5 Acupuncture Tips for a Healthy Fall
And just like that: September is basically here. While some may be mourning the end of summer, a new season is a great opportunity to tap into the state of our physical and mental health and reconnect with surrounding nature. One way to do this is to align with Traditional Chinese Medicine’s (TCM) perspective on autumn, which is all about processing and cleansing as we gear up for the winter season.
The transition into fall is especially noteworthy in TCM because it signifies moving from active seasons (spring and summer) to the more passive ones, fall and winter. The shift from active to passive directly connects to our health, wellbeing, and daily habits.
In acupuncture, each season is also linked with a natural element, organ, and an emotion. For fall, these are:
- Metal: This material governs organization, communication, setting limits, and protecting boundaries. Metal also represents the time to finish up spring and summer projects, “harvesting” all of the hard work done during the active seasons
- Lung: The Lung organ is associated with the act of letting go, a process that might be hard for lovers of summer and long days of sunlight. The Lung in TCM is also considered to be the “tender organ” because it is susceptible to wind and cold. During the change to cooler temperatures, it’s important to dress properly for the weather!
- Grief: Grief is directly tied to the Lung and embodies letting go and grieving the active seasons. While grief might feel like a negative emotion, it also cleanses us of what is no longer needed in our lives. In autumn, it’s useful to allow for and process your grief rather than letting it stay buried within.
With metal, lung, and grief as our guide, here are five tips to stay healthy and in alignment with the natural elements this fall.
TCM Tips for a Healthy Fall
Make lists of autumn priorities and goals
The metal component of autumn incorporates organization, boundary setting, and communication. To set yourself up for success, write down a list of what you want to prioritize in the season and what habits you wish to form to help gain clarity on what truly matters and what you can let go of. This could mean establishing a new exercise routine, finishing a creative project, figuring out how to spend more time with friends, or saving up for a car or vacation. Whatever it is, use your list as a guide to help you stay focused on what truly matters.
Wear scarves and sweaters
With the chilly temps approaching, it’s never a bad idea to keep a sweater and scarf on hand. TCM experts also say they’re particularly important for the Lung organ, since this organ is the first line of defense against cold, wind, germs, and bacteria. Protecting your chest and neck with an extra layer of warmth will guard the Lung organ so it stays healthy and active throughout autumn.
Stay hydrated with room temperature or warm water
Fall weather tends to be very dry, and this dryness can damage the lungs. It’s especially important to stay hydrated throughout autumn to help the lungs stay healthy and moisturize the skin (the lung is the most exterior organ next to the skin). The Lung organ is also paired with the large intestine, which can cause digestive issues if the body isn’t properly hydrated. Avoid cold water which can shock the body and drink room temp or warm H2O to aid digestion, protect the organs, and heat the body.
In order to properly grieve — whether letting go of the summer months or another event in life — writing your thoughts down is a helpful tool to practice letting go. Writing for 20 minutes first thing in the morning is a great act of purification and cleansing, a major theme of the autumn months.
Eat warm foods
Fall is the perfect time to step away from crisp and raw ingredients and eat warm, cooked foods. You can start with simple swaps, like oatmeal for cold cereal or warm tea for iced coffee, and then trade raw salads for oven-roasted root veggies for larger meals. When you’re cooking, add in pungent foods that benefit the Lung organ, such as onions, ginger, garlic, or mustard. If you want something sweet, stick to seasonal fruits like apples, pears, figs, and persimmons.
Following these tips, along with seeing and speaking with your acupuncturist, will help ensure you stay healthy in your body and connected to the world around you. Let us know if you’re practicing any of these suggestions in the comments below!
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