Why Rest is the Perfect New Year's Resolution According to Chinese Medicine

Jan 01, 2023

As the start of a new year, many of us make resolutions to better our lives. If you're looking for something different this year, why not try making rest your New Year's resolution? Resting during the winter season helps preserve and rebuild energy and ultimately promotes health and well-being. As a Chinese Medicine practitioner, rest is an integral part of the winter season. Winter is the time when all of the energy from the plants move from the limbs and come to settle in the roots so that they have the energy to bloom in the spring. Winter is the time when animals curl up in deans and hibernate through the cold winter months. The sun wakes up late and goes to bed early. All of nature slows down during this time of year with the exception of us Humans. People stay just as active during the winter months as they do the rest of the year. We feel guilt for being tired and wanting to sleep when the sun goes down, thinking we are not productive enough. And when that ball drops at midnight, worldwide everyone makes a new resolution to exercise more, to be more productive, to start a diet, and wake up early. All of which goes completely against the natural energy of the season. 

This year let's make a new resolution that is more in tune with nature and Chinese Medicine. Let’s resolve to rest more during the winter months. Resting doesn't just mean sleeping it can include some restorative activities as well, like going for a walk, reading a book, journaling, taking hot baths, practicing yoga, Qigong, meditation, or doing something creative. These types of activities help restore balance in our lives and create space for us to take pause and clear our minds from all of the obligations we are trying to fulfill daily. So this New Year's let’s try something different and permit ourselves to rest more! This can be your perfect 2023 New Year's Resolution! One that will be easy to keep throughout the winter months. 

You may be wondering "ok, resting does sound nice, especially after the last few years, but what is this Chinese Medicine thing all about?" Well, I am glad you asked! Chinese Medicine is an ancient traditional form of medicine with over 5,000 years of history. It is based on the concept that all living things are interconnected and part of a larger whole. Chinese Medicine looks not only at physical health(Jing) but also at the energy (Qi) and spiritual (Shen) aspects of the health of the individual. Which is why it is considered holistic medicine. 

In Chinese Medicine, there are five elements or five phases which correspond to the five seasons throughout the year: spring, summer, late summer, autumn, and winter. Each season has its own unique energy which is expressed through its elements. Winter is associated with the element of water and its characteristic qualities of being calming, reflective, and restorative. Therefore it is recommended that to stay balanced during the winter season it is important to slow down and take time out for restful activities. This will help preserve energy (Qi) so you can use it when needed and also help rebuild your energy stores after periods of intense activity or stress. 

Rest is an essential component of health. We need both rest and movement. The yin and Yang Getting adequate sleep and taking time out for restful activities can help restore balance in life and promote health and well-being. Taking a break is essential for conserving energy and allowing it to be used adeptly when needed. It also helps replenish lost energy after strenuous or distressing times. Resting also helps the body prepare for major growth and development in the spring season. Could your resolution look like getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night during winter, avoiding overeating at night, limiting alcohol consumption before bed, practicing quiet activities after dark like reading or writing, and taking breaks throughout the day to relax? By recognizing our natural cycles and understanding that rest is just as important as activity, we can cultivate more harmonious lives for ourselves — one in which we don’t feel guilty for wanting to take it easy when the sun sets.

What if we hit the gym hard in the spring when the world at large is waking up from hibernation? Doing exercises when the energy of nature is waking up from a long rest and is ready to move after months of rest? Change in the diet becomes easier because we are not craving hot heavy foods, like stews, pot pies, root veggies, and casseroles. Instead, sports and new greens are in abundance. Waking up earlier becomes easier now that the sun is waking before 7 am! What if you changed your new year's resolution to a new season resolution? Do you think making positive changes throughout the year as the season changes could be beneficial? 

So this winter season, instead of trying to make a new year's resolution that you may struggle to keep throughout the year, why not try something different? Resolve with each changing season. Start by honoring your need for rest and taking time out for restful activities to preserve and rebuild your energy. Take advantage of the energizing power of nature’s cycles and use them to your benefit. By recognizing our natural cycles, we can cultivate more harmonious lives in which we don't feel guilty for wanting to take it easy when the sun sets. So let's start 2023 off right and embrace a new way of thinking about resolutions - one that honors balance and the importance of rest! Happy New Year! 

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