OPTIMIZE FOR SUMMER
Body, Mind & Environment
When you think of Summer, your mind probably goes to warmer days, late nights, fresh fruit, time outside, and vacations on the beach.
Just as Summer brings about changes in nature and way of life, it also brings about changes in the body. It’s a time of movement, growth, and expansion. Tuning into these changes can help to optimize your health and stay connected with your body and nature.
Eastern medicine takes a seasonal approach to treating the body, taking into account what’s happening in the environment. Adopting practices and lifestyle shifts through these transitions is important for staying healthy and enjoying the season!
The Fire Element
According to eastern medicine, Summer is related to fire, one of the five elements. The fire element governs the heart organ-meridian system. These systems’ functions include regulating the cardiovascular system (the heart, blood vessels, and blood flow) and maintaining the functioning of the nervous system. These are the areas you want to focus on keeping healthy in the Summer!
When the Fire element is in balance, your mind is calm, you sleep well, and your heart is healthy. If there’s an imbalance, you may deal with emotional disturbance, trouble with sleep, and possibly heart problems.
Fire is symbolic of maximum activity or greatest yang, which means it’s a time of heat, being outgoing, and being in nature. The Summer heat can also cause things to quicken and expand. This is, of course, related to the sun – the embodiment of the fire element.
Movement is a great way to nourish the fire element.
While nature’s energy increases in the summer months, you’ll also notice an increase in your energy. Summer energy is quick and expressive, and with your increased energy, you may feel yourself being more active than usual.
During the summer, try incorporating more active workouts and finding new ways to stay active. Workouts with a focus on cardiac health and promoting circulation are helpful ways to align your body with the season. Walks on the beach, swimming, or nature hikes are a great way to take advantage of the warmer weather, while keeping your body active.
When changing your workouts or increasing your movement, it’s important to listen to your body. If you need to take a rest, rest. Don’t push your body too hard or overwork yourself. Do what feels best for you!
In the Summer, the heat energy is high, and the Fire element is more engaged. The digestive fire is typically more active, which means we can handle foods that are more difficult to digest, such as raw or cold foods.
During the summer, your diet should be light, nutrient-dense, bright, and hydrating. Focus on eating cooling foods. They help to clear heat from the body, and they generate body fluids to keep your system hydrated and replenished during hot days.
Here are some great foods to enjoy in the Summer, and for some summer specific recipes, check out this blog:
Fruit: Apple, citrus, kiwi, watermelon, orange, pear, pineapple, apricot, bananas, cantaloupe, strawberries, peaches
Cooling foods: Cucumber, zucchini, asparagus, corn spinach, tomato, salads, yogurt, fish, mint, dill, cilantro
Cooling teas: green teas, white teas, mint, chrysanthemum, or honeysuckle flower tea
Avoid hot and dry foods like coffee, spicy foods.
Balancing fire with water is essential for staying healthy in the summer. Be sure to drink plenty of water while enjoying the warmer weather. To stay hydrated, restore your body with minerals and electrolytes. Sipping coconut water on hot days or adding a pinch of sea salt or trace mineral drops to your water is a great way to keep your body healthy and hydrated.
Watermelon juice is another favorite in eastern medicine for keeping the body cool and cleansing your system.
When you think of Summer, your mind probably goes to vacations, time with friends, spending time outdoors – a time of JOY!
In eastern medicine, the emotion related to the fire element is joy, and the sound is laughter. Summer is your time to explore new things and bring more joy in your day.
When the fire element is imbalanced, we can feel a lack of joy (depression) or have an excess of joy (mania). Signs of an imbalance in the fire element can include agitation, nervousness, heartburn, and insomnia.
Keeping your body physically healthy will help keep your emotions balanced and improve your mental health.
Spend the summer months doing things that bring you joy, surround yourself with people who bring you joy, and discover new things that bring you joy!
Connection to others and connection to nature, helps to balance the Fire element.
When you wake up in the morning, take a walk outside while the weather is cool. Walk barefoot in the grass for a few minutes to reconnect with the earth. Morning sun will help reset your circadian rhythm. Grounding will help calm your body, and staying active is great for your heart! Invite a friend for morning walks to reconnect with those around you.
Gardening is a great summer activity to connect with nature. After weeks of tending to your garden, it’s rewarding to see what you’ve grown and enjoy fresh summer produce. Have a few friends over for an al fresco dinner and share your harvest!
Summer is also a great time to enjoy outdoor activities that you can’t enjoy in the colder months. Head to the beach and relax, cool down in the ocean, enjoy a hike in nature, or go for a bike ride with friends.
Eastern medicine recommends aligning your sleep cycle with the seasons. Take advantage of the long days of Summer by waking up early, napping in the afternoon, and staying up later. This helps to balance your circadian rhythm for optimal health and allows you to take advantage of the coolest parts of the day.
Tuning in to the energy of Summer can help to optimize your health and live connected to nature.