primitive times, all the other animals were probably laying low and hibernating too so you wouldn’t want to waste your energy running around hunting for nothing. Cooking up a broth with some old bones you had lying around your cave is most possibly your best bet and full of nutrients!

Nourish and nurture yourself!

As I said – winter is brain time! A time to slow down and think. Engage your mind with a classic movie marathon, snuggle up in bed and read that book you have been meaning to finish, or have deep philosophical conversations by the fire. Don’t feel bad for shirking wild social outings for cozy time. Winter is the Water Element in TCM so hot Magnesium salt baths or foot baths help defrost, warm and replenish you to the core. Add in essentials oils like Bergamot, Clove and Eucalyptus for immunity.

Take time just to enjoy taking it slower and nurturing yourself. Breathe – let go of rushing! Why not swap your run came rain, hail or shine attitude for a restorative in “cave” yoga sessions! When spring comes around, you will be ready to bloom!