As spring gracefully gives way to summer, nature's palette transitions from pastel blooms to vibrant hues, embracing the warmth and energy that the new season brings. During this changing of seasons, it is important that we pay attention to how the summer weather and energy affects our bodies and spirits.
In traditional Chinese Medicine, the summer embodies the height of yang and the element of fire. This season is most associated with the heart organ, the emotion of joy, and the color red. As such, the summer is a time of activity, growth, expansion, and creativity. During this season, it is important for us to nourish our bodies and spirits, seek physical and mental activity, and find joy.
A balanced fire element will manifest as a strong and healthy heart, a calm mind, and sound, restful sleep. When the fire element is out of balance, this may result in a lack of joy (depression), excess joy (mania), agitation, nervousness, heartburn, and insomnia. By making simple lifestyle and dietary changes, we can ensure that we maintain balance within our body amongst the oncoming heat.
Embrace Early Mornings and Late Nights
The summer months are known for their long days and short nights. Align your sleep schedule with the summer hours by waking up early and going to bed late, allowing you to make full use of the energetic daytime. If needed, take a break at midday to rest, recuperate, and recharge your energy.
Seek Water to Balance the Fire Element
As always, balance is key in maintaining overall health and wellness. Water serves as a counterbalance to the dominant fire element during the summer. Incorporate water-related activities into your routine, such as taking cold baths or showers, swimming, or spending time near bodies of water. These activities will expel excess heat and bring balance to your body.
Nourish Your Mind and Body
You may notice an increase in energy and activity levels in your body during the summer. Cultivate your yang energy by engaging in more physical activities. Exercise that supports cardiac health – such as walking, hiking, and swimming – will be particularly beneficial to your heart organ. Additionally, nourish your mind by pursuing creative projects. Painting, building, writing, or anything that engages your creative side will do.
Cultivate Joy and Laughter
Expressions of joy come most naturally during summer’s sunny days and warm nights. Cultivate joy and laughter by socializing with people who you love, finding time to play and go on adventures, and nurturing your inner child. Of course, be sure to maintain balance with adequate rest and relaxation.
Light, Cool Foods
The heat of the summer can make our bodies more prone to indigestion. This is why we recommend eating light, cooling yin foods that will clear heat, reduce toxins, and generate bodily fluids. Green veggies, such as cucumber, lettuce, and watercress, are known for their cooling properties. For protein, opt for fish and seafood over other meats, which are typically warming.
Bitter, the flavor of fire, helps guide qi to the heart. Bitter foods have a cooling effect and help expel excess heat and dampness, especially from the heart. Some examples of bitter foods and herbs include celery, lettuce, dandelion, and chrysanthemum. Make sure to consume bitter foods in moderation, as overconsumption can lead to bloating and indigestion.
Avoid Heavy, Greasy, and Fried Foods
To maintain balance, it is advisable to steer clear of heavy, greasy, and fried foods during summer. These types of foods can burden the digestive system and contribute to feelings of sluggishness and discomfort. Instead, focus on lighter cooking methods such as steaming, sautéing, and stir-frying with minimal oil.
It is highly important to stay hydrated as both temperatures and our activity increase. Replenishing your fluids can be as simple as drinking plain water, or try water infused with lemon and cucumber slices for a refreshing twist. Cooling teas such as green tea, mint, chrysanthemum, and honeysuckle are also a great option to help regulate body temperature and promote circulation. However, try to stay away from ice cold beverages and foods as they will cause the digestive system to slow.
Chrysanthemum tea is the perfect cooling and refreshing drink for the summer. This simple yet tasty recipe will aid in clearing heat and building bodily fluids.
- 15-20 white chrysanthemum flowers
- 1 teaspoon Jasmine Yinhao Green Tea
- 4 cups water
- Rock sugar or honey to taste
Rinse the chrysanthemum flowers and place the washed flowers, green tea, and water in a cooking pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and continue to cook for 20 minutes. Add rock sugar or honey to taste before removing the pot from the heat. Allow the tea to cool until it reaches room temperature, and then strain and refrigerate. Serve the tea chilled and enjoy!