Naturally, as we shift from season to season, our body has to adjust. Many people struggle with the change, which can lead to fatigue, depression, allergy symptoms and overall frustration.
The transition from Summer to Fall can seem the most significant. As the days get cooler and shorter, we start getting less natural vitamin D, more time indoors, and for many that work a 9-5, that can mean little or no exposure to sunlight.
In East Asian Medicine, the seasons are interconnected with different elements, all within a generating cycle:
Late Summer (Earth Element) transitions into Fall (Metal Element)
Fall transitions into Winter (Water Element)
Winter transitions into Spring (Wood Element)
Spring transitions into Summer (Fire Element)
Summer transitions into Late Summer (Earth Element)
Autumn is associated with the Lungs. The Lungs connect to the skin, bodily fluids, breathing, immune system and the sadness/grieving emotions. We are starting to transition from more yang energy (think masculine, external, fire) to more yin energy (think feminine, internal, cooling). In Yin Seasons, our bodies need to internalize and prepare for winter. You may notice your skin starts to become dryer, your throat and nose become dryer and itchier, you crave comfort and warmth and you may start to feel more melancholy.
So, I’m sharing some holistic and natural options to help you adapt to the change of seasons. These include diet, exercise and other lifestyle recommendations.
Sufficient water intake is essential as it is necessary to maintain bodily fluids, increasing moisture to skin and orifices. You can drink water, or you can obtain it through foods.
Foods that promote the production of bodily fluids include: nuts & seeds, mushrooms, plums, dates, pumpkin, honey and pears. Astringent, sour foods like pickles, lemons, grapefruit, pineapple and apples can help the body retain fluids.
Movement in any form helps move Qi. Qi is energy that helps circulate blood and bodily fluids and its natural flow is essential to all organ function. If Qi is not moving properly, it can lead to pain and depression.
Daily exercise, even a short walk can help stimulate Qi flow, increasing circulation. I recommend taking at least one daily walk to help prevent stagnation and promote the free flow of energy through the body.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that is vital to bone health, mood regulation and immunity. Normally, we can get most of our vitamin D through the sun. However, as we shift from summer to cooler weather, we are outside less and naturally have less sun exposure. You can also get vitamin D through foods like eggs, dairy, and fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, although most people do not consume enough of these foods and should add some sort of vitamin D supplement.
When taking a vitamin D supplement, make sure it’s made from whole foods without synthetic binders and preservatives. It can also be helpful to take vitamin D when eating especially healthy fats like nuts and avocados as that will help make the supplement more bioavailable. It can also help to take a magnesium supplement simultaneously as that also can increase the bioavailability of vitamin D.
In general, anywhere from 400-2000 IU of daily vitamin D3 intake would be appropriate for the average adult, however, it ranges based on several factors, so check-in with your doctor for personalized recommendations.
I really love Metabolic Maintenance Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc with Vitamin D, as these are all vitamins that help the others get absorbed, making them more bioavailable for the human body.
Using Light therapy in the morning can help mimic the effects of sunlight. Full-spectrum light therapy like Verilux Happy Light can stimulate happy hormones and help regulate our circadian rhythm by balancing serotonin and melatonin levels in the body.
Essential Oils like Peppermint or Lemongrass can help with fatigue and general malaise. I really love Now Brand’s Cheer Up Buttercup and thier Seasonal Changes Package. Eucalyptus Oil and Tea Tree Oil are anti-fungal and anti-microbial and are great for opening the sinuses if you have allergies or a stuffy nose.
It can be helpful to diffuse essential Oils like Clove, Cinnamon, Sandalwood and Frankincense to help warm and tonify your home.
As the seasons transition from Yang to Yin, posturally we tend to hunch forward and collapse our shoulders. This is energetically to protect the lungs and keep our warmth. Heart openers like Supported Fish Pose, Sphynx or Cobra Pose, Upward Facing Dog Pose and Cat/Cow Tilts will open the chest and shoulders.
Breathwork is especially important during Lung Season. Beginner breathwork like Alternating Nostril Breath and Three Part Breath can help expand lung capacity and help lower stress hormones.
As we transition into Yin Season, it’s natural to decompress, rest and restore. Make time for self-care, spend time with the ones you love and cook good food that nourishes the mind, body and spirit. Remember, it’s very natural to gain weight in the fall and winter months, be kind to your body, recognize its strength and all the wonderful ways it serves you. Stay healthy!