5 tips to enjoy the festive season with Chinese medicine

By: Dr Jason Chong (Traditional East Asian Medicine Physician)

Ho Ho Ho! The festive season has snuck around again, bringing a flurry of celebrations with friends and family and the challenge of finding the perfect gift to express our sentiments towards loved ones.

While we enjoy the festive season, applying Chinese Medicine‘s wisdom can help to balance the extremes of this period, keeping us in better health.

This time can be lots of fun, but also challenging with family tensions and relationship issues coming to the forefront. The stress of last-minute shopping can wear one out mentally and physically, and the extra rich food and festive booze place an extra burden on our digestive systems.

Often we feel burnt out after it all, feeling like we need a holiday to recover. This is often the catalyst for New Year intentions to look after our health.

Christmas is a very Yang time of the year in Australia. Summer has arrived, the most Yang time of the year, bringing with it all the associations of the Fire element.

We tend to be more social (willingly or not) and extra busy trying to prepare for Christmas / New Years celebrations whilst wrapping up work commitments for some time off during this period (or for those in service industries often working extra hours).

Part of the essence of Chinese medicine is to embrace the nature of the season we are in, so all this celebrating fits in perfectly! Here are 5 tips to help keep us healthy throughout this season

1 – Control your intake

Chinese Medicine is all about balance – there is nothing wrong with some indulgence here and there but keeping it moderate helps avoid us tipping the scales too far.

Don’t overeat, only fill yourself to 70% full. This should apply to alcohol consumption too.

Whilst the warm nature of this season invites some more cooling influences in our diet (opposite to the advice for cooler winter months) to balance the heat and reintroduce moisture, we must be careful of overdoing it. Our digestive system works best in a warm environment, being happiest when everything consumed is at room temperature or above.

This means minimising ice creams and iced drinks, especially if our digestion is already struggling with many heavy and indulgent meals around this time.

Drinking a warming tea with you meals Pu’er or Chrysanthemum tea will help with digesting Christmas lunch.

2 – Have fun

The intrinsic nature of the Fire element in this season is about external communication and joy.

Allow this to be indulged by having a laugh and participating in activities which give you the most joy (and feel ok in avoiding those which provide no joy).

3 – Make time for movement

Exercise and movement of the body is a full expression of the Wood element. By keeping our body moving we are able to generate the healthy, joyful expression of the Fire element and summer.

This movement is also beneficial to expel the internal heat and dampness generated from our dietary indulgence and ensuing couch potato vibe.

Generating some light sweating while exercising can also have a detoxifying effect on the body.

4 – Rest

All of the demanding Yang activity may have a resonance with the season, however, we must be mindful to keep a balance of Yin to counter this.

This means not overbooking ourselves and allowing time to rest and nourish ourselves. Take a few days away from shopping and parties to just be at home and rest.

Ensure you get enough sleep, those late-night Christmas parties should be balanced with a full nights rest, making sure you try to get to sleep before 11 to enjoy the most restorative hours of sleep according to the flow of Qi through the organs.

5 – Give to yourself

Our focus becomes externalised when considering our Christmas shopping list. Finding the perfect expression of your sentiments towards others brings your attention to those in your friend and family circles.

Whilst this is very important, don’t forget yourself!

Including yourself on your Christmas shopping list ensures you are balancing the external (Yang) with the internal (Yin). Plus this way you can be sure to receive at least one thing you know you will love under the tree this year!

Of course, if it all becomes too much physically or emotionally, then seeking some treatment to help yourself regain some balance is appropriate.

A session of acupuncture, or some herbs, can do wonders to help reset oneself from the festive season, and indeed help set intentions towards the new year.

Very often we make resolutions to do many things for our health in the New Year and Chinese medicine is a fantastic tool to help propel your journey along this path.

Have a great festive season!

What else would you like to know?

Thanks for reading this far. What are your best tips for the festive season? Let me know in the comments below, I read and respond to every one!

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Dr Jason Chong (Traditional East Asian Medicine Physician)

Traditional East Asian Medicine Physician. Educator.

Jason is the owner and principal practitioner at Dantian Health, providing consultations for Classical Chinese Herbal Medicine and Japanese Acupuncture in Melbourne, Australia.

He is a qualified acupuncture physician, Classical Chinese herbal medicine clinician, shiatsu practitioner and tuina therapist, Oriental therapies educator and director at the Australian Shiatsu College.

Jason's qualifications include:

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