SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2012

FALL TOP TEN LIST

It’s that time of the year again...back to school, back to work, back to more structure in your life.  As Autumn approaches it can be a relief to get back into a regular routine, but the key is to make it a nourishing routine and not fall back into our same old “not-so-good-for-us” habits!  The lifestyle choices we make everyday have a huge impact on our health and wellness.  The transitional season of Fall gives us the perfect opportunity to step back and evaluate what we want our daily routine to look like.  I always feel compelled this time of the year to pass along some tidbits of Chinese wisdom that you can incorporate into your life.  Some of it is common sense, but bears repeating.  Some of it sounds quirky, but is none the less interesting and helpful. Hope you enjoy...and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions!


Amy’s Fall Top Ten To-Do List.....


     1.      Stay active...in the outdoors!


    Okay, it’s not winter yet...so get outside, IN NATURE, everyday and get your Qi and Blood moving.  It may just mean a brisk ten minute walk, so don’t get bogged down with the idea that you need to set aside a huge chunk of time.  Also, put down your iphones and ipods when you do this...connect and be present with your surroundings.  We’re lucky enough to live in a gorgeous place...take in that beauty while you unblock the stagnation in your body.


     2.      Temperatures vary widely in the Fall...dress appropriately.


    This one may sound like something your mother would say, but she was right.  The early Fall in New England can mean 80 degree days or 40 degree days, and most of the time that can be in the same week.  Take this into consideration and be prepared for both by layering your clothes or bringing extra layers with you when you’ll be outside.  Especially if you work up a sweat outdoors, you want to keep the back of your neck covered when you are cooling down.  This vulnerable area is called the “Wind Gates” and you do not want it exposed to cold and wind (more on this in my Winter Top Ten List!).


     3.      Get enough sleep.


    We all know this one, but it is important to realize this time of the year we are losing our light.  Nature is telling us to sleep more, so heed the message.  Start thinking about a nighttime ritual to prepare for sleep once the sun starts to set.  Try to eat earlier in the evening, don’t do anything too stimulating (physically or mentally) in the evening, try to avoid very bright lighting in your house after dark, and try to turn off all those electronic devices well in advance of bedtime.  We want to give your body the cue that it is time to settle down.  If you can stick to a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule do it, and know that you may need a little more sleep in general in the Fall and Winter.  This is the time your body heals, grows, and rejuvenates...don’t hinder that process.


     4.      Try a cleanse/detox.

    

    So, we’ve all indulged a bit during the summer...backyard BBQ’s, vacation fare, maybe some refreshing cocktails, or stops at the local ice cream stand.  The Fall (along with the Spring) is a perfect time to consider giving your body a little break to clear out some of the toxins and excesses we’ve accumulated in our systems.  When I say Cleanse/Detox I’m talking about a sensible whole foods based cleanse that fits into your lifestyle.  Not an expensive bottle of pills for your Liver, and not a crazy “fast” or fad diet.  I’m trying one out this Fall...ask me about it and I’ll fill you in on the details.


     5.      Shift your diet.


    After you give your body that well deserved break with a cleanse, remember that as you settle into the Fall our diets should shift just as the seasons do.  It’s best to eat what would be available to us locally grown in New England from season to season (despite having access to all sorts of food from around the globe no matter what time of the year it is).  The Fall in New England represents a bountiful harvest time.  There’s a variety of fruits of vegetables available, but we are starting to phase out those yummy summer veggies that we love to eat raw in salads, and now adding in some of the root veggies and squashes that will be our Winter staples.  As the weather gets cooler, consider more roasted, baked, sauteed versions of our vegetables, instead of salads, and it’s okay to add a bit more animal protein into your diet now.


     6.      Stop all those ice drinks!


    With those sweltering summer days but a sweet memory, do you really need the ice coffee, ice soda, even iced water anymore to cool down?      When the weather’s hot we can indulge in these items (well, I’m not a fan of the coffee and soda, but that’s a different lecture!), but the temperature  of these beverages is not good for your Spleen meridian, which governs digestion in Chinese Medicine.  As the cooler weather prevails try shifting to drinks that are room temperature are or warm.


     7.      Consider kicking that caffeine habit.


   Nobody likes to hear this one.  Coffee/caffeine is what gets many of our body’s into gear in the morning and in the afternoon lull.  In Chinese Medicine we call this “False Qi”, or energy that really isn’t there.  What happens is a long term depletion of your Kidney Meridian energy which acts like your “reserves”.  If you keep dipping into those reserves when you don’t have abundant energy, or Qi, from the foods you eat, and proper rest, you’re setting yourself up for a deep level of fatigue and depletion.  It may not happen now, or even in year, but somewhere down the road it will catch up to you.  Consider weaning yourself off that caffeine and truly listening to your body’s needs to feel vibrant and energetic....restorative rest, adequate exercise, and a nourishing diet.


     8.      Try some “Fall Cleaning”...clear your physical space of clutter.


    Again, Fall and Spring are a perfect time to clear your body’s “clutter”, so why not address some of those piles, closets, and corners in your home that have been bugging you to look at.  Purge some of that old junk, give away what you don’t need to someone who can use it, and recycle what you can.  It’s amazing what a peaceful environment can do for your psyche and well-being.


     9.      While you’re at it...clear your “head space” as well.


    The Fall is associated with the Lung and Large Intestine meridians.  The “emotional” job of these meridians is to process, grieve, mourn, and ultimately learn to let go and move on.  When we have a hard time letting go emotionally it can be caused by a weakness in Lung meridian.  If you find yourself in an emotional “space” where you are having a hard time moving forward, examine what the block might be and be proactive in trying to address it with a technique or practice that speaks to you...meditation, therapy, acupuncture, yoga, etc.


     10.      Remember to stop and breathe deeply...at least once a day.


   So simple and so easy...yet, so often overlooked.  Take a moment everyday (even set the alarm on your calendar if you need to), and stop to take a deep healing breath into your Lungs.  Maybe even do two or three!  Again, this is the season to pay a little more attention to the Lung’s energy and mindful breathing is a simple way to do that.



TIDBITS OF INTEREST