Summer is the season we associate with fun, relaxation, and carefree living. Our days are less structured, so our kids tend to stay up and sleep in later. We often become more lax with our diets too, as restaurants visited on family vacations don’t always have the best quality food. To stay well in summer, it’s important not to fall into unhealthy habits. Learn how to stay healthy in summer with these simple guidelines, so you can enjoy this season to the fullest!
How to Stay Healthy This Summer with TCM
1. Adjust Your Activity Level
The Yang energy of the sun reaches its maximum at the summer solstice on June 21. From there it starts a gradual decline until the winter Solstice in December.
What does that mean?
Since Yang is decreasing, Yin energy is increasing; we need to adjust our activity to become more Yin as well. Being “more Yin” means to embrace quiet, stillness, and our calm, receptive feminine nature.
I know, it doesn’t sound like summer. It’s supposed to be exciting!
Remember, this is a gradual change we’re adjusting to over the season. We can be lively in June and then start to ramp it down. By the end of August, hopefully we’re all grounded enough that kids can adjust well to the new school year and we can easily commit to our work life again.
If we ignore the cues from nature and go full force in the Summer Heat, we’re likely to burn out. This is bad new for our health in Fall, as we may get sick quickly and often without the restorative energy of Summer.
2. Get Some Morning Sun and Finish Activities Early
Part of adjusting your activity level is to also adjust the timing of your activities. If you live in a really hot climate, you already know how to do this well:
Get your workouts, errands, gardening, and other outdoor obligations done early.
You’ll need to resist the temptation to start the days slow. Trust me, you’ll be feeling great after absorbing that morning sun. It will elevate your mood and give you the energy you need to be productive. Then you can rest in the afternoon (which will become the hottest part of the day as summer progresses) completely guilt-free.
3. Eat These Foods to Stay Healthy in Summer
Summer is packed full of opportunities to eat out – restaurants, ballparks, amusement parks, family BBQs, etc. Since you may not always have control over these meals, it’s extra important to eat well at home.
Our digestion is stronger in summer. We’re now able to eat raw and cooling foods without gas and bloating.
These are the best foods to balance summer heat (from The Tao of Nutrition):
Everyone should do their best to refrain from these foods which may increase heat in the body and cause inflammation, dryness, constipation, and headaches.
- processed sugar
- deep fried foods
- caffeine (not too much chocolate either!)
- hot, spicy foods
You may want to revisit: Have a Sweet Summer Without Excess Sugar
4. Be Cool and Refrain From Anger & Overexcitement
Anger and mania cause heat to rise internally according to Chinese Medicine philosophy. Accumulation of heat internally over a long period of time can cause disease. Anger and excitement are normal human emotions, of course, but it’s important to be mindful of what is causing them so we’re not caught up in these emotions continuously.
Meditation helps us become less reactive, and is a great practice to remain calm, cool, and level-headed. If you’re not ready to meditate, you can try to process your emotions through journaling or talking with a dear friend. You can try a Yin yoga practice which is an active meditation. Or use essential oils to manage your emotions and the heat that can arise.
Chinese Medicine helps us to see the connection between us and nature. Living in harmony with the rhythm of nature and preventing disease is the basis of it’s philosophy. If you adhere to these guidelines, or at least try returning to them whenever you get off track with summer (& sometimes unhealthy) fun, then you’ll find that you maintain wellness longer.
If you enjoyed this article, please share with your friends! Let me know what you think of these summer health tips in the comments. Well wishes to you…