Autumn is the Metal time of year according to the wisdom of Five Elements teachings, Autumn correlates to the Lungs and Large intestine which govern the skin (the third lung). It’s to no surprise that the skin becomes drier and skin and lung conditions can worsted in autumn. We can support the Metal element by living in harmony with the season with 6 simple considerations.
Breathe in the pure and let go of the waste, just like the Lungs and Large Intestine. Nature is instructing us to let go in this beautiful season where a final display of coloured leaves leaves the canvas bare. Let go as the trees let go of their leaves, only retaining the key nutrients for the following year in a process of refinement, it’s a time to look inward in time to refine ourselves for the new year ahead.
Clear out those cupboards, donate, let go of all that no longer serves you, clothes, clutter, debris, patterns of behaviour that do not serve you, let go of hurt, resentment. Forget the spring clean, it’s all about the autumn clean, time to wake up your inner Mary Kondo.
2. Wear a scarf
Chinese medicine teaches of pathogens like cold, flu and seasonal allergies being carried via wind into the back of the neck which is seen as being particularly vulnerable. Protect the lungs from cold and dryness by wearing a scarf. This is even more important on a windy day, when feeling tired or after Gua Sha or cupping. As an acupuncturist you will find my wearing a scarf in nearly all seasons for this exact reason. Listen to your grandma/ acupuncturist and wear a scarf 🧣
3. Reduce Cold, raw and mucous forming foods.
Eat seasonally, naturally throughout the history of humanity, we would have mostly consumed local seasonal foods. Oranges would not be available ordinarily in British autumn time. Oranges grow in warm climates, they cool down the inhabitants, we do not need cooling down at this time of year. Supermarkets may sell oranges in December, however, organic, seasonal and locally grown really is how nature intended us to eat. Apples and pears moisten the lungs in Chinese medicine, a food thats functionality is required at the time of year they are to be picked (October) demonstrates that nature really does have our back!
4. Eat warming foods
It is the season of harvest where we reap all that was planted in the spring. Warm foods enrich our yin and support our digestion by reducing strain on stomach and spleen in the process of transformation and transportation of food substances. Longer cooking times are recommend as well as foods cooked in moisture are ideal in autumn such as needed for porridge, congee, casseroles and stews which in turn nourish yin and combat dryness. Steaming foods is a great way to retain moisture in dry Autumn and slow cookers make an ideal kitchen companion for the season. Almonds and Brazil nuts are also beneficial to the lungs, add them to porridge with honey when suffering from a cough. Counteract autumns dryness with warm Fluids, try warm teas with meals such as Jasmin tea.
Prioritise good quality sleep, Get to sleep on time, lack of sleep can compromise our immune response and leave the door open for seasonal pathogens coughs and colds. Cytokines, inflammatory markers and hormones are impacted by a lack of sleep. Practice good sleep hygiene, put down the blue light devices like mobile phones hours before you go to bed. We should conserve our energies for the winter ahead, naturally our ancestors would have slept more in the autumn and winter due to the shorter days and longer darker nights. This is a time to focus inward, slow down and nurture ourselves.
Such a natural thing to do, many of us take it for granted, and some of us do it incorrectly. The way we breathe can effect our immune system, so many of us shallow breathe and sometimes this can lead to or contribute to hyperventilation and panic attacks. When the quality of breathing goes down, stress on the body increases which in turn negatively impacts the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) which can lead to systemic inflammation. Many practices such as yoga, Meditation and tai chi focus heavily on the breath. Diaphragmatic breathing can be such a a transformative practice, can be so simple and have such a profound effect. Spend time in nature focusing on the breath, breathe in the autumn crisp air.
I love autumn, long walks, warm boots, cosy nights by the log fire, chunky knit everything, spiced pumpkin soup, Diwali lights, warm drinks, this is also the time of year I feel as if I get my cat back; we pretend it’s genuine but we both know it’s warmth of my lap he craves.
What are your favourite things about autumn?