Let's all face it....getting sick sucks! And if you have a small child in your house, it feels doomed to happen. But luckily there are things that you can do to lessen your chances of feeling crumby this autumn/winter. And it doesn't include the flu shot!
Right now (in most parts of the Northern Hemisphere) when you step outside, you can definitely feel the cool autumn air. When I look up to the mountains here in Santa Fe, I see the golden color of the Aspen trees changing color before they drop their leaves. Looking to nature is a great way of remembering what you should also be doing for your body and mind to prepare for winter.
Mother nature is telling us it is time to pull back, to retain. We are moving from summer's Yang energy to winter's Yin. It is important to start drawing back and accumulating energy so that you are ready to go come Spring. The problem is that in modern culture we often ignore the natural rhythm of life and therefore we are usually depleted...which leaves us more susceptible to colds, flus, etc.
Hang with me for a moment while a get a bit theoretical....in TCM theory, we believe that autumn is associated with the metal element....which is associated withe the lung system. The emotional state of the lung system and metal element is sadness and grief. So despite all of the beauty and high clear skies we normally see in Autumn, emotionally we can easily become depressed. These emotions affect our physical states and leave us susceptible of getting colds and lung pathologies. So the best thing to do is to retain our spirit and lung energy. The best way to do this is through food and lifestyle choices.
- Go for leisurely hikes in areas of natural beauty. Aspen walks etc. Take advantage of the clean fresh and crisp Autumn air.
- Increase your sleep time. You probably slept less during the summer...now it's time to go to bed earlier.
- Drink an 8 oz glass of warm water in the morning (addition to your daily recommended water intake). The cool dry air of autumn injures your lung qi and dries up the lung yin and body fluids.
- Make sure you eat less pungent/spicy food in autumn, since pungent food is related to lung qi. Your body already has plenty of that energy since it is the autumn/metal season.
- Eat more sour tasting foods to add liver energy for lung and liver balance.
- Eat foods from this list: honey, walnuts, sesame seeds, fish, chicken, duck, lamb, beef, water chestnut, rice, Chinese dates, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, lemon, apples, raw milk, oats, and millet.
- Make sure you have enough probiotic in your diet. Kimchi, sauerkraut, homemade kefir/yogurt, or supplement. Most of your immune system is in your gut. The large intestine is coupled with the lungs and is also a part of the metal element. So take good care of your digestion.
- Let go of anything that is not serving you....physical or emotional. Clean out clutter of all kinds. Autumn teaches us the beauty of letting go.