Autumn is historically a time for harvesting and storing goods in preparation for hunkering down for the winter season. In modern times, it doesn’t really affect where we go, what we do or what we eat all that much, but we should still adhere to the natural flow of nature when considering our health and well being.
This is the time to nourish our bodies, reduce clutter, gain mental clarity and focus within. It’s a time of reflection and stillness. We can utilize the natural energy of the season to accomplish things that have been put to the wayside and attain a sense of peace for the colder months to come.
Here are some Chinese medicine rooted insights to harness the wellness benefits this season has to offer:
1. Cook your food.
It’s time to swap out salads and raw veggies for warm cooked dishes. It can be taxing on the digestive system to heat up and break down cold raw foods, especially this time of year. This includes frozen smoothies, juicing, iced drinks and ice cream. Foods should be more thoroughly cooked on low heat for a longer period of time to maximize nutrient absorption and ease digestion.
Enjoy seasonal vegetables like beets, carrots, onions, parsnips and celery root. Some other root veggies you can use to season your pot are ginger, garlic, turmeric and fennel. Add these to a home cooked stew or bone broth and you’ve got an extremely nourishing comfort meal.
Some fruits to incorporate are apples, pears, dates, goji berries and figs. A perfect dessert would be a baked apple or pear with local maple syrup and cinnamon topped with goji berries or sliced figs.
Pumpkins aren’t just for carving! These along with other seasonal squash like acorn, butternut and honeynut are loaded with beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, and folate which are all great for the immune system. They can be pureed and used in latte’s and baked goods or roasted and added to stews or side dishes.
Foods should be more thoroughly cooked on low heat for a longer period of time to maximize nutrient absorption and ease digestion.
2. Tea time!
There’s something special about a warm, cozy tea on a cool Autumn morning or evening. Herbal teas made from dried herbs, flowers, fruits and spices come with therapeutic, health-promoting properties. Ginger, chamomile, chaga, rooibos, rose and ashwagandha are all great sources of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Research has even shown that drinking tea can reduce cortisol, the stress hormone.
3. Clean house
According to Chinese medicine, Autumn is related to the element of Metal. Metal characteristics are organized, clean, dignified and analytical. It represents the ability to separate the necessary from the unnecessary and urges us to let go of that which doesn’t serve us anymore. There’s a correlation between less clutter in your physical space and less clutter in your mental space. An organized, clean work and home space makes it easier to think. There is even fancy science to back up this claim. A study in the journal of neuroscience found that the chaos of clutter limits your ability to focus. It competes for mental energy so that you can’t process information as well. How amazing is it that just by clearing out our physical space, we enjoy a more focused, calm mental state?
If you’ve been putting off meditating, now is the time. With reduced physical clutter and a quiet space, you can reap the many benefits of meditation and deliberate breathing. In Chinese medicine, Autumn is the season of the lungs. During meditative deep breathing, your lungs get a quality “workout”. This is essential for getting oxygen to the brain and detoxifying the organs.
If you’re not sure where to start, you can download our 2-page free PDF explaining the benefits of practicing metta or loving kindness meditation (LKM) for emotional and mental health. This practice relieves depression and anxiety and stimulates vagus nerve function for deep healing.
5. Show your skin some love.
The body tissue that’s associated with Autumn is the skin. The skin is the largest organ of the body and our first line of defense when it comes to environmental toxins and pathogens. Drinking lots of water and taking collagen are great, but the skin is last to receive nutrients and hydration from consumption. Show your skin some love by adding some lavender and geranium essential oils to your next epsom salt bath or by dousing yourself with coconut oil after a shower. Skin also loves to be touched, so schedule that massage!
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- Pitchford, P. (2009). Healing with whole foods: Asian traditions and Modern Nutrition. North Atlantic Books.
- Maciocia, G. (2015). The foundations of Chinese medicine: A comprehensive text. Elsevier.
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