Summer means sunshine, long days and abundant energy. Weather and time of the year can significantly influence how we feel, both physically and emotionally. In the theory of Yin and Yang, summer is the most Yang time of the year, hence no surprise that it’s all about expansion, growth, activity and creativity. In Chinese philosophy, summer is associated with the fire element, the colour red, the organ systems heart and small intestine and the emotion joy.
Summer is a good time to pay attention to your heart health. An imbalanced heart system with too little joy (depression) or too much joy (mania) can leave you agitated, nervous and suffering with heartburn or insomnia. The fire of summer can exacerbate imbalances in the water element, like menopausal symptoms. When your heart system is balanced, your mind is calm, you feel cooler and sleep well.
Tips for a balanced summer:
- Adjust your sleep and rest patterns. This is the time of maximum daylight, so you’ll be in tune with nature if you wake up earlier and go to sleep later. Some rest around midday would be a bonus.
- Be active. You should have more energy at your disposal now, enjoy it.
- Eat in moderation and in season. Avoid huge meals and focus on Yin foods, to balance summer’s Yang. Avoid excessive amounts of hot spices like chilli and garlic – you don’t want to encourage heat. Now is the time to have cooling vegetables like tomato or cucumber, and enjoy beans and seaweed. Tip: boiling beans with a stripe of kombu seaweed helps break down hard-to-digest fibers, hence less gas!
- Hydrate. To make it more enjoyable, infuse your water with cooling foods, such as cucumber, peppermint leaves or watermelon slices. Reduce stimulants like coffee, to avoid overheating. Brew chrysanthemum, linden or hawthorn tea. You can drink them cool, but avoid adding ice as it can shock the stomach and impact your digestion. Tip: make your own barley water – a traditional remedy for so-called ‘damp heat’ conditions – by dry roasting two ounces of barley and simmering it with two pints of water until soft. You can also add some lemon juice after straining.
- Stay grounded. This is another way you can connect with Yin to balance summer’s Yang. Stand in the grass, in the sand or in the ocean. Connect with the earth while gardening.
- Avoid ticks to minimize the risk of Lyme’s disease if you spend time outdoors. Make sure your legs are covered if you walk through fields and woods. Tip: ticks don’t like the smell of rose geranium oil. If you want to try, explore the variety pelargonium capitatum x radens.
- Cultivate joy. Be grateful for nature’s abundance in summer, socialise, seek and nurture relationships and… smile!