Chinese Medicine philosophy considers the summer the most active (yang) time of the year. You get up early, go to sleep late, and generally feel pretty good with all that sunshine. Summer is associated with joy, the heart, fire, outward expression of energy, movement and activity. It is the manifestation of all we have cultivated in the spring time — the tomato plant that I planted in early spring is already bearing fruit, because it has had sunshine and I have watered it.
Many of us play hard and work hard in the summer, precisely because there is more daylight and we have more energy. However, there is one thing acupuncturists, body workers, and massage therapists are painfully aware of…not many people are invested in self care in these months. They are busy flying off to all corners of the earth, attending parties, playing outside, and celebrating.
All of which is great. But the mind-body is not really getting a similar vacation. In fact, we are expecting more of it. So, when colder winds begin to blow in the fall, our clinics are filled to the brim with coughing, sneezing, exhausted people! This summer hangover can be prevented!
Simply put, taking care of yourself in the summer leads to a healthier you in the fall.
A 2,000 year old Chinese medicine classic, the Huang di Nei Jing, shares words of ancient wisdom about healthy living in summertime, still applicable today:
“One may retire somewhat later at this time of year, while still arising early. One should refrain from anger and stay physically active, to keep the skin breathing and to prevent the qi from stagnating. One can indulge a bit more than in other seasons, but should not overindulge. Emotionally, it is important to be happy and easygoing and not hold grudges, so that the energy can flow freely and communicate between the external and internal. In this way, illness may be averted in the Fall… Problems in the Summer will cause injury to the heart and will manifest in the Fall.”
Here is a list of some easy, health promoting things to do for yourself while you are enjoying the longer, sunny summer days:
- Be active and get some exercise. Twenty minutes a day of walking, yoga, tai chi, meditation, or similar low impact activities are wonderful to add in to your daily routine.
- Have fun, but stay balanced (don’t overindulge in drinking, exercising, sunshine, parties, travel…etc. Moderation, as always, is the key!)
- Forgive, lighten up, let some things go.
- Eat seasonally. There is a lot of fresh produce at this time of year to enjoy!
- Hydrate often (lemon, mint, and cucumber infused water is a great choice to cool you down)
- Include lighter, less greasy foods in your diet
- Foods to keep you cool and balanced:
Cilantro, mint, dill, cucumbers, watermelon, peaches, apricots, cantaloupe, spinach, watercress, seaweed, bok choy, broccoli, sprouts, chinese cabbage, snow peas, mung beans
Stock up on seasonal, local foods at your Local Farmer’s Market, or grow your own!
Here is a list of Farmer’s Markets in the East Bay: http://edibleeastbay.com/farmers-markets/
Growing a garden in Alameda county, month by month: http://acmg.ucanr.edu/Your_Garden,_Month-by-Month/
Vegetable Gardening for Dummies: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/vegetable-gardening-for-dummies/Content?oid=3198410
Create a Greywater system for your garden: http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ContentDisplay.aspx?id=45756
Local (East Bay) yoga studios, tai chi, qi gong, and meditation classes:
Namaste yoga studios: http://ilovenamaste.com/
Adeline Yoga Studio: http://www.adelineyoga.com/
Square One Yoga: http://www.squareoneyoga.com/
Tai Chi Chuan Berkeley: http://taichichuanberkeley.com/
Meditation, Qi Gong, Classes, and More: http://berkeley.shambhala.org/programs/
East Bay Biking, Walking, Hiking:
Bicycling and Walking maps in Berkeley: http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Public_Works/Transportation/Bicycling_and_Walking-Maps_and_Guides.aspx
East Bay Regional Parks: http://www.ebparks.org/parks
Best Botanical Gardens in the East Bay: http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/top-lists/best-botanical-gardens-in-the-bay-area/
In between all that good local food, yoga, hiking, biking, traveling, and celebration, make time to get some acupuncture to help you chill out, cool down, refresh, and revive. Sometimes taking a break means you will have more energy to actually enjoy yourself.