As the colors start to change on the trees and days start to get shorter, we humans may start to feel something in our bodies. This “feeling” could make us crave warmer liquids or commercialized pumpkin spice latte.
Looking around, we can notice other hints of fall such as animals beginning to harvest away food for cooler times.
Emotions of Fall
Being in the UP, some of us may have mixed feelings about fall. Perhaps we have thoughts such as “I used to like the fall but now it gives me anxiety about the cold winter to come.” Or students associating fall with sadness about going back to school, missing the beach.
Believe it or not, feeling a hint of sadness in the fall is healthy. As humans we go through the cycles within nature. Fall is associated with the Metal element which relates to sadness/grief in Chinese Medicine. Fall is about letting go. In nature, fall trees physically let go of their leaves.
A metal imbalance emotionally could mean difficulty with letting go of things, situations, events, relationships, sadness, and a longing for the past. Physically, a metal imbalance could mean skin issues, asthma flare-ups, upper respiratory illness, nasal congestion, constipation, too much or too little mucus, and frequent illnesses/compromised immune system.
Self-Care for the Fall
1.) Food: Let us start with the concept of food being our medicine. Foods that help our lungs breathe are pungent foods. Pungent foods cleanse and protect the delicate lung organ by moving and dispersing phlegm or mucus. Think onion, garlic, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, saffron, pepper, ginger, leek, mustard leaf, and parsnip. Dairy foods contribute to mucus build up. As Chinese Medicine Dietary Theory states, to reduce excess mucus in the lungs, eat less dairy.
2.) Sun Watching: When nature starts the shift to shorter days it is beneficial to sun watch. Being in synch with the sun’s rhythm is balancing. Any night shift worker can most likely relate to feeling confusion when going to sleep while the sun is rising.
Even for just for the fun of it, get up and watch the sun rise. Then watch the sunset that same day. Kudos to those who already have a close relationship with the sun!
3.) Pick Up Some Smells: Walking outdoors, smelling the leaves and new smells of fall help the body transition. Some essential oils that can be beneficial are silver fir, grand fir, and rosemary.
4.) Let Go of Something: People say we forgive for ourselves vs. others. Forgiving someone allows us to move forward with our life. Or maybe we need to forgive ourselves for something that happened years ago.
5.) Learn Something New: In the spirit of the back-to-school season, regardless of your age, learn something. Join a book club, volunteer in your community, pick up a new hobby, or, go back to school!
6.) Get Routine Care With An Acupuncturist: Most acupuncturists will take into consideration the change of seasons and help your body get a “tune up” by picking lung points as a part of your acupuncture session. If you have difficulty with fall, potentially your metal element needs balancing. Furthermore, health issues with the lung and colon suggest unresolved grief and sadness in Chinese Medicine.
The true beauty of letting go is feeling lighter. At first, letting go may seem difficult. Remember all of nature around you is supporting the letting-go cycle. With practice, the mind, body, and spirit can flow with the seasons, and to a deeper level of flow with the dance of life.
Alicia Smith practices acupuncture in Marquette, MI and Escanaba, MI for women, men & children. She runs a general family care practice. She has a special interest in dermatology, depression/anxiety, fertility, women’s health, pediatrics & pain management. Alicia owns and operates The Light Institute, a wellness cooperative. The Light Institute has healing houses in Marquette, MI and Escanaba, MI.
Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2014 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2014. All rights reserved.