5 ways to stay healthy this fall

“Life Starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fall is personally my favorite season in New York. I love the cool, crisp air, cozy layers, warm beverages, warm foods, excuse to cozy up at home, and the gorgeous display of colors in the parks. A sense of nostalgia and inspiration emerges as we let go of the summer and transition into the new season.

Along with a sense of nostalgia, we may begin to feel unresolved or unexplained grief or sadness bubble up to the surface; we may feel a longing for a higher purpose. Experiencing these feelings is very normal and natural as our energy shifts inward from the fiery excitement of summer into the metal energy of fall. In chinese medicine, one of the best ways to stay healthy is to understand the nature of each season, their energies and how to best stay in tune with each of them. Every season is related to a natural element (fire, earth, metal, water and wood), organ and emotion. Fall is the season of metal, the lungs and large intestines, grief, sadness and letting go.

When you understand the essence and qualities of each season and incorporate them into your life and observe those qualities in yourself, you’ll be able to use that information as a guide to understanding yourself and your body and will be able to easily transition from season to season, warding off illness, and feeling balanced and healthy throughout the yearly cycle.

There is a very deep and gorgeous depth to chinese medicine and the five elements and how those qualities show up in each and every one of us, manifesting in different ways. I’ll be touching on a lot of that in later posts, so stay tuned! For the purpose of this post, I’ve outlined a few key qualities of metal, as well as actions you can take that will help you to stay healthy and feeling your best this fall!

Wear a Scarf:  So simple yet so important! In chinese medicine, the lung organ is associated with fall and is the most delicate and most exterior organ in the meridian system. During the fall, the lung is extra vulnerable and needs to be protected so it can do its job of preventing illness, such as colds and flu which enter through the back of the neck. As the weather gets colder and windier, be sure to bundle up and cover the back of your neck with a cozy scarf. 

Clear out the old: The energy of this season is about letting go of anything in our lives that is not serving us and is weighing us down. When we are able to let go, we make room to take in pure new experiences and relationships, returning us to who we truly are at our essence and bringing to light what is most cherished in our lives. You can do this by clearing clutter in your home (closets, drawers cabinets) that you no longer need. Or, if you are harboring resentment, negative or unresolved feelings towards anyone, contact them and attempt to resolve the old issue and let it go. If it’s not possible to resolve old issues in person or over the phone, write out what you would say on paper, and then burn the paper as a symbol of letting it go. 

Be inspired: When our lung energy is strong, it is easier for us to stay inspired. As discussed above, when we let go of what is weighing us down we make room for new, pure experiences in our lives, strengthening our lung energy. Now is the time to revisit and immerse yourself in the things that inspire you! Whether it’s reading an inspirational book, listening to live music, wandering around a museum, taking an art or cooking class, or simply sitting in the park taking in the nature around you. If you’re not sure what it is that inspires you, let your curiosity lead you to something new and be open to a new experience.

“when you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover your self to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”-Patanjali

Eat Warm Foods: As the weather gets cooler, it’s time to switch from salads to warm soups and stews. Focus on eating more cooked foods rather than raw foods. Now is the time to enjoy all the delicious root vegetables that are in season, such as sweet potato, yams, turnips, beets, pumpkin, and squash. Try sipping on bone broth or tea instead of raw juice and smoothies. Swap your cold cereal or fruit in the morning for warm oatmeal. For a warming delicious dessert, I recommend baking apples or pears. In fact, pears have the added bonus of being one of the best fruits you can eat to nourish your lungs according to chinese medicine. 

Cordyceps: Cordyceps, called Dong Chong Xia Cao in chinese herbal medicine, is a medicinal mushroom that is used as a tonic for increasing vitality. In chinese herbal medicine, this herb benefits the kidney and lung meridians in relation to a variety of health issues such as fatigue, low libido, night sweats, lower back pain and various respiratory issues. I recommend cordyceps during the fall as it boosts your immune system and strengthens your lung energy. I love Sun Potion Organic Cordyceps Mushroom Powder – 100 Gram Jar. Simply add it to your tea, matcha, coffee or smoothies.

If you’d like to learn more about chinese medicine and the five elements, I highly recommend the book, Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine. It’s a great introduction to understanding chinese medicine.

Happy Fall! And remember to slow down and breathe. Your lungs will thank you.