Much like the trees in fall, conserving their energy by extracting it from their leaves and sending it to their roots to store it for the coming seasons, we humans go inward preparing for the winter as well. There are many ways in which our bodies get ready to “hibernate”, one of the most obvious is that it produces less energy in preparation for the slowing down, that the change in weather has triggered. Because the weather is cooler, our bodies send warmth to our internal organs to keep them healthy.
Western thought concentrates on working continuously, forgetting that rest is as important as work, and that without rest we could not heal and would eventually collapse. The body has the innate ability to heal itself but cannot access this information and put it to use unless or until we rest. This is why the best way to heal from or prevent a cold or flu virus is to get plenty of rest.
In fact, sleeping is key to reducing the length of the average infection. In a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 153 healthy men and women were studied to see how sleep affected their chance of coming down with a cold. The results showed that those who slept an average of less than seven hours a night were nearly three times more likely to develop a common cold than those who reported eight or more hours per night in the weeks leading up to the experiment.
Restorative practices like yoga, meditation and Tai Chi can all keep blood flowing and stress reduced as the weather cools down and because the movements are slow, smooth and concentrated, relaxation is a natural byproduct. Bonus: They can all be done indoors where it’s nice and dry.
Our favorite restorative way to care for our bodies during this time is through massage. Since we are less active in the cold and damp our bodies can accumulate more toxins in our muscles, often leaving you feeling tired and achy and lowering your overall immunity. The increased circulation and the “milking” of toxins from the muscles that massage provides can help to shield you from fatigue, colds and the general malaise that sometimes accompanies the change of season. We find that clients often need more gentle work, from cranio-sacral to energy work at this time to help nourish the inner as well as the outer.
In addition, the use of bath salts helps keep things circulating as well and the magnesium in Epsom salts helps the body to process toxins and provides a better night’s rest. And the comfort derived from warm soups and comforting drinks like hot teas and cocoa during the winter do more than just remind you of childhood, they too, increase circulation and help to thin mucus secretions and moisten airways, reducing the overall duration or probability of a virus taking hold.
Whatever you do as the weather cools, it’s important to take the time to pause and evaluate where you are and where you are going. Remember to appreciate the slow moments of a busy holiday season spent with friends and loved ones, shoring yourself up in warmth and love for the year ahead.
If you’d like to give the gift of slowness and health through massage this holiday season, see our Specials page or contact Tara or Esther directly at:
Tara Krupich, LMT 503-781-2531
Esther Bell, LMT 503-866-3060