WELLNESS--With Chinese Medicine we are taught that as the elements change and the cooler weather moves into our environment, it also moves into our bodies. Fall is in full swing, so we need to be mindful by taking certain steps that will help keep us healthy and well as we enter the cooling months.
For starters, sleep more. Many people are noticing that they feel sleepier as we move into October and November. This is because as the days get shorter, there is more darkness and the brain picks up on the lesser amount of light. With less light during the shorter days, the pineal gland as apt to create more melatonin making us want to sleep more that normal. The best solution to this is to allow yourself more rest when possible. If you have kids, get them into bed a little earlier than usual so you can also get yourself to bed. If your single, pick an earlier and reasonable time to turn off the screens so your brain can start preparing for sleep. Your body and brain will thank you for the increase in sleep time.
Regarding foods, eat more soups and stews. As the cold weather moves in, we don’t want it to move into our bodies. Warming foods like onions, garlic, and ginger become even more important to cook with in the winter months especially considering the antiviral qualities of those foods. Try to avoid too many cool drinks and cooling foods. Fall and winter is a great time to steam your veggies instead of eating them raw, and to drink hot tea and room temperature water instead of ice cold drinks.
In Chinese medical theory, the spleen is like the gas burner on your stove and the stomach is the pot with the food cooking in it. The less cool and cold foods we add to the pot the less work the spleen has to do to heat it, so eat foods that are already cooked during these months. It will make it easier on your body to digest them and use them as energy.
As the days get shorter and the darkness moves in, the chemicals in our brain also shift causing us to feel more sleepy and less energized if we are not taking proper care of ourselves. Because of this, the temptation for caffeine in the form of that afternoon cup of coffee or sugar in that candy or muffin grows stronger during the winter months. Add holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving, and we usually have an abundance of sugar and processed foods at our fingertips.
One great way to fight the urge is to find someone you work with that is also concerned about putting their health and wellness first, and create an accountability buddy partnership. Set some realist healthy goals with this person and be sure to include realistic goals without trying to be perfect.
A great example of this is “every Sunday we can eat whatever I want, but during the week and at work we will not eat sugars or refined foods.” It helps tremendously to have someone you are accountable to, and actually makes the process fun. I love to use the fall and winter as a time of increased self care and wellness. That way, when the spring arrives, I feel like I already have a jump on my summer health goals!