Self-Massage for Winter

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Dr. Sara Ptasnik
January 21, 2024 / 7 mins read

Season of Yin
We are deep in winter, which in Traditional Chinese Medicine is a time of Yin energy. With colder weather and shorter days, the season encourages us to rest and slow down, to be gentle with ourselves, and to give ourselves time to reflect. Think of a bear hibernating in winter to conserve its energy so that in spring, it is able to emerge in a time of renewed growth and expansion.

Yin-Yang Imbalance
It's easy in our society to be out of sync with Yin energy, especially around this time. In December, many of us are bustling to meet end-of-year deadlines, finish projects, and manage the rush of the holidays, while in January, we may feel pressured by New Year's resolutions and a sense of urgency to change and accomplish our goals. This surge of activity can deplete our natural reserves and lower our defenses, making it easier to get sick and run down with all the viruses spreading during winter.

When we are grounded and rested during this time, we can appropriately hold onto and store energy in the body's core. This keeps the abdomen, lower back, hands, and feet warm while the head remains cool and clear. But when we are stressed and over-engaged in Yang activity during this time, the energy rises and can get stuck in our heads and chests, leaving us out of balance. This can result in headaches, congestion, brain fog, jaw pain, stiffness in the neck and shoulders, and restriction in the chest. When heat gets stuck in the head, it also leaves the abdomen cold, which can worsen digestion and menstrual issues.

This energy imbalance can also lead to emotional disturbances like irritability, anxiety, and depression. If you want to learn more about this concept, I recommend the book, "Water Up, Fire Down" by Ilchi Lee.

Self-Massage Routine
So, how can we counteract this imbalance and restore our energy? One of my favorite ways, which I show you in the video, is through self-massage. This is a great way to slow down and check in with how you are feeling. Using the healing power of our hands, self-love, and intention, we can learn to release tension and blockages so that our energy can flow more freely.

Try it out and see how you feel! I also encourage you to practice massage with your loved ones (if you feel comfortable) as a wonderful way to connect with each other – but remember to communicate!

Additional Self-Care Strategies to Restore Qi

  1. going to bed earlier, taking an afternoon nap
  2. gentle mind-body practice like yin yoga, qigong, and tai-chi
  3. meditation and breathing practices
  4. minimizing electronics
  5. warm baths, swimming in a heated pool or hot tub
  6. warming soups and teas
  7. reflective journaling, poetry, art