Staying Balanced This Summer
Whether you love to tan in the sun, or are ready to flee for air-conditioned spaces, one thing is certain: summer is here. And with it, comes an important time of the year: Summer Solstice.
Summer Solstice marks the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. In Chinese medicine, the summer represents a time of growth, expansion, and fulfillment. In addition, this season is associated with the Fire element and is a time when there is an increase in yang energy, before it begins to decline in the Fall. In traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the abundance of energy and additional hours of daylight leads to an increase in our bodies’ energy as well. An increase in yang energy, when out of balance, may manifest as anger, restlessness, insomnia, depression, brain fog, headaches, or even constipation.
The organs that are primarily affected by this change in energy are the heart and small intestine organ systems. According to the Five Element theory, the heart organ is the organ most heavily affected by the summer solstice. During this time period, there are certain adjustments one can adopt to be in more harmony with the season. Since this time impacts the heart organ the most, one should be more conscious about maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in activities that help support a healthy heart. It’s especially helpful to eat foods that are cool in nature as these foods help nourish yin and balance the excess yang. Similarly, engage in activities that aid in blood circulation, such as swimming, where the cool water also helps raise yin to a balance with the yang. In general, spending time outside is a great way to stay balanced over the summer. This is the ideal time to be in action – whether that means socializing, going outside, staying active, or nurturing creative projects.
Here are some TCM ways to stay balanced this summer by staying aligned with nature and your body's natural flow:
- Get acupuncture - Acupuncture is a customized treatment that helps balance our bodies, thereby ensuring that we are more in sync with nature and with the increase in yang energy.
- Spend time outside- Participate in outdoor activities and physical exercises that increase your heart rate for good heart health.
- Eat cooling foods. Consuming healthy, seasonal and cooling foods such as watermelon blueberries, pineapple, melons, cucumbers, and salads are suggested during the summer to cool down the heat in organs.
- Stay hydrated - Keep your body hydrated and replenished during the hot summer. It is essential to stay hydrated during the hot summer; the excess of fire energy can be balanced by drinking more water.
- Rest with the season - One should wake up earlier, rest in midday, and stay up later in order to help balance the circadian rhythm and take advantage of the longer days of summer.
- Do activities that nurture the spirit - It is incredibly beneficial to engage in activities that nurture the spirit – the energy of fire offers a great time to work on creative activities, or to go out and socialize more.
Summer brings about lots of change: warmer weather, a break in work, maybe even beach vacations. It also brings with it an increase in yang energy. By using TCM, you can both balance out this excess energy, as well as learn about the activities that best harness its power. (And we always recommend a beach vacation.)