Maintain A Healthy Flame

Stay Healthy in the Summer Months

Because the summer is the apex of yang energy (therefore, hot!) the fire element can easily get out of whack, especially if you already have a constitutional imbalance. Here are some suggestions on how to stay balanced during this season of warmth and joy.

1. Sleep less. What??! Yep, I said sleep less! In general, its okay to get less sleep in the summer. People (often) have more energy in the summer months, and naturally need less sleep than they do in the winter months. However, though you may sleep less hours at night, you may find yourself craving a cat nap by mid-afternoon. So…. Woman relaxing in hammock

2. Hacer una siesta. People who have imbalance in the fire element may have a drop in energy around midday. If you experience imbalance in the heart, the best time to meditate or nap is from 11 am to 1pm, when the qi moves through the heart (according to the Chinese meridian clock).

3. Eat water. Enjoy cooling, yin-nourishing foods. Foods with cool or cold properties can clear heat, reduce toxins, and generate body fluids. The yin foods include fruits and vegetables with high water content – cucumber, watermelon, melon, asparagus, tomatoes, peach, pineapple, berries, lemon, and lime. Coconut water is especially appropriate for the hot months of summer. Avocado and walnuts are also great yin-nourishing foods.

4. Love a farmer. Summer is a time for luxurious growth, especially in the garden, so eat whats in season! Instead of giving you a long list of seasonal produce check out Maines incredible farmers markets and let your body guide you. See www.mainefarmersmarkets.org for more information. Try to fill your plate with a wide variety of colors the more the better!

5. Keep it crunchy. When cooking/sauting, use less oil and more water. Steam vegetables for less time in order to keep some crunch.

6. Avoid sausage hands. Though iced drinks and ice cream are two favorites of summer, enjoy these things with moderation. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, their inherent coldness tends to contract,” and the act of contraction holds in sweat and heat. Room temperature liquids are best. If youre feeling puffy and you’re not sweating (though the temperature is 85 by 10am), trying adding some hot spice* to your food and sip some hot peppermint tea*. This may seem counter-intuitive during the summer months, but its an effective way to induce sweating. Also, check out this recipe for kicharee, a great way to clear summer heat and drain damp’ according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. And it’s a wicked tasty snack. BONUS!

*If you have excess heat (which could show up as reflux, high blood pressure, a subjective sense of feeling overly warm all the time, red eyes and face), avoid the recommendations above. Instead, follow the advice under #3 and #7, and exercise once it’s cooled down outside.

Ju Hua: dried Chrysanthemum flowers
Ju Hua: dried Chrysanthemum flowers

*Peppermint can worsen acid reflux in some cases, especially if it’s due to relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

7. Be prepared for the heat. On especially hot days, make sun tea with chrysanthemum flower, mint, or chamomile. Apples, watermelon, lemon and lime are also effective for cooling summer heat. Also, make sure you’ve got your AC machine switched on and working. You won’t regret it. However, if you are lacking a functioning AC machine in your home, you might want to check out a site like https://www.airnowhvac.com/air-conditioning/ to find out how you can get one.

8. Be a smart sweaty pig. Dont overhydrate with water, especially if youre sweating a lot. Alternatively look into turning your air conditioning on to help cool you down quicker, and if its broken down or needs a slight repair then you’re better off looking into getting an AC REPAIR. This still isn’t always the best option, as you also need sweat to cool you down. So on labor-intensive days, or especially hot days, remember that you need electrolytes to properly hydrate. For moderate, recreational activity, coconut water is perfect, but if you are engaging in more extreme exercise be sure to snack in small amounts, and often. Possible options include salty sourdough pretzels, a banana, or a handful of trail mix.

9. Vocalize. Because the heart is the organ associated with speech (and imbalances are associated with frantic/confused speech) try meditating with focused, self-generated sound to calm the heart. For many people, prayer, meditation, chanting, and affirmations are preferred methods for calming the spirit.

10. Let me poke you. Get some acupuncture. Yintang (located at the third eye) is an especially effective point for the type of imbalance(s) that tend to flare in the summer months. When needled, its a quick-acting chill pill for a racing mind. It can also enhance concentration, promote sleep, and help alleviate sinus congestion. The 5 Needle Protocol in the ear (also referred to as 5NP) is also an incredibly awesome way to settle an agitated spirit.