How do you know Summer has arrived here in Brisbane? Is it the scorching heat and drenching humidity? The dramatic late afternoon storms with thunder and lightning put on a great show in the sky? Is it the delicious fruit that comes into season at this time of year? Think mangoes, watermelon, cherries, plums, peaches, melons and berries.
Is it the early sunrises and late sunsets? The beach? Splashing in the pool? Time off work? Getting together with families and friends for a BBQ? The mozzies who are the uninvited guests at every gathering? Summer here in Australia is a time for getting into the great outdoors and being active.
Summer is the most Yang time of the year. Yang is all about energy, movement, and warmth. It represents doing and our attempts to change ourselves and the world around us. Yang energy is also about creativity, growth and expansion. (Let’s hope that expansion is not to our waistlines as we enter this celebratory season!)
East Asian Medicine teaches us that Summer belongs to Fire, one of the five elements. The Fire element rules the heart, mind, and spirit in human anatomy. This means that top priority should be given to these to stay healthy in Summer. When the Fire element is in balance, the heart is strong and healthy, the mind is calm, and sleep is sound.
In East Asian medicine, the heart includes the organ itself and the idea of the heart as an emotional centre involving the mind. The heart regulates blood circulation and controls consciousness, sleep, memory, and spirit. In acupuncture, the heart meridian affects both the physical heart and the mind.
So, with all this in mind, what are some practical ways we can maximise our health this Summer?
It is essential to be in harmony with what that time of the year offers us in any season. In Summer, this can be about rising early, as the sun does, and stepping into nature – the beach, the bush, your garden or back yard – and being aware of the beauty all around. Do some gardening, go for a walk by the river, or picnic in one of Brisbane’s beautiful parks.
Summer food and preparation
One thing you might not know about our digestive system in Summer
Summer offers us a variety of beautiful colours in our fruits and vegetables here in Brisbane. Creating delicious and visually appealing meals and snacks with seasonal produce is a great way to celebrate the season and maximise nutrition. Although cold and cool foods are often our instinctive choices when the weather is hot, it is crucial to incorporate heat in our food and preparation methods. According to Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, Summer heat combined with too much cold food weakens the digestive organs.
In Summer we lose a lot of heat. Unlike in Winter, Yang energy moves out of our body via sweat to cool down. As a result, our digestive system is cooling down a little as well. According to East Asian medicine, our gut operates like an oven. It needs warmth to perform well and digest food properly. In Summer, the Yang in the digestive system is a little cooler than in Winter and, therefore, more vulnerable to health issues. If we eat or drink a lot of cold products, we overload our gut in the digestive process. Have you ever heard of Summer diarrhoea? It is a widespread symptom due to too much ingested cold food. Cold food causes the intestines to contract, interfering with digestion by holding on to heat. Have you ever noticed that Chinese people drink hot tea in Summer? They know that the digestive system needs to be supported with warmth. Hence, Pitchford suggests light cooking methods such as sautéing lightly over high heat for a short period.
Why is Summer an excellent time for acupuncture?
1 Staying balanced when things get hectic
Summer can be a really busy time, and it’s essential to make sure we stay calm and relaxed throughout. Acupuncture helps harmonise the Fire element by working on heart, mind and spirit. It is a great way to stay balanced through the Summer, especially when things get a little overwhelming.
2 Restoring balance
Summer is often hectic, full of outdoor adventures and social commitments on top of our regular obligations. End-of-the-year-tiredness sets in for a lot of people. Ready to wind down but too wired to do so. Too much still to organise, to complete before the well-deserved holidays.
It is easy to get literally overheated and burnt out with all the activity. Acupuncture can restore a sense of calm that allows you to be relaxed and present. It helps soothe your nervous system and stimulates those feel-good hormones, so you’ll be feeling happy and ready to enjoy the season.
We’re here to help
So, it might be a good idea to slot in a treatment when things get overwhelming and you feel a bit anxious to get things done before Christmas. Our clinic is open until the 23rd of December, and we will continue to support you through the Summer in the new year.
If you would like to make a last-minute appointment, please contact us at Ondol Clinic to help you through this special time of the year.