Preparing Your Body for Fall + Winter
The Seasons from a Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective
Our bodies change with each seasonal turn - we follow the recurring and transitional rotations with the seasons. Summer is warm with flourishing life and activity (Yang) - we have lots of plans, events, and to-do’s while we stay up with the sun later into the day. Autumn is a transitional phase, bringing coolness to the warmth (Yin within Yang) preparing harvests for the cold ahead. The winter cold presents us with an introspective, hibernating, dormant time (Yin). Finally, spring (Yang within Yin) introduces tiny reflections of warmth to the coldness and slowly over weeks encourages rebirth and growth to begin the cycle all over again.
Autumn is 1 of 2 transitional times of year in which Warm transforms to Cold - tricklings of warmth with a gradual introduction to cool (Yin within Yang), starting the journey of change into the next cycle. The change in weather forces our bodies to slow down - all the movement from events/outings/maximal outside time in the summer (Yang) prepares us for the slower, internal time of year, winter (Yin). We cannot have one without the other, and the transitional seasons in between help us become more robust for the opposite.
I’ve always found the seasons to be helpful in guiding me through each year, especially in New England. Taking advantage of what each season has to offer and using their rotations as a gentle quarterly reminder to make and carry out goals.
Why is it important to take this into consideration?
Seasonal disorders associated with the colder weather such as increased tendency to experience colds, rhinitis, sinus pressure, headaches, coughs, allergies, worsening joint pain, depression and/or mood disorders, etc. can be reduced or even prevented by getting your body in order the season before.
In the Fall, acupuncture, cupping, herbal remedies, and moxibustion are used to strengthen the immune system and lungs, deeply warm the muscles and joints, calm the Mind, and prepare the body to ease into the upcoming change.
Tips to prepare your body for Fall-Winter:
Keep body warm - especially feet, head, and neck → wear socks inside, adequately cover your body when outside by wearing scarves, hats, and jackets, warm showers, drinking warm water or broth
Heat therapy - sauna, hot tub, steamer, warm baths, moxa, infrared, etc.
Support immune system function by committing to regular physical activity, eating a whole foods diet and avoiding sugar, supplementing Vitamin D, managing stress, hydrating, and prioritizing sleep
Cook your food - cooking foods adds more warmth to your body (sensing a theme here?). Eat warm foods in season. In Maine this includes → pumpkin, squash, apples, peaches, garlic, onion, and herbs like rosemary, sage, oregano, fennel, ginger, thyme, and healthy oils like ghee
Acupuncture, cupping + moxa!