Greetings! The weather is shifting and fall is here. Now is a good time to prepare for the winter months by assessing where you are physically and mentally. Did you know that how well you take care of your health in the winter months can affect how strong you are come spring and summer?
In Chinese Medicine, following the seasons means that the body should start slowing down and storing for the winter, but the athletes I know don't typically start nesting at this time of year! What you can do instead, is be mindful of your body's vulnerabilities and prepare for them as best you can to avoid getting sick before you get to that starting line.
What Fall represents in Chinese Medicine Organs: Lung & Large Intestine Emotion: Grief Taste: Spicy Nature: Yin
Lung & Large Intestine Fall physically reflects the Lung and Large Intestines. Because of this, people may see symptoms (or a worsening of pre-existing conditions) that reflect issues in our respiratory, digestive, and elimination systems (eg. asthma, coughing, dry skin, infections, indigestion, constipation). Wind and cold may also cause a flare-up of chronic pain or arthritis.
Our Emotions Fall also makes us vulnerable to the emotions of grief and sadness. It might just be an adjustment from the yang energy of summer to the slower yin energy of autumn, or it may be thoughts and emotions that come up for you during this time of year. Autumn is a time to address any unresolved emotional issues before they have an impact on your health.
Sleep In Chinese Medicine, fall represents the time of harvest, when our bodies begin to look inwards. It is a time of storing and preparing for the months ahead.
Now is the time that we must take care to start adjusting to the change in daylight. Retiring early and rising with the dawn helps us to stay healthy. Difficult in today's time, but in all cases, we aim for moderation. The best advice I read recently was a website that said to not aim for perfection, but shoot for 80%. We can all do that.
Eating with the Seasons Fall is the season for spicy. Again, in moderation! Pungent foods such as onion, ginger, and mustards are beneficial to the lungs while overindulging in raw, cold, and damp (eg. dairy products) foods can create phlegm and heaviness and jeopardize your health.
Athletes in particular lose a lot of vital qi ("energy") and fluids(yin) in the winter months. Normally, the latter part of the year is a time when the body needs to start resting and conserving these things, but as we exercise, breathe hard, and sweat, a lot of this is lost. It is vital to eat and hydrate properly to limit the loss.
So what can you do?
Eat more soups and warm nourishing foods while eating less raw foods and salads.
Strengthen your immune system with acupuncture treatments that focus on just that.
Use acupuncture to manage injuries, joint and muscle pains before they worsen with the upcoming cold and rainy season.
Gentle aerobic exercise is best for the fall season.
Acupuncture can help manage or prevent coughs, asthma, and other ailments associated with or exacerbated by the dryness of this season.
Stay well hydrated to preserve fluids/yin.
"Evils" or vulnerability to colds is closely associated to the region on the back of the neck. Protect and keep this area warm with a scarf, buff, or jacket while outside as yet another way to ward off illness.
Use acupuncture as a way to regulate mood and emotions during the darker and shorter days.
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