Staying Healthy in Summer
Every season is associated with one of the Five Elements, and for Summer, the element is ‘Fire.’
Summer weather is typically hot, and relatively damp. For example, the muggy feeling you experience during Summer comes from heat causing dampness to condense and rise as it gets hotter. As on the outside, so too on your inside: in summertime, there is a tendency for dampness to accumulate within your body.
The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered: “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Summer Health Problems
During Summer, some typical heat-related problems are: headaches, rashes, and feelings of irritation.
For example: blood pressure may rise from too much heat trapped in the body causing headaches. Damp-induced blister rashes, or boils can erupt on the skin. And an over-heated Heart and Liver can make you feel irritated.
Summer Health Tips
It’s important to drink enough water and eat the right foods to ensure you’re meeting your body’s Summertime needs.
• Drink more water. Because it’s hot and you perspire a lot during the Summer, the average amount of water you should drink in a 24-hour period is 48 ounces; this includes all fluids, such as, juice, soda, and other beverages. (Note: 48 ounces is the equivalent of 6 eight ounce glasses.)
When you are sweating more than usual, drinking more is advisable. It’s important to pay attention to how you feel, and drink more when you’re thirsty.
• Monitor your intake of salt.An imbalance of salt in your body—too much, or too little— can readily occur when temperatures are hot.
You will know you’re getting too much salt if you find that rings you wear get tighter; and socks or shoes that fit you comfortably during cooler weather, leave lines or wrinkles on your feet or ankles because of too much fluid in those areas.
• Eat cooling foods. Cucumbers, mung beans, mung bean sprouts and watermelon are particularly good foods to eat in the Summer. They help keep your body cool, and because of their diuretic properties, they also help offset excess salt intake.
... and REMEMBER
The Way of Prevention
Financial health suffers from a lack of reserves; so too does body & mental health. Build and protect your Chi/Energy and spend it wisely.
As a culture, and as individuals, we need to change our way of thinking about health: change our perspective from crisis mode to prevention mode. This means noticing and understanding symptoms, and dealing with them, before they become a health problem. Because when a discomfort morphs into a crisis, it’s much harder to bring the body back into balance and heal whatever damage has been done.
Be Your Personal Health Care Provider
I need to take responsibility for my own health and well-being, and not make it someone else’s job. For example: if I’m having trouble with headaches, I need to learn what causes my headaches, and more importantly, I need to explore what I can do to keep from getting a headache in the first place. It can be done. But not if I ignore the symptoms that lead up to a migraine.
The Preventive Path
So what’s the ‘best’ preventive path to follow? Oriental Medicine has a history of being very good at preventing serious illness because it’s aimed at early stages.
Ancient Chinese doctors understood that if you’re going to be exposed to a germ that causes a cold, it’s much better to deal with the germ when you have a sniffle to keep it from becoming pneumonia. Like if a house has termites, it’s much healthier to catch them in the second week, rather than the second year, after they’ve done all kinds of damage.
Is Oriental Medicine the ‘only’ way of preventive health? No, and as a practitioner and consumer of Oriental Medicine I know how beneficial it is in helping to strengthen and maintain a person’s energy so the body, mind, and spirit can deal with the stresses they’re subjected to.
Regardless of which path toward preventive health you choose, by following it you’ll be happier and healthier—and spend less money getting there.
The Preventive Way
Pay attention. Catch it early. Don’t wait until it gets worse.
Jumping Into Spring
It’s Spring, we know it by what we see and feel around us. The feeling of Spring typically is one of excitement, with the return of the light and the promise of Summer.
There’s another level of Spring ‘feeling’ to be aware of too: The feeling of how you feel in your body as Spring energy builds.
On tips of branches
Buds burst with tiny flowers,
Spring is here!
- Lao Xian
With the arrival of Spring lots of people are jumping-with-joy; but there’s another kind of ‘jumpiness’ that comes with the arrival of Spring. That’s the feeling of restlessness and ‘jumpiness’ that can affect your health in the form of restless leg, insomnia and other Liver-related discomforts.
It starts with the surge of Spring or ‘Liver’ energy.
Some people are predisposed to this ‘nervy’ or ‘jumpy’ discomfort, and in Spring it gets worse. Others of us start to feel the ‘jumpy’ energy of Spring as a hyper-energetic feeling that gets us into the garden, taking trips, going out for a run, planning projects, or just getting up and going.
How that burst of energy makes you feel depends on the health of your nervous system, which is affected by the Liver—the most dynamic organ in Spring.
Don’t Get Overwhelmed
So if you’re feeling jumpy, clogged up, or generally out of sorts and haven’t tried Oriental Medicine up until now, it’s something to consider. And keep in mind that how you treat your Liver in Spring plays a great role in how comfortable you’re going to feel in your body.