According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, each season is intricately related to a specific stage of development, element, organ, climate, emotion and taste. This serves both to help explain our physical and emotional states in any given season as we experience our inter-connectedness to the earth and one another, as well as to offer guidance to help us achieve our optimal health.
As we move away from the expansive days of summer, autumn is a time to embrace routine and structure. Days are increasingly shorter, leaves fall from the trees, and warm food and drinks prevail.
Here are five tips to help you live your best fall season:
1. Practice Letting Go
Make like the trees, and shed what is no longer serving you. Mental and physical clutter can be overwhelming and stands in the way of progress and growth. Letting go of old habits or beliefs, cleaning out a closet, or moving away from an unhealthy relationship can all be ways to feel lighter and move into the next season with ease. Letting go also makes room for new sources of inspiration!
2. Eat Warm Foods and Incorporate Spices
During the cooler months, eating foods that are raw or cold in nature contribute to damp accumulation, which can be experienced as heaviness, lethargy or congestion. This is the perfect time for nourishing soups, stews and stir-fries. Incorporating spices such as cinnamon, ginger and clove help to keep the lungs clear of congestion and enhance the defensive qi, which plays a major role in keeping us healthy.
3. Practice Breathing and Work Through Grief
As the Lung organ system is most active in fall, it is a great time to take deep, cleansing breaths. This stimulates the Lung qi, enhancing the immune system and also contributing to emotional well-being. Try inhaling chest-opening essential oils, such as eucalyptus, frankincense or pine. Sadness and grief are emotions that are often experienced in the autumn season, and breathing exercises can help to move these feelings in a healthy way.
4. Soothe Dryness
While the lungs prefers to be mostly dry, it is easy at this time of year for the Lung system to become overly dry. This dryness can be readily seen in irritated nasal passages, a scratchy throat, and chapped skin anywhere on the body. It is important to stay hydrated, incorporate honey into your warm drinks, keep your body well moisturized and possibly use a humidifier at night.
5. Protect Your Neck, Boost Your Qi, and get a Seasonal Tune-up
TCM theory states that wind is the cause of many illnesses, and that it easily enters the body through the back of the neck. Wearing a scarf or a hoody helps to protect against a wind invasion, and enhances the defensive qi. This qi is controlled by the Lung organ system, and is especially vulnerable around the change of seasons. Everyone who has been treated in my clinic has heard me say, “Come in to see me at the first sign of anything, and if you’re well, come in once a season.” So, here we are in autumn…schedule an acupuncture treatment for any symptoms you may be having, or for your fall seasonal tune-up. Tune-ups help to keep you and your family healthy!