Most of the world has been in hibernation, not only from winter, but also from living in fear of COVID-19 and the ongoing pandemic. We are beginning to emerge from our cocoons, wearing masks a bit less often and hoping that the pandemic is almost in our rear view mirror. With school out for the year and vacations being planned, one thing we do know is that summer is here. You can feel the yang/hot energy of the season with streets, trails and parks filled with people enjoying the warmer weather.
In Chinese medicine, summer belongs to fire, one of the five elements. Fire is symbolic of maximum yang, which means that summer is a time of heat, growth and outward movement. In nature, we see the flowers and trees blooming out toward the sun. In the human body, the fire element expresses itself through the heart, mind and spirit. The heart controls mental activity, thought processes and emotional well-being. To promote health during the summer, we can work on being conscious about our emotional self by honoring the messages of the heart, nourishing the mind and embracing our true spirit. When the heart is in balance, the body is healthy, the mind is peaceful and sleep is sound. When the fire element is out of balance, depression, anxiety, nervousness, heartburn or insomnia may be present.
The warmer weather elevates the desire to be more physically active. You can see people walking, running, hiking, kayaking and generally soaking in the outdoors. But if you’ve been more sedentary during the winter, think about starting off slowly to build strength and flexibility. Muscles and ligaments that have not been regularly moved and stretched for periods of time become stiff and contracted. Weekend warriors are often seen in our clinic for sprains and strains. Take the time to connect with your body gently and move in ways that are comfortable. Body awareness with consistent movement helps the heart’s main function of pumping oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. By listening to your body, you naturally extend the possibilities of being more active for longer periods of time without injuring yourself. In addition, physical exercise has been documented to help lift depression and balance emotions.