How our needs vary with the seasons – Anna McMullen BHSc CM

What I love most about the work I do is that it gives me an opportunity to teach women how to care for their health, how to take ownership of their unique needs, and how to make those needs a priority in their lives.


Although we are still working our way through the last of this cold Melbourne Winter, we can see signs Spring is on the way. The warmth of the sun is more apparent. Trees are budding, blossoms are starting to appear. The smell in the air has changed, the earth smells of new growth.

I work with patients using NLP and coaching techniques, acupuncture, herbal medicine, as well as dietary and lifestyle advice to help support their health and wellbeing. This is a multifaceted approach, as true wellness is not simply an absence of disease. It is an embodied state, where both the physical and the emotional being are flourishing.


What you might not know, is we have different needs at different times of the year. The way we eat, exercise, socialise and think has a different impact on our bodies during Winter compared to Spring. When trying to achieve balance in our lives, paying attention to nature and the seasons is a way to honour our connection with our external environment. Today I will share with you the differences between Winter and Spring from a self care perspective.

Winter is the deepest and most Yin time of the year. Its energy is dark and retreating. Solid and feminine. It is stillness and introspection. It is the cold, dark earth, lying still and quiet, waiting patiently for the warmth of Spring to spark up fresh growth. This deep Yin energy supports our bodies in resting and rejuvenating. Our energy during Winter responds to activities which support this restful stillness. Gentle exercise such as contemplative walks in nature and Yin yoga are perfect exercises for this time.

Our digestion requires more solid, hearty food in Winter. Soul-warming comfort foods such as soups and stews help to warm us up, and supports our digestion in producing the Yang energy required to warm us and keep our immune systems strong and resistant to illness. Warming spices such as cinnamon, ginger, fennel and star anise have a warming and aromatic effect on the digestion, which helps us to get the most out of our meals. Try to avoid cold, raw or icy foods and drinks at this time of year, as these deplete the digestive energy.

Emotionally, this time supports deep introspection. Looking inward and taking stock is a process which works well at this time of year. Quiet contemplation and meditation are activities which support the Yin energy of Winter. A simple exercise to do at this time is to take a breath and cast your gaze inward, and search for that quiet place within. What thoughts arise as you do this? Ask yourself, what is it you need right now?

As we move in to Spring, the energy in nature changes and transforms from Yin to Yang. From quiet and still, to active and dynamic. As such, the way we look after ourselves must change. The movement of Spring is one of growth, of forward movement and activity. This is a great time of year to plan new things and to make changes in your life. Taking on a new physical or mental challenge is a great idea. Physical activity using strong, dynamic movement such as boot camp, cardio, or strong yoga all work well with this energy.

Our bodies require slightly lighter foods during Spring, less of the heavy, comfort foods and more lightly cooked meals. Stir fried, steamed or blanched foods work well to give our bodies the fuel they need to support our increase in movement and activity.

Harnessing the dynamism of Spring can work well if there are areas of your life which require an overhaul. The concept of Spring cleaning is based on this – the energy of Spring likes clear and uncluttered areas, so the energy has the freedom to move. This applies externally such as in your home environment, as well as your internal environment. This is a good time of year to pay attention to your thought processes. Are you weighed down by old ways of thinking which no longer serve you? Spring can be a good time of year to identify these and move forward, choosing clearer, cleaner ways of thinking and acting.

How our needs vary with the seasons - Anna McMullen BHSc CM 1

Although the pressures of our daily lives do not change much throughout the seasons, it is important to acknowledge that our physical and emotional needs do vary. Listening to our bodies and living in accordance with the seasons is a way of honouring ourselves and our connection with nature.

It also sends a message to the world that our needs are a priority, and that caring for the self is an important task. In doing so we can work towards a state of physical and emotional health in which the best aspects of our own nature can really flourish.

Anna is available at Mornington Chinese Medicine on Mondays.

To book your appointment please call ph: 5973 6886.