While we may be a little sad to see the summer go, I think many of us here in Portland are also glad to welcome back our Pacific Northwest Autumn.
With shorter days, cooler (and wetter) weather, and harvest time upon us, Autumn can be a great time to practice some introspection, cozy nesting, and re-setting goals.
Borrowing from Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM) and Herbal traditions, here are a few tips for a happy and healthy Fall season:
Fall is a time for rejuvenating body, mind and spirit. Before the pressures of New Year resolutions and holiday stress, we can set the intention now to get a jump-start on the goals we want to pursue. Treat yourself with exercise, meditation, massage therapy, or an art class! Take advantage of the 30-day rule before Thanksgiving and hunker down for a productive, healthy, happy and cozy fall season!
According to TCM, Fall is associated with the Metal element, and is the time when we may feel inclined to embrace some of those qualities: strong, definitive, focused, discerning. Now can be a great time to get down to gain clarity about what really matters to us.
As satisfying as this can be, it also can be overwhelming. We all know the feeling of having split-loyalties, or a lack of time to devote to all the things we care about. Now is the time to not be afraid to chose an area of your life to dedicate yourself to for the time-being.
Make a list of which priorities deserve your attention for now. Write them down and glance at the list periodically throughout the season.
Sara Calabro, from AcuTake says that “Fall heightens our innate ability to get stuff done. Take advantage of it by reminding yourself where to focus.”
Wear a scarf
Acupuncturists are always going on about wearing scarves. It’s for good reason.
T’is the season for sniffles and coughs, and it is at the turn of the season and throughout Fall that we are so vulnerable to colds, flus, and other bugs that migrate through schools and offices.
TCM considers the Lung to be the first line of defense against external influences that make us sick, and as the weather turns cold and the wind picks up, the Lung organ is extra vulnerable.
Acupuncture theory holds that there is a particular point where those external factors can enter the body to make us sick. This point is called Feng Fu and is located at the back of your neck: the perfect place for a scarf to protect you! Plus, who doesn’t look great wrapped up in scarves?
Even though it will be wet as the dickens around here, most of us are familiar with the dry skin and scratchy throat that comes along with fall and winter. Drink a lot of water and keep your skin hydrated with non-alcoholic (alcohol will dry you out more) moisturizer, like the UnFiltered body creme we have at the clinic.
Another reason to stay hydrated is to regulate digestion, which can also have flare-ups in the fall as we transition to eating different foods and as our circadian rhythms adjust to the darker days.
If you’ve never tried this one, I encourage you to try it for at least one week this season!
Fall is the most common time of year for the onset of nasal infections and post-nasal drip, both of which plague many people well into winter. Keeping a neti pot in the shower or at the bathroom sink and using it regularly throughout the season will help keep your nasal passages clear. *Just remember to use filtered or pre-boiled water and a saline packet to prevent infections!
Eat warm foods
Calabro also reminds us that “the cool, raw, refreshing salads of summer will not do you any favors come fall. Just as we need to start keeping our bodies warmer on the outside, we need to stay warm on the inside as well.”
Steel-cut oats,and oven-roasted veggies are great replacements for the granola and salads from summertime. Onions, ginger, garlic, mustard or other pungent foods are also good to boost your body into a seasonal alignment this fall.
Root vegetables such as beets, turnips, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and squash are seasonal and nutritious. To quench a fruit craving, reach for something seasonal such as apples, pears, grapes, figs or persimmons.
Be an active TV watcher
If you’re like me, one of your favorite parts of fall (besides pumpkin spice everything) is the beginning of the television season. Enjoy your show! But try to incorporate some activity into your cozy tv-night.
Standing lunges, tricep dips off the couch, lifting weights, or even just practicing balancing on one leg are great options to keep your body strong under your thick sweaters. During commercials, try doing a set of push-ups or sit-ups. In a one-hour show, you probably have close to 20 minutes worth of commercial interruption.