We’re coming into the time of year when it seems like everybody you know has got some kind of cold, people are starting to be visibly worn down, and we’re all looking longingly towards some sort of break over Christmas.

If you’re nodding emphatically and feeling the end of year strain yourself, you should know two things: you’re definitely not alone, and there’s more you can do about it than you think.

Show of hands: who here is recently noticing more…

Back pain. Circles under your eyes. A general drop in energy.

Check, check, and check? These symptoms are all super common this time of year, and it has to do with your kidneys.

In Chinese medicine, your kidneys are kind of like your body’s batteries. They’re where you store your energy, the reserves you draw on when things are getting tough. If you want to make a correlation to modern, Western understandings of the body, just think about your adrenal glands — they sit right there on top of your kidneys, and perform that exact function of energy management.

As long as you’re giving your kidneys the support they need, everything’s good. But overdo it, get behind on sleep, get stressed, or go through life without giving your kidneys a little love now and then, and you’ll find that they get depleted.

If your kidneys are depleted, you’re depleted.

This is why you get that feeling of being run down, unable to focus, or unable to push through like you might otherwise be able to. Here’s the good news though: winter is prime kidney-restoring time.

The kidney is actually the main organ associated with winter, which means that whatever you do to support your kidneys during this season is going to be extra effective. So what can you do?

— Eat seasonally and locally as much as you can. Your body’s made to take in certain kinds of nutrition at different times of the year (it has to do with your gut microbiome, among other things), so if you can eat seasonally and locally, you’ll be giving your kidneys some extra, much needed nutrition. Bone broth, black beans and kidney beans, lamb, and dark leafy greens can all be good choices.

— Change your movement to suit the season. We’re designed to slow down this kind of year, so focusing your movement practice on restorative things like qigong, yoga, and gentle swimming can all be particularly good right now.

— Give yourself a gentle kidney massage. Make your hands into fists, put them on your back above your hips, and gently work them up and down. You can move more qi into the area that way, and you might even feel a spike in your energy after waking those kidneys up!

Above all, follow the cues of the season and rest as much as you need to. Taking the time to really go as far into the energy of winter as you can is going to let you spring forward with that much more power when the time comes!

As always, if you’d like some support as you go into the winter season — maybe amping up your immunity a little bit, giving your kidneys some extra support, or helping kick that cold for good — I’d love to be there for you. Find out how I can help here.