Home > Health Articles > Winter: Resting or Feasting?

By Talena W. DeBaun, BA, ABT, LAc

In the fall it is time for clearing out, letting go, and starting to think about the new. We clean closets, throw things away, and get new clothes. But as we move into WINTER, we begin to draw our energies back into our center. In the Ancient Chinese Five-Element Philosophy, Winter is represented by the cool depths of the Element, WATER.

Storage, Consolidation, Regeneration

Just as Winter is considered the end of the year here in the West, the same was so for the Ancient Chinese. They saw this time as the culmination of all that had gone before in the yearly cycle. The Sun appears to drop lower behind the Earth; days get shorter; the weather gets colder. In temperate zones, the sap in the trees goes down into the roots, the leaves have already all fallen away, and the squirrels have stored the Summer's harvest. The whole world of nature moves into its core.

In the West we often see Winter as a time of ending and death. But the Ancient Chinese saw it as the time of Storage, Consolidation, and Regeneration. The seeds of plants lay resting, transforming the accumulated nurturance of the year into the new shoots that would sprout up in a few months.

In the human realm it was the time to go inward. Many of us, even in the warm desert, begin to feel more introverted in this season. If it were not for the various holidays we have, beginning with Thanksgiving, we would probably stay at home, preferring to sit by the fire, rather than socialize.


So what is the BIGGEST PROBLEM we experience at this time of the year? Over-Celebration. Although it is the time of the year for going within, we find ourselves constantly running around. We go shopping, we entertain, we attend large family gathering, and have office parties. All of these take the energy we should be storing at this time of the year, and dissipate it in exhausting, and sometimes tension-filled situations. What do we do about this? We can't just ignore the holidays. What I have found to be most helpful for my clients is to follow these guidelines.

Holiday Rules of Moderation:

  • Carefully choose which celebrations you really want to attend. Only go to them.
  • Come home earlier than usual.
  • Only give the presents you must, buying ahead of time, or out of catalogs, to avoid the crazy crowds.
  • Decide which rich foods will be the tastiest. Eat only those and avoid the rest of the junk.
  • Drink less alcohol than usual.
  • Take care of yourself, having warm baths, receiving acupuncture, reflexology, or massage.
  • Schedule downtime, away from others.
  • Eat warming foods, less salads or sushi.
  • Don't drink cold drinks.
  • And most importantly, get lots and lots of rest!

If you follow these guidelines, you will have a lovely holiday season, and have enough energy left over for the rest of the year.