Tips for Staying Healthy This Fall
Every season in Chinese medicine is linked with an organ, emotion and element. This season highlights our Lungs, grief and the element of Metal. These three things can serve as barometers for where we’re at, and can offer insight on how to become better. With these as our guides, here are six acupuncture tips for staying mentally and physically healthy this fall:
Wear a scarf I’m always going on about wearing scarves. It’s for good reason and here's why: Lung, the organ associated with fall, is considered the first line of defense against external pathogenic factors (viruses). As the wind picks up & the weather turns cooler, the Lung organ becomes extra vulnerable. Further, pathogenic factors such as wind & cold invade your body at the back of your neck so keeping that area protected is very important in the fall (and of course you’ll look impressively fashionable). Remember when your grandparents yelled at you for leaving the house with wet hair or for not bundling up? They were/are wise.
Make a list of your priorities
Fall is the most supreme time to embrace our Metal-esque qualities: strong, definitive, focused. This is best season to turn inwards and gain clarity about what really matters to you. You may be feeling quite overwhelmed by this seasonal shift in thinking. ...“If I put more energy towards my work, how will I make time for the kids? If I focus on cooking healthy meals & eating at home to save money, how will I socialize with friends?” Fall heightens our innate ability to get things done, so try making a list of which priorities deserve your attention. Periodically glance at this list throughout the season to remind yourselves on where to focus your energy.
Do acupressure on Lung 7 One of the best points for strengthening the Lung organ is Lung 7. It a great point for a cough, shortness of breath and for nasal congestion. It’s also one of the most effective points for neck pain and stiffness. As mentioned above, wearing a scarf helps, but for protecting yourself against any residual wind or muscular tension, Lung 7 can become very useful. To access it, make a thumbs-up sign. When you do that, you’ll see a depression at the base of your thumb (referred to as the anatomical snuffbox). From that depression, Lung 7 is located approximately two finger widths up your arm.
The emotion associated with fall is grief. This is the time of year to let go, grieve, and to reflect on any unresolved sadness. This can be an unsettling adjustment after the surge of energy & joy many of us experience during summer, but it is normal to feel somewhat somber and pensive in the fall. The inability to settle into this emotional shift, or transition out of it, may suggest an imbalance. However, before labeling yourself with Seasonal Affective Disorder, a common biomedical diagnosis for people who feel depressed in the colder, darker months, consider that you may be experiencing a natural heightened awareness of grief. If you sense it might be something more extreme than that, please see your doctor.
Eat warm foods Step away from the salad! I can almost see your eyes rolling at me and hear your inner rebuttal. I KNOW you think they're good for you but the raw, refreshing salads of summer will not do you any favours come fall. Just as we need to begin keeping our bodies warmer on the outside, we need to remain warm on the inside as well. During this transitional season, try to eat warm, cooked food. Instead of cold cereal with milk, choose oatmeal. Trade the salads for oven-roasted veggies over brown rice. When cooking, throw 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 apples, pears, grapes, figs or persimmons.
Stay hydrated Dryness of all kinds is common in fall. Since Lung is the most exterior organ, it’s the organ that relates most closely to the skin. Dry skin, dry eyes, rashes and nose bleeds tend to demonstrate themselves in fall. Drink a lot of water and keep your skin hydrated to reduce these symptoms. 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 quite common (especially in people who struggle with the emotional “letting go” aspect of transitioning into fall).
I hope I've given you some helpful tools and insight about this beautiful yet challenging season. I wish you all a happy and healthy fall.