Can you believe summer is almost here?! Perhaps you've already noticed feeling more social, having more energy, and just being in a better mood all-around. From a traditional Chinese perspective, that's totally expected. Summertime is when Yang energy is at its peak. Yang is characterized as active, bright, enthusiastic, and extroverted.
In traditional Chinese medicine, you cannot separate a person from their environment. Summer is related to the element of Fire, the Heart, and over-excitement. These factor significantly into a diagnosis and treatment plan. So, how does this change how you feel in the summer? And what can you do about it?
We all know people who thrive in the heat. They run around in 90 degree weather with energy to spare. Usually, these people also tend to be playful, charismatic, are quick to connect with others, and enjoy intimacy. This is someone who has a strong and balanced Fire element.
Then, there are others who constantly complain about the heat and feel drained in the summer. Sometimes, these people can be perceived as distant, easily overwhelmed, introverted, and self-centered. This is someone who has a weak and under-expressed Fire element.
On the flip side, someone with an over-abundance of Fire will express symptoms similar to mania, like racing thoughts, difficulty paying attention, decreased need for sleep, inappropriate elation, or markedly increased energy.
If you're someone who tends to have an under-expression of Fire, it is important to focus on encouraging the following qualities in yourself throughout the summer. If you think you have an over-abundance of Fire, your focus should be on appreciating these things, but remembering to keep them in check.
5 Tips To Maximize Your Summer:
Exercise will be easier in the summer, thanks to that Yang energy. Take advantage of this boost and move everyday! You'll improve your metabolism, protect your health, and better your mood. If you tend to have a strong or high level of Fire, be cautious about overdoing the exercise.
Talk With Strangers
Noticing you want to strike up a conversation with a stranger or spend a few extra minutes chatting with the grocery bagger? That's your natural Fire coming out to play! Connection is important this time of year, so don't overthink the urge to talk with someone you don't know.
See Your Friends More
What better way to engage in the Fire characteristics of connection, communication, and intimacy than hanging out with your pals? So have a bonfire, hike in the mountains, or just stay up late into the night chatting. Nurturing relationships not only makes summer more fun, but it will also smooth the transition into fall.
The sound of the Fire element, and therefore the sound of summer, is laughter. So when you're hanging out with people, crack inside jokes, tell embarrassing stories, appreciate others' jokes, and tell the embarrassing stories again. Keep laughing and your fire burning bright!
Hang Out At A Lake
Or any body of water, really. All the elements are inter-connected, and no relationship is more easily understood than Fire and Water. Since summer is all about the Fire element, being physically near water can help balance out Fire's heat and rising energy.
Have a specific question about yourself? Let me know! I'm happy to answer your questions.
The ability to adapt to the stresses of life is fundamental to life itself. Adaptability is the root of evolution and the rate limiting factor to biological success. Fortunately, human beings are one of the most adaptable creatures on earth. We have adapted to almost every climate. People live in some of the hottest, driest, dampest, coldest, and most barren parts of the earth.
In this age, a healthy person easily adapts to a wide range of normal stressors, such as changes in weather, nutrition, emotions, or physical activity. Success could be measured by how well we handle stress. Those who manage stress well generally take on greater challenges, overcome more obstacles, and get more accomplished.
Successfully adapting to change is the truest way to grow in experience, knowledge, and wisdom. The more adaptive an individual, the more vigor with which one can meet the challenges of life, and the greater that person's heath.
But if we lose this fundamental ability, we stiffen and lose our ability to change. Therefore, we easily become imbalanced and stagnant, and dangerously susceptible to disease.
Traditional Chinese medicine emphasizes the importance of flowing with nature's changes; constantly harmonizing, always maintaining balance to avoid the extremes. By knowing when you have gone far enough, you will lead a less stressed, less draining life. Additionally, by living close to nature and changing gracefully with your environment, you can avoid disaster and slow down aging.
One of the greatest secrets of a satisfying and happy life, according to traditional Chinese medicine wisdom, is to focus on promoting health instead of managing disease. Physical health is irrelevant if it is accompanied by unhappiness, trouble, or failure. It is necessary and possible to cultivate an attitude of holistic health so the body, mind, and spirit can flourish. Total success takes determination, knowledge, and discipline.
But we don't have to do it alone. While we already have excellent adaptive systems in place, such as the work done by our liver, kidneys, and digestive tract, sometimes we can use a tune up to function optimally. Regular acupuncture and tonic Chinese herbs are wonderful resources to promote physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Traditional Chinese medicine can help you look and feel your best. Try out a system of healing that's full of wisdom and perfect for the modern age.
Inspiration: The Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs, Ron Teeguarden
Here are some traditional Chinese medicine inspired tips to be happy and healthy all summer long. The driving principles are awareness and balance. Happy Summer!
1. Be active
By being active in the summer, you are complementing the extra Yang energy that is available this time of year. Exercise keeps blood and oxygen circulating so that nutrients are more able to nourish the body. Since summer is associated with the heart and the fire element, this is a perfect time to pay attention to start or boost your exercise.
2. Be social
Characteristics of the fire element include joy, communication, and connection. Hanging out with friends or engaging with strangers is an excellent way to tap into these characteristics. Nurturing these qualities not only makes summer more fun, but also eases the transition to introspective autumn and winter.
Every element has an emotion and its expression. Fire’s emotion is joy and its expression is laughter. So tell the jokes, laugh at other’s jokes, and fuel your fire.
4. Enjoy “cool” foods
Summer is the one time of year where it is OK to cool down foods. It’s not a license to chug ice cold water all day or eat raw salad at every meal, but cooler foods, such as raw fruits and veggies, are better tolerated in the summer.
5. Hang out near water
All elements in TCM keep each other in balance, and none so apparent than water balancing fire. Being physically near water in the summer is grounding and reminds us of the interconnectedness of life.
With more daylight and social events, sometimes sleep is not a priority in the summer. But sleep is a function of the heart (the organ system of summer), and keeping a regular sleep schedule helps prevent imbalance in the heart.
1. Socialize as much as possible. Besides enjoying outdoor concerts, camping, and other fun summer activities, you’ll also be nourishing your heart’s energy. When the heart energy is strong, relationships are fulfilling, mind and body are balanced, and there is joy and enthusiasm in life.
2. Drink room temp water. While you might desire an ice cold drink to cool down, that coldness requires your digestive system to work even harder to warm up the liquid. Constantly drinking ice cold water weakens the digestive system, causing it to become less efficient.
3. Eat cooling foods. Cooling foods balance the heat and dryness of summer. Examples include watermelon, fish, egg whites, lettuce, peppermint, cucumbers, peaches, oranges, and barley.
4. Eat bitter foods. The bitter taste has drying, cooling, detoxifying, and anti-inflammatory properties. Examples include cilantro, rye, chicory, sage, tangerine peel, and turmeric.
5. Focus on what you want to achieve. Summer is the season where things can come to fruition in preparation for the autumn harvest. It is a good time to focus on what you want to achieve in life.
For more information, check out Summer in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Summer is a time to nurture and grow what was created in the spring. Flowers are blooming, vegetables are ripening, baby birds are chirping. And hopefully we, too, are thriving.
In traditional Chinese medicine, summer corresponds with the energy of the heart and small intestine. Its energy flares upward, like its element of fire. It is a time for maximum activity; a time for building relationships and moving outward in nature and life.
The main function of the heart is to govern blood circulation throughout the body. In traditional Chinese medicine, the heart is also associated with relationships, mental thought processes, and emotional well-being.
The small intestine represents the ability to process the things we eat, see, hear, or feel. It helps to separate the essential from the inessential. This influences digestion and discernment.
When these organs are balanced, our thinking is clear and we are able to fully experience the joy in summer. If imbalanced, we may lack joy, become easily agitated, experience heartburn, or not sleep soundly.
If your summer is not reaching its full potential, consider receiving an acupuncture treatment to help harmonize with summer’s energy.
Many people have been working outdoors recently readying gardens and crops for summer. When working in the heat, it is important to stay hydrated and pace your efforts to avoid dehydration, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion.
Chinese herbal medicine has a tasty option to help with summer heat. Watermelon fruit and peel are used to quench thirst, generate body fluids, lessen feelings of heat, and promote urination. It is an excellent snack if you are going to be working or playing hard this summer.
Watermelon Peel Salad
Thoughts and practical tips to help you look and feel your best based in the wisdom of Chinese medicine.
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