HOW CHANGING SEASONS AFFECTS YOUR BODY
And How To Cope
Have you ever noticed that when the sunny summer days drift away that you start to move a little slower? Even if you’re excited for a little sweater weather, getting out of bed can be more difficult and finding the motivation to go outside on gloomier days can be nearly impossible. Not only do some experience an overall mood of “blah”, but the onset of cold, dry air can wreak havoc on your body. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is believed that the effect of changing seasons on the body is part of a natural cycle, but you must be aware of it so that you can adjust accordingly. So, as the cold, blustery air moves in, here are a few TCM approved ways to cope.
Radiators and forced heat can seriously dry out your skin. With summer air is full of humidity, fall and winter need a little help. Buy a humidifier and this will not only assist with the dryness of your skin, but it also helps prevent nasal irritation and nose bleeds.
Try Goji Berries (AKA Wolfberry). While this sounds like a summer time fruit, this herb has long been used in Chinese Medicine for dry skin. It’s rich in anti-oxidants and vitamins and is widely available in most health food stores.
You also want to make sure you’re using a deeply moisturizing lotion. Not all lotions are created equally, so read reviews and ask for recommendations before buying one. If you’ve let the dry skin go for too long and are in need for some extra help, opt for an overnight usage of moisturizing socks and gloves.
Two extra pointers – Stress can seriously contribute to dry skin. For more info and how to kick the stress, read more here. This one might seem like a no-brainer, but DRINK MORE WATER!
Fatigue is another harsh reality of the changing seasons. The winter months bring fewer hours of sunlight and temperatures that cause you to want to bundle up and drink hot chocolate in front of a fireplace while wearing pajamas. Finding the energy to do much more than that when you’re fighting fatigue can be challenging. That’s where acupuncture comes in.
Acupuncture is a good solution to help bring your energy back to the level you want it to be. It might be used to calm your yang (fast and hot) energy and stimulate your yin (slow and cool) energy. It’s said to directly affect the qi (the energy that runs throughout your body aka life force energy), so it can be a fast fix. You may also want to consider cutting out the use of caffeine in the afternoon hours. Depending on how sensitive you are to it, it may be causing you to fall asleep later than you should be. Speaking of sleep, a tried and true solution to fighting fatigue is going to bed a little bit earlier. Put away the technology, turn off the tv, and try adjusting your sleep schedule up by one hour and just see how it makes you feel the next day.
Seasonal depression aka SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is experienced by some people during the colder months. It’s caused by a drop of serotonin levels in the brain due to shorter days and less sun exposure. It throws off the body’s circadian rhythm, thus requiring a reset. Seasonal depression can be combated with light therapy, taking vitamin D supplements and improving your diet. Bring in a plant of Lemon Balm for the winter and smell the intense lemony scent whenever you feel blue. You could also go to the gym for a workout that will increase your endorphins or try Qi Gong, an ancient Chinese exercise and healing technique that involves meditation, controlled breathing and movement exercises. Infrared saunas are a nice and relaxing way to combat seasonal depression as well as incorporating a regular meditation practice into your daily routine.
Another thing to be on the lookout for in the winter months is the tendency to get sick. So many people suffer from colds, the flu, bronchitis, pneumonia and more. Be sure to focus on boosting your immune system with fresh whole foods, juices, and supplements during this season(Check out welleum’s readywell’s tincture) . You’re also going to want to get lots of sleep! Your immune system is weakened when you’re exhausted, so proper rest is a must. Traditional Chinese Medicine believes in taking preventative measures to keep from getting sick. Staying warm is a great first line of defense against winter sickness. Make sure to wear gloves and cover your head as we have a tendency to lose body heat that way. Obviously the goal is to prevent sickness, but in the event you do come down with something, drink ginger tea while it’s hot then bundle up to create a mild sweat, then rest. This will help push the yucky stuff from your body so you can start healing.
The more aware you are of potential challenges awaiting you with the change of the seasons, the better. Stay ahead of illness and exhaustion by taking care of your body on an ongoing basis. The same goes for the mind. Regular meditation and proper sleep help to keep you in a positive and relaxed state. Of course, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be immune to these seasonal issues, but you’ll be better prepared to handle them by following these suggestions if they do arise.