Whether you are celebrating Xmas or not, Winter time is, most likely for you, as an Expat in your adopted country, synonymous with a well deserved winter holiday! There’s a lot of magic around this time of the year: sparkly Christmas decorations, majestic snowy trees, and much more.

And yet, especially for busy Expats like you, there is a not so magical twist to this holiday season …

First of all That ever present winter question that has given you no respite so far: Should I stay or should I go? I’m sure you more than anyone else can relate to these words (although The famous Clash were referring to another type of life dilemma (that you are hopefully not experiencing).

Shall I (we as a family) go back “home”? Shall I (we) just stay here this time and plan a trip home later?

Once the “go” decision is made, the fun begins with flight arrangements, packing, the joys of travelling (particularly with small children), and continues with the stay at home, punctuated by all the catching up visits and chats to as many family members and friends as is humanly possible. Exhausting…

Once the “stay” decision is made, some will experience loneliness, isolation, they will miss their loved ones, miss the snow (if living in a warm country), the roasted dinner, the fireplace. Depressing…

Whether you are staying or going, the number one thing you need to do in order to secure a nice holiday and avoid exhaustion caused by all the travelling, and frantic visiting of family members and friends, is take care of your physical and emotional HEALTH.

This advice is given to you by Chinese Ancient Wisdom.

Healthwise, Chinese Medicine advises you to REST. This age old tried and tested system, based on the laws of nature, teaches us that winter is a time to protect and store, even restore our energy. By doing just this, we will allow our body to build up this energy in terms of quantity but also of quality. When comes spring and it is time to spend it, we are then sure to have plenty in store and to not risk running out of it!


In a practical way, it means that if you are an Expat who goes home, you will need to set aside as many quiet moments as you can (yes you can) to rest, to take naps, to set your boundaries and narrow down the number of visits planned.

If you are an Expat who is staying, if it is winter where you live, you can indulge yourself and go into hibernating mode without guilt, you can enjoy your favourite books and dvds and practice the art of cocooning.


In both situations, Chinese medicine will also advise you to eat nourishing unprocessed food, like pumpkin soups, bone broths, turnips, potatoes, cabbage, chestnuts, nice cereal porridge breakfasts, and to drink lots of…water.

It will also advise you to protect your lower back (where the kidney energy is stored) and always keep it warm (as a chinese medicine practitioner I advise all my patients to wear a kidney warmer (also called a belly warmer), it works wonders!

Winter time is a time when everything appears still, literally frozen – watching a live winter landscape feels like watching a photography, or it feels like someone has suddenly pressed the pause button.

However, it’s just an illusion (unrelated to the song, once again). Unlike the situation depicted in a previous post, Standstill and Autumn, stillness in winter is just apparent, it is only on the surface. Because deep down, it is a time when a lot is happening, slowly but surely, the trees are growing stronger roots.

Hexagramme 2 of the I-Ching also called Receptivity, is called a calendar hexagramme because it is linked to a particular season, which is winter. It is made exclusively of yin lines and therefore depicts an all Yin situation, meaning a situation which calls for a soft, gentle, slow, feminine attitude as opposed to a direct, firm, strong, fast action or behaviour.

It also calls for silence whenever possible. We often feel awkward when facing a moment of involuntary silence in a conversation. Yet silence is a beautiful gift that can be shared with family and friends.

Family gatherings are meant to be joyful moments of sharing, sometimes they are very challenging moments which can really try your patience. Silence will be your friend in these moments, your body and mind will thank you for being the wise one, for saving your energy and not spreading it in unproductive discussions.

“Receptivity” encourages us to cultivate a part of us that is able to receive, to welcome, to listen, to accept and enjoy being in the background.

Wishing you a receptive and restorative holiday season.

I would very much like to hear your thoughts, questions, feelings or personal experiences.