Learn more about the fall season and Chinese medicine - as well as tips and habits for transitioning into the fall season with ease.
The cozy days of fall are near - and that means it’s the perfect time for a wellness reset!
While a cool autumn day is a welcome relief for many of us, we are also slightly more vulnerable to imbalances during this time. Issues related to our lungs, skin, gut, and mental health are common in fall, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be clutching the Kleenex box all season! There are many habits we can adopt to stay on top of our health through the season.
Read on to learn more about the fall season and Chinese medicine - as well as tips and habits for transitioning into the fall season with ease.
Chinese Medicine and the Fall Season
In Chinese medicine, fall marks the transition from the yang season to the yin season.
Summer is hot, active, and expansive, while winter is cold, quiet, and internal. Fall provides the perfect time to shift our gears and move inward.
In Chinese medicine, Fall is also considered the metal season. Metal is neat, cool, and dry, and provides the order and focus we need to organize ourselves for the rest of the year. It is also the season of the Lung and Large Intestine. Think carefully about what you are taking in and letting go of - both literally and figuratively!
Metal corresponds to the Lung and Large Intestine systems. As such, there is a higher likelihood of developing issues related to respiratory issues and digestion.
Potential Fall Health Issues
- Colds and flu
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion
- Dry skin
- Increases in skin conditions like hives, eczema, psoriasis
- Melancholy and depression
The Calm Guide to Living Well in Fall: Tips for Mind, Body, and Home
Eating seasonally is smart any time of year, but it is particularly important in autumn. Thankfully, nature provides us with plenty of deliciously healthy foods in fall that support the immune system, keep us warm, and nourish us from within.
What to Eat in Fall
- Transition from cold or raw summer foods (salad, sushi, smoothies) to warmer, cooked foods in winter. Soups are a great way to protect your immune system and boost your energy naturally.
- Enjoy a wide range of flavors, but particularly sour and spicy foods. Sour foods (like citrus fruits, pickles, and green apples) nourish yin and moisten dryness. This helps prevent the dry skin, sore throats, and coughs that are common in autumn. Spicy or acrid foods (like chili, spices, ginger, pepper, and garlic) support the immune system and keep you warm.
- Eat seasonal foods like apples, persimmons, pumpkin, figs, mushrooms, nuts, seeds, or whatever is in season in your local area.
Chinese Medicine-Approved Recipes for Fall
These recipes are inspired by TCM dietary therapy and perfect to warm your belly this fall.
- Eight Treasure Congee (rice porridge)
- Immune Boosting Onion and Chicken Soup
- Mushroom Galette with Lily Bulb
- Maple Roasted Pumpkin with Chili and Feta
- Healthy Apple Crisp
Movement and Rest
After the rush of summer, we all need a good rest. Fall’s inward and restorative energy is the perfect retreat after the rush of summer. Balance some much-needed rest with moderate exercise to stay healthy all autumn long.
What to Do
- Transition from high-energy exercises to more moderate or slightly lower intensity workouts (like yoga, tai chi, qigong, walking, or swimming).
- Practice daily breathing exercises like the 4-7-8 breath or alternate nostril breathing. Breathing exercises are a simple way to strengthen your lungs and release stress at the same time.
- Create an evening wind-down routine. It’s normal for your sleep schedule to fluctuate in fall (or any change of season). But, you can reduce your sleepless nights by incorporating a night time wind-down routine that supports restful sleep. Choose 2-3 activities that release stress and ease your brain into relaxation mode.
Many people love the mood of autumn - it’s like sinking into a comfy chair and taking a big deep breath after a fun, but hectic party.
This is a time of order and boundaries, as well as retreating inward to focus on your internal thoughts and desires. Enjoy spending a little more time feeling introspective or daydreaming.
Because grief is the emotion associated with autumn, it’s normal to feel a little sadder than usual. Or, perhaps this time of year is when you feel most nostalgic for times gone by. If that’s the case, embrace it! In Chinese medicine, there are no bad emotions. Trouble happens when we suppress our emotions and don’t fully process them. If there was a loss that you didn’t fully work through, now is the time to revisit it and find closure.
Mental Health Habits for Fall
- Start a gratitude journal or “morning pages” to spend time exploring your inner world. Journaling can also be a great way to relieve stress and release pent up emotions.
- Practice the art of letting go. Holding on to emotions, relationships, commitments, or even material items that no longer serve you can weigh on your mental health. Use the natural energy of fall to help you release the old and move on.
- Try walking meditation. Walking meditation is an excellent way to clear your head while embracing the beauty of fall. Simply enjoy a quiet walk while noticing the sights, smells, sounds, and feel of fall. Or, try a guided walking meditation for mindfulness.
You’ve heard of spring cleaning, but what about fall cleaning?! Because the lungs, skin, and digestive organs can be vulnerable in fall, now is a great time to give your home a thorough clean.
Home Habits for Fall
- Do a fall home refresh. Replace air filters or screens to protect your lungs from fall pollen and dust and open the windows to let in fresh air.
- Declutter. Decluttering not only gives your home a makeover, but also helps you clean out your mind. Sorting through items can even be therapeutic - many people find that a good decluttering session can help them work out problems or reduce their stress and anxiety.
- Use aromatherapy to boost your mood and boost your lung function. Respiratory blends like Breathe and antibacterial blends like Thieves are great for diffusing throughout autumn to keep your immune system strong and your lungs healthy.
- Make the swap to non-toxic cleaning products. If you haven’t already ditched the chemical cleaners, now is the time to stock up on healthier alternatives while still preventing the spread of germs. Check out this guide from the Environmental Working Group on how to shop for cleaner alternatives.
Stay Healthy This Fall at Calm San Diego
Living in tune with the seasons is the best way to stay healthy all year round. Of course, we can’t solve all of our fall wellness woes with healthy recipes and a good night’s sleep. When you need a little extra support, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help!
At Calm San Diego, we’ll help you strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, and find balance through fall, winter, and beyond. Schedule your fall wellness visit today!