From an Chinese Medicine perspective, Fall is time to pare down, to let go of the excesses we allowed ourselves in summer and focus on what’s necessary for Winter. The transition into Fall is when we move from the more active seasons to the more passive. This directly impacts how we feel, and how we prevent and treat illness. Each season is linked with a natural element, organ, and emotion. The element, organs, and emotions of Fall are, respectively, Metal, Lung, and grief. These three things guide us into how to feel the best we can.
With Metal, Lung, and grief as our guides, here are some tips for staying healthy this fall.
Fall is when we ought to embrace our Metal-esque qualities: strong, definitive, focused, discerning. It is time to get down to business, to gain clarity about what really matters to us, as I said earlier pare down, to what is important and letting go of what no longer serves us well at this time.
Wear a scarf; Lung, the organ associated with fall, is the first line of defense against external ‘pathogenic factors’ (colds and flu etc). As the weather turns cold and the wind picks up, the Lung organ is extra vulnerable. In Chinese Medicine we believe that pathogenic factors such as cold and wind invade the body at the back of the neck, hence the scarf. Try it, you’ll be amazed how much warmer and cozier you feel against the cooler Fall weather!
Dryness of all kinds is common in fall. Dry skin and even rashes tend to show up in fall. Drink a lot of (warm or hot) water and keep your skin hydrated. Whilst moisturizing massage your skin and help the Qi to move more readily, self nurturing is particularly important and we turn inward preparing our bodies for the coming Winter months, in Ayurveda they call this Abhyanga and is traditionally done with warm oil and feels amazingly nurturing and grounding.
Another reason to stay hydrated is to regulate digestion. The Lung’s paired organ is Large Intestine, so sometimes digestive issues can flare up this time of year. Constipation, due to the dryness of the season, is most common, especially in people who struggle with the “letting go” aspect of transitioning into fall.
Eat warm seasonal foods; We need to start keeping our bodies warmer on the outside (scarf) , and also warmer on the inside as well. Instead of cold cereal with milk, choose oatmeal. Trade the salads for oven-roasted veggies over brown rice, casseroles and seasonal soups. When cooking, add in some onions, ginger, garlic or mustard—these pungent foods are known to benefit the Lung organ.
Veggie wise, root vegetables such as beets, turnips, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and squash are ideal. If you go for out-of-season vegetables, make sure they are cooked. If you’re craving fruit, reach for something seasonal such as baked or stewed apples or pears.
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