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Empty Out and Go Inward This New Year

This season, consider putting your New Year’s resolutions on hold for a while and go through a full mind-body-spirit detox to reconnect with the world.

We’re deep into the winter season, and no doubt, this is a time for planning, prioritizing, and figuring out what we want for ourselves in the year ahead. For many of us, it’s a period of productivity that counteracts the indulgence of the holidays. This is when people are busy fulfilling their New Year’s resolutions, getting fit, and gearing up for what’s next.

But contrary to what we might think, winter is the perfect time for a “detox.” We tend to fill up a lot over the holiday season: with food, outings, gifts, celebrations, and even new goals. But winter is the season that represents the dark, cold, slow, internal Yin energy of traditional Chinese medicine. It’s the exact opposite of the Yang summer, whose energy is light, hot, quick, and expansive—perfect for lots of activity and movement.

Connecting with nature and the environment, as well as paying attention to what our bodies really need, has tremendous benefits for our mind-body-spirit health.

There’s a lot of benefit to flowing with the seasons and harmonizing with nature, which has been the very intention of traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. We might have plans for ourselves that are more aligned with our productivity-obsessed society, but the truth is, connecting with nature and the environment, as well as paying attention to what our bodies really need, has tremendous benefits for our mind-body-spirit health.

Seasonally, this is the perfect time to settle in and empty out. In traditional Chinese medicine, winter is linked with the kidneys, which contain our basic energy. To revitalize and strengthen the kidneys, it’s a good idea to get a lot of rest. Instead of filling our calendars with social engagements and workout dates, we can try “nesting” and going inward instead. Not only will this keep our immune systems robust, it will also offer us the kind of clarity and self-reflection we really need to go for the things we want in life.

Instead of filling our calendars with social engagements and workout dates, we can try “nesting” and going inward instead.

This season, consider putting your New Year’s resolutions on hold for a while. By going through a full mind-body-spirit detox, you’ll come out on the other side more relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to connect with the world.

The Perfect Winter Detox

Feed your body. Instead of going on a “diet,” eat in a way that makes you feel strong, alive, and connected to yourself. Often, this means cutting out junk and processed foods, drinking more water and nourishing herbal teas, increasing your consumption of fresh produce, and eating seasonally, in accordance with what’s available in your area. Also, be sure to move your body; this is a time of year when it’s easy to become sluggish, so make sure you take nature walks, do some gentle movement, or practice yin/restorative yoga. Also, don’t stay up too late burning the midnight oil. Go to sleep when you feel tired, and make sure you’re giving yourself the luxury of plenty of sleep; if you can steal short naps during the day, even better!

Nourish your mind. It’s all too easy to become overwhelmed with all the new projects, ideas, and to-do’s on our ever-increasing lists (which get bigger in the new year), but the idea is to feed your mind with the things that comfort rather than overwhelm it. Take time to journal and meditate on your thoughts and feelings. Listen to podcasts or read books that spark inner contemplation. Lessen the burden of emotional and physical clutter (e.g., by reducing your “friends” list and the people you follow on social media, cleaning out your wardrobe and getting rid of items you no longer need, taking a long digital detox, and spending less time on your gadgets in general).

Embrace your spirit. It’s important to connect with yourself in ways that allow you to move beyond the daily grind. This might include meditating and simply remembering to breathe, or allowing yourself intentional space for deep emotions like grief and sorrow. During this time, intense emotions can arise, and it’s a good idea to prioritize your “me” time so that you have plenty of space to connect with yourself. Whatever the case, do everything possible to increase your wellbeing and a sense of positivity and peace in your life.

Maintaining the Benefits of Your Winter Detox

See how integrating some of these suggestions into your life makes you feel. Maintaining your winter detox is all about figuring out what habits you need in your life in order to feel whole, inside and out.

More than anything, take the Yin gifts of the winter as constant reminders that it’s OK to not constantly be doing, doing, doing or consuming, consuming, consuming. Give yourself the gift of going inward and connecting with what matters most. I promise that by the time you get around to your New Year’s resolutions, you’ll feel strong and rejuvenated enough to take on every single one of them!

Artwork by Liam Ashurst

Angela Le

A leading integrative fertility expert, Angela Le is founder of Fifth Avenue Fertility Wellness in New York City, and one of the first acupuncturists in the country to focus only on fertility. Since 2001, her practice has supported, treated and empowered thousands of patients. As a leader in the women’s health movement, Angela is committed to embracing infertility as an opportunity for transformation and a catalyst for deeper healing and awakening.

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