“What good is the warmth of Summer, without the cold of Winter to give it sweetness”, says author John Steinbeck in his book, “Travels with Charley: In Search of America”.
Long humid days, short warm nights, the intoxicating smells of abundant plumeria blooms and mangoes so full of juice that it drips down your arm in a sticky stream. Summer conjures joyful feelings for most of us with fond memories of vacation from school, beach days and leisurely late nights outside in the warm air.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Summer is the season of the heart, whose emotion is joy. The heart isn’t just the organ that pumps blood throughout your body, it’s also the home of your spirit or shen in TCM.
Summer is a season full of abundance—warmth, activity and outward growth. It’s a great time to pursue creative projects that bring your spirit joy, socialize with friends outside and reap the benefits of these long warm days before they shorten into the cooler ones of Fall.
The Summer heat has both positive and negative impacts on our bodies. We feel energetic and happy because it’s warm and bright. However, too much exertion in the heat can lead to exhaustion, agitation, headaches and sometimes insomnia.
Tips for staying balanced in the Summer:
~Drink lots of water:
Room temperature water is ideal. Although we may crave iced drinks, thinking that it feels refreshing, it’s actually increasing our internal body heat trying to warm up that cold liquid in our stomach. In turn, this slows down our entire body process, including digestion which can lead to bloating, indigestion and constipation. In addition to water, some energetically cooling teas like mint, chrysanthemum and the Hawaiian mamaki tea will help naturally cool the body down without ice.
~Eat cooling foods:
All foods in TCM have an energetic property. Conveniently, the foods that are abundant in Summer are ideal for keeping our bodies cool. Foods such as watermelon, cucumber, berries, zucchini and bitter greens like Romaine lettuce are all good at cooling us down as well as increasing the amount of water we ingest.
~Avoid heavy and cold foods:
Red meat, greasy foods and cold dairy foods like ice cream severely impair digestion and may create more heat in the body. Best foods for summer are lightly cooked seasonal vegetables and easy to digest foods like light broths and soups.
When we are enjoying the cool ocean at a hot day at the beach, we may end up sitting around for extended periods in our wet bathing suits, which is not ideal. It can weaken our immunity and allow the cold to sneak in. This is especially important for women, as it can increase urinary tract infections, yeast infections and cause difficulties with menstruation.
~Be mindful of the temperature and wind:
Due to the increased temperatures of Summer, our pores are open more to allow for sweating. Be mindful of when the wind picks up—it might feel good in the moment, but can allow a cold to sneak in. Keep a light sweater or scarf handy for when it gets breezy.
We hope these tips help and that you’re enjoying your Summer season.