SURVIVING SUMMERTIME & SUN
A Holistic Approach
Summer’s almost here, and depending on where you live, you might be feeling the heat already. If you love the warm weather, then that’s probably your cue to swap out your jeans for bikinis and hit the beach (or the nearest swimming pool).
But, before you dive into that sweet summer mindset, you should prepare your body and mind with these natural tips so you can stay healthy in the heat! First though, let’s talk about what the deal is with summer when it from a holistic perspective.
The Significance of Summer in TCM
In Eastern Medicine, seasons are associated with elements, so naturally summertime corresponds with the element fire. There’s an emotion associated with the fire element, too, and that’s joy. The light of fire is said to illuminate us inwardly, and pushes us to grow and mature.
That said, we internalize the fire element. Basically, when the fire element is balanced and in harmony with our surroundings, we’re at ease, which helps you sleep and function better overall. So, what could possibly douse your inner flame during the hottest time of year?
It’s simple: Inadequate rest, over-exerting ourselves (both mentally and physically), and eating the wrong foods. Yes, all of these aspects of our daily lives either work to maintain our sense of balance and harmony or knock it out of sync.
Learn to Be an Early Riser
The most noticeable trait of summer is the extended days. The lack of a sunset at 5 p.m. naturally stimulates you to go out and do more. Be careful, though, because this is where you can push yourself too hard.
While it’s totally OK to stay up a little later than usual to enjoy the extra hours of sunlight, you still want to get adequate rest. That way, you can wake up early and take advantage of the extra yang energy from the sun in the morning.
If you’re not much of a morning person, that’s ok. Just try to get up earlier and do something active outdoors, be it strolling through your yard or walking through the greenbelt. Outdoor time to yourself gives you a chance to breathe and be appreciative of the world you inhabit.
TCM also emphasizes a midday rest. It’s important to give your body time to relax, not only to give your mind a rest, but to keep your body from overheating outdoors.
Lastly, incorporate some breathing exercises during your outdoor time. Slow, deep breathing is said to strengthen your immune system and increase your lifespan; it will also help you relax and decompress if you’re feeling stressed.
Eat Cooling Foods to Dispel Heat from Your Body
Yang energy, or active energy, is channeled through vibrant colors and sounds, and the summertime is when it’s most prevalent. Because of the abundance of heat, your body needs cooling foods to balance it out.
So, what are cooling foods exactly? Think water-based foods, like cucumbers or watermelon. When you digest them, they make your body feel cooler as opposed to eating say, spicy hot curry.
Here are some other popular summer foods that can work wonders for your body:
- Bean sprouts
- Green foods
Your daily diet should consist of more vegetables and fruits, which provides the body with more fluids. Does this mean bye bye barbecue? Not exactly.
TCM is all about balance and moderation. It’s ok to eat some red meat now and then, just be sure to balance it out with healthy cooling foods as well.
Stay Hydrated With Warm Water
This is a no-brainer, but so many of us don’t drink enough water! No, you don’t have to be one that person that drinks eight gallons a day, but drinking a few glasses a day isn’t a bad idea. Specifically, you should aim to drink a glass of warm water in the mornings.
Why warm water? It’s simple: Warm water is said to increase blood flow and to kickstart your digestive system. It’s also said that your body can’t properly metabolize fluids that are cooler than your body temperature, so your organs have to heat up cool water first, which saps your body’s energy.
Lastly, warm water after exercising helps balance your body’s internal and external temperature. Keep a bottle of lukewarm water on hand and eventually, you’ll stop craving icy cold water.
Speaking of exercising, you’re gonna sweat a lot in the heat. Sweat keeps your body cool, but also uses up your electrolytes. Yes, you can buy Gatorade to restore electrolytes, but some more healthy options include:
- Coconut water
- Birch water
- Lemons and limes
These beverages and foods contain plenty of electrolytes, which help your body maintain its fluids so you stay hydrated longer. For this reason, it’s important to drink water and foods and drinks rich in electrolytes.
Be a Water Baby While You Soak Up the Sun
Summer wouldn’t be complete without cold pools and salty beach water. Whatever your options are, be sure to cool off from the intense heat by taking a quick dip. Swimming is a great exercise for your body, too: It keeps you cool naturally, but the water also supports up to 90% of your body weight, making it a great way to get in exercise without harming your joints as opposed to exercises like running and weight lifting.
So, stay fit and cool, soak up the sun, and enjoy the beauty that is the summertime while it lasts!
Have any more summertime tips? Feel free to share them in the comments below!