By Licensed Acupuncturist Austin Dixon
Am I the only one feeling like there is too much happening and too many places to be right now?
Probably not. This feeling is typical for this time of year. There is a lot going on and we want to do all of it. Our busy Spring/Summer schedule can make us feel excited, energized, yet completely overwhelmed and exhausted. You might find yourself overdoing it a bit and craving down time but struggling to find it. This kind of constant activity leaves us feeling burned out and resentful. Though we are responsible for knowing our own limits and not over-committing, we aren’t completely to blame for our packed schedules. Nature plays a role as well.
Chinese Medicine is based around the balance (yin and yang) in nature. We are a part of nature and very much influenced by its changes, sometimes subtle and sometimes not so subtle. Changes in the seasons affect our physical and emotional balance. In the Spring, Yin (calm, cooling, slow energy) is moving into Yang (energetic, hot, fast energy) preparing to peak at the height of summer. It is only normal that as the days get longer and the weather gets warmer our bodies do, too. We start to crave more activity and movement. Plans get made, vacations are set, and the next thing we know we have no down time. We have completely lost our friend, Yin, that we got to know so well over the Winter. We can’t just ignore Yin during the summer months and hope that sleep will balance it all out. We have to create our own Yin moments. When we balance our Yin and Yang we are at optimal health and all the systems in the body run properly and smoothly.
Here are some ideas for balancing your Yin during the summer….
- Get acupuncture. Even if you “don’t have anything wrong”, acupuncture helps balance the body and improve the function of all the systems.
- Get a massage. Massage not only feels good but also has many health benefits.
- Meditate. You don’t have to sit for hours everyday to meditate. Start with 3 minutes of quiet everyday. And remember, meditating doesn’t mean you sit without having thoughts. That is practically impossible. Meditating is sitting quietly noticing your thoughts. That’s it. If that feels like too much to ask, try focusing on your breath by making the inhale and exhale equal. 3 minutes will fly by.
- Exercise in the morning. Exercising is a Yang activity. Our Yang energy is rising in the morning and peaking at noon. When we exercise in the morning we are working with natural energy of the day when neither Yin nor Yang are in full force. After noon Yin begins to increase. The later we get in the day the more present Yin is. Honor the flow and keep your evening activities relaxed and calming. If you want to be a Yin Yang Overachiever you can even plan a noon nap everyday. Countering the most Yang part of the day with the most Yin activity.
- Do Tai Chi and/or Qi Gong. Both of these are forms of gentle exercises designed to bring body awareness and superior health and wellness. It is best to do at sunrise and sunset, but you will still get the benefits anytime of day.
- Get plenty of sleep! Sleep is when our body replenishes itself. It is a Yin activity. Sleep is extremely important to keeping a good balance.
- Don’t drink too much coffee. Coffee gives us a false sense of energy all the while depleting the reserves we do have. I love my cup of coffee, but too much of it will have me running on empty.
- Food! It is important to balance Yin and Yang foods with an extra emphasis on the Yin. Most veggies are Yin and cooling, especially the green, leafy ones. Fish and seafood are cooling as well as seaweed. There is a lot of information online about how to eat in alignment with the seasons and Chinese Medicine.
I hope you have found this helpful. It is hard to live a balanced life these days. Start small and feel proud of the small successes. Good luck everyone!