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Be Well In Autumn

Living in the Rhythm of Autumn

The movement in nature at this time of year is downward and contracting, trees move their energy inwards and leaves fall. The sun gets lower in the sky, the weather colder and the days shorter. In acupuncture theory these energies are seen to be alive in us as well as in nature. Because of this many people can find autumn a difficult time. It is not always easy to willingly let go of the warmth and joy of the summer and the change in the season can highlight feelings of loss and sadness. However if we can be aware of what is happening in the natural world it can help us adapt to the changes and prepare ourselves for the winter. Autumn can be a time to try to come to terms with underlying emotional issues. If we can go with the energy of the season, let go and become a bit more introspective it may be possible to get clearer about what is most important to us. Knowing these things is a kind of harvest which we can carry into winter and allow what is no longer necessary or helpful to drop away.

The following activities can help us move in rhythm with the energies of autumn…

Clean out the house
Autumn is a time of letting go and clearing out.

Exercise or any practice that deepens and regulates breathing.
In Chinese medicine the Lung is paired with the Large Intestine and they are the organs associated with autumn; they have a down-bearing and dispersing movement. Every organ in Chinese Medicine is associated with an emotion; that of the Lung is grief, lingering sadness or grief that has not been dealt with. It causes the Lung to contract so it is unable to expand and distribute qi around the body. The Large Intestine allows us to ‘let go’ of what is unnecessary, especially grief and other emotions. In a physical sense these two organs are connected, deep breathing using the lungs and diaphragm literally massages the abdomen encouraging movement in the intestines.

Change our diet to include more warming foods and pungent spices.
The taste associated with the Lung is ‘pungent’.  This creates expansion and counteracts the strong contraction movement.  Pungent foods include ginger, spring onions, and garlic – foods that can help us fight off the colds and flu viruses that are so common at this time of year.  Autumn is also a time to move to more warming foods – soups and steamed veg instead of salads. Root vegetables, which have a downward movement of qi, are very beneficial.

Keep warm – wear layers to deal with the various changes in weather.
What your mother told you is true! It’s important to keep your neck and feet covered and warm during cold and flu season. In Chinese medicine theory common colds are caused by Wind invading the body which finds its way in through vulnerable spots like the back of the neck. The acupuncture points there are known as the “Wind gate”. Wind is the cause of many illnesses—and common colds are just the tip of the iceberg. Depending on how deep Wind has penetrated the body, it can cause allergies, arthritis, stiff neck, headaches, body aches, asthma, skin rashes, hives, dizziness, and more. So this time of year don’t leave home without a scarf and wear socks - it’s time to ditch the flip flops!

Take time out to relax – Stress can negatively impact so many aspects of our lives, so it is no surprise that it’s been proven to weaken the immune system. Cold and flu season is an especially important time to make sure we aren’t letting stress get to us. As with sleep, our bodies need quiet and calm times to balance out the more stressful and hectic hours in the day and supports emotional wellbeing and stability. 

Go to bed earlier with the sun and get up earlier to appreciate the fresh brisk autumn air.