As the bright, brilliant summer sun slowly mellows and the brisk Fall chill brings shorter days and earlier evenings, we need to develop autumnal self-care routines in order to prepare for the Winter season. Beyond pumpkin spice lattes and buffalo plaid throw blankets, we should be thinking about nurturing our constitutions to healthfully head into the holidays, and beyond.
In the ancient holistic practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the Fall is a time for preparing our immune systems to ward off the onslaught of Winter’s cold and damp. Traditionally, the Fall is associated with our Lungs, which in TCM are our first defense against colds and flu. Your Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine has many suggestions to build your Lung energy in delicious and new to you ways:
1) Chai Tea
Replace your afternoon caffeine fix with a relaxing, herbally invigorating cup of hot chai tea. This blend of Chinese medicinal herbs include ginger, black peppercorn and cardamom that provide a warm glow and boost energy.
2) Qi Gong
Create a literally inspiring morning routine of Qi Gong exercises to enhance the Lung energy with breath work. Qi Gong is a mind-body exercise that has been proven to help with balance (important for walking on snow and ice!) and providing a relaxing, focused state of mind.
3) Hot Water Bottle
Snuggle up after work with a hot water bottle on your low back to enhance internal warmth, keeping your muscles loosened and soft.
4) Warm Spice Recipes
Try new recipes to include warming spices which in TCM, provide strength to the Lungs, thereby enhancing your ability to weather the following season’s sniffles. Cayenne pepper dusted pulled pork, Bone Broth with garlic and onion, Miso soup with seaweed and a side of wasabi encrusted salmon, omelets with chicken and green onions, Tofu sauteed with mustard greens and ginger.
For better sleep, try a twenty minute tub soak in Epsom salt with Frankincense and Orange essential oils. The Epsom salt can help achy muscles and detoxification. The essential oils not only smell great, but are warming in nature and intensify your relaxation.
Start cultivating a morning or evening meditation practice. Don’t be intimidated by thinking you have to quiet your mind for hours at a time! Meditation is a practice! It takes time to develop the ability to stop the constant churn of your to do list. I counsel my patients to start slowly: choose a quiet space or your favorite view in your home, use comfortable pillows or a cushy chair to sit upon. Fill your space with pleasing scents and images. Then set a timer for two minutes. Sit quietly, breathing in and out (I like in on 4 breaths, out on 8.) Do this for one week. On week two, add 30 seconds to one minute. Continue this pattern until you have a meditation practice you look forward to and can sit for 10-20 minutes per day.
Start the day by getting sun in your eyes. Ten minutes of sunlight with an expansive view towards the horizon helps set your circadian rhythm for the day, increasing energy and easing you into sleep, later that night.
Another TCM preventive measure is to wrap up in your coziest scarf to keep the cold off of your neck to ward off stiffness and headaches.
This year we can look forward to creating new autumn rituals that will keep us happy and healthy in all four seasons!
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Ventura's Elixir Lifestyle Medicine can make your path to better health easier to travel…naturally. Please give us a call at 805-644-1064 to schedule an appointment today or visit https://www.elixirlifestyle.com/acupuncture to learn more.