Living With the Season – Late Summer

It’s Late summer which means hot, muggy weather and heat-breaking afternoon thunderstorms. Late summer is considered one of the five major seasons in Chinese Medicine and we find it useful to look to Nature as a guide to understand how life (human, animal, plants, etc.) is affected by the seasons.

In August, Nature is undergoing its last burst of growth before harvest time. In Chinese Medicine, Late Summer corresponds to the nurturing Earth element, so the next few weeks are an important time for self-nurturing and self-cultivation. This a powerful time for us to use the last bit of Summer’s energy to fully ripen and transform.

If you are wondering how seasonal energies influence our physical well-being, read on.

Associated with the Earth element, are the Stomach and the Spleen. These organs are responsible for transforming food and drink into what what will become the energy, Blood and Fluids the body needs for all bodily functions. You can easily assess whether your Stomach or Spleen are in harmony with the seasonal energies of Late Summer. When the Earth Element is in balance we are able to nourish ourselves and those around us in a supportive manner. In balance, the Earth element gives us strong muscles, vibrant energy and the ability to think and study clearly. Out of balance the body is weak, the muscles become flaccid and soft, there is often obesity and problems of the digestive tract. If you experience nausea, stomach flu, IBS, weight gain, blood sugar disorders, or are low on energy, your Stomach and Spleen may be out of balance.

Think about all that we ask our bodies to digest—foods that we eat, things that we see or hear, and emotions that we feel and experience. Keeping our Stomach and Spleen energy strong and balanced provides a solid foundation for lifelong mind-body-spirit health.

If you are feeling out of balance, try these tips to achieve a better state of Stomach and Spleen balance this season.

  1. Eat Seasonal Produce: You’ve probably heard me say this before because it’s so important no matter the season. Farmer’s markets are in full-swing in late summer, with produce (often organic) that is locally grown. You might consider giving up meat for a week, and instead stock up on fresh fruits and veggies. Maybe grill some cauliflower or chop up an avocado and mango salad? Let your creativity guide you.
  2. Nurture Yourself: Shower yourself with positive thoughts and self-love. Try something different and exciting (learn something new, take an art class or paint a bench for your garden) and watch yourself blossom! Or maybe you could take yourself on a relaxing mini-vacation. BTW – August 10 is Lazy Day, and August 15 is Relaxation Day. Mark your calendar and take time to relax!
  3. Connect to Nature: So important for our mental health, yet we are often so busy in our daily routines, especially now that school has started back, that we how Nature nurtures us. Take some time each day to get outside in Nature. We are blessed with many nature trails in our area such as Line Creek and Flat Creek Nature Centers, and the Chattahoochee Bend State Park. We have parks galore and even if you don’t have time for a hike, just a stroll around the yard or neighborhood can capture your attention.
  4. Don’t Worry, Be Happy! Worry is the emotion that greatly impacts the function of the Stomach and Spleen. When you come to a worrisome situation, take a step back and breathe deeply. Try to look at the situation from a different perspective. Find a reason to smile. It is said that when we worry, we are looking to the future rather than being in the present, and I find it helpful to think of things I’m grateful for today.

This is a great time to enjoy the last bit of summer before we transition into Autumn, and begin to balance and stabilize our immune system (which begins in the gut). If you need help bringing your digestive system back into balance, or want to nourish yourself, please come see me.