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The air has a chill in the mornings now. I have gone from wearing the comfortable jackets, light shoes, and an occasional scarf to having a down coat, boots and a hat. And though I do have to bundle up to take a walk, it is still worth the effort. Knowing the elements and having a relationship with the elements is a natural part of living. Taking my walk today I noticed almost all of the leaves have fallen from the trees, but there are still a few that remain bright and glorious as we journey into the winter.

Staying in balance with the seasons is as natural as knowing what clothing to wear. In Chinese medicine, understanding the movement and flow in nature mirrors the changes that each of us experiences and feels as we move season to season. Just as the quiet, stillness and calm of the winter months give a sense of rest and rejuvenation for the cycle of all plant growth; we also need more rest now. Sleep that extra couple of hours as often as you can.

In our extremely busy culture we don’t exactly have a notion of hibernation, but I think that it is interesting that we do have a week when many of us take the time off between Christmas and New Years to do our version of hibernation spending time at home with our families. Try to add in reflective, quiet blocks of time during that week.

We also eat foods reflecting the needs of bodies during the cold months. While fresh salads in the summer months are natural to eat, in the winter enjoy eating warming foods such as hearty soups and stews. Take advantage of the root vegetables, squashes, beans and grains. Remember to drink warm drinks at this time.

Continue to take your outdoor walks. When winter storms prevent outdoor activities try other forms of exercise. Sign up for a tai chi or qigong class. Get back into a yoga routine or try it for the first time. These exercise forms are restorative and nourishing to the body. Also think about getting acupuncture to support your energy at this time.

Realize that winter’s movement is an inner journey. Allow yourself some time to go in and imagine what it is that you truly desire next in your life. And in the midst of it all experience your own sense of self, where you have been, who you are at this moment and feel an appreciation for all of it.