What does the heart and emotion of Joy have to do with summer… And does it explain how you are feeling anxious?
Summer according to Chinese medicine: In Summer, we can feel huge amounts of joy, excitement, and have loads of fun, right? That is true, most of the time. But perhaps the less talked about emotions of the season are feelings of worry, overthinking, and also anxiety. Often there are big ‘to do’ lists and lots of social events on the calendar which can leave you feeling depleted because there isn’t enough downtime and good rest. For many, the high energy and social nature of the festive season is all about connection. For others, it can emphasise disconnection which can have you feeling a little low, flat or sad.
The season of Summer is ruled by the energy of the heart. When the heart is in balance it will foster feelings of joy and connection, however when out of balance it can foster feelings of worry, anxiety and social disconnection. In short, summer can be a time of heightened emotions that can be both positive and negative. Let us explain this a bit further…
In Chinese medicine, Summer is the season that correlates to the element of fire and the organ of the heart. The heart has a spectrum of emotions according to its level of energy – for example, excessive heart energy or fire, will lead to feelings of excessive joy, excitement and even mania. If heart energy is weak, worn out or suffering from deficient fire (either burning too brightly or burning the candle at both ends) we can feel quite the opposite, experiencing feelings of sadness or anxiety, flat mood and low energy levels.
According to the Five Element theory in Chinese medicine, everything in the natural world is made of Five Elements – fire, earth, water, metal and wood. In the body, these elements correlate to organ pairs. For example, earth relates to the spleen and stomach. All of these have their own energy pathways, called meridians that also relate to emotions and seasons. Summer relates to fire, the heart and pericardium, and joy. If you’re experiencing a fire or heart imbalance, you’re likely to experience excessive joy (such as feeling over-excited, restless or having difficulty sleeping), insufficient joy (including fatigue, feeling flat or lacking motivation), or you may even switch between the two. As you can imagine, anxiety is often tied into the picture, resulting in feelings that are more pronounced during the summertime.
How do we keep the heart in balance?
One way to help is by getting enough sleep. This means reducing, and or avoiding stimulants and alcohol. However, this can be tricky in Summer when our social schedules can be full, often with later nights and a few drinks. If you find you have skipped a few hours of rest or burnt the candle a little, you can try rebalancing your heart and body through these top tips:
- Add in some relaxation by making time to get a massage, acupuncture, spend an afternoon reading a book, or even have an afternoon nap. Also Simply smiling helps balance your heart’s energy.:)
- Try this easy breathing exercise:
- With one hand over your belly button and the other on your heart, inhale and focus on breathing deeply into the abdomen.
- As you exhale, rub the centre of your chest (the point midway between the nipples) in a slow circular motion.
- Continue to breathe slowly and deeply and add in Grin asana (A big grin).
- Repeat for at least 10 rounds of breathing. You should feel more grounded, as well as lighter and more relaxed.
3. Another great way to regulate the mind and body, and also to simply wind down, is to walk in nature. Try to go either first thing in the morning, or in the evening when it’s a little quieter. If you can, play a game with yourself. The game is to notice every tree, or pebble on the beach. Really take notice and observe your surroundings. This game helps to increase your awareness and presence and can often foster a sense of gratitude that helps the heart shine.
4. Some foods can also help regulate and support the heart. Red foods are traditionally prescribed to help the heart. In Summer, the body often requires foods that are more cooling and hydrating. Eating berries and watermelon, tomatoes, and salads containing bitter greens (broccoli and kale) can help to cool and hydrate the body and calm the mind.
Holiday heart balance tips
- Aim to spend time with people who light you up.
2. Every day prioritise peace and joy. Sometimes holidays are all fun and family, but the work surrounding it can also be stressful. Take breaks every day and do something for yourself that brings you peace and joy, even if that is a nap. This brings us to the next point…
3. Use holidays to rest! Really pay attention to your body and rest when you need it.
4. Make your drinks fun, even if you are not drinking alcohol. Think about including fruit punch or sparkling water with lemon or lime. Or if you feel like something different, try adding in some strawberry, cucumber or orange slices.
5. If you really want to enjoy the season with alcohol, stick to just 1-2 glasses and have water between drinks.
6. Eat the good stuff first; munch out on salads and veggies, before you enjoy the Christmas pudding and other richer delights. Eating food that is aligned with the Summer season will make you feel terrific. Try the recipe below, you’ll love it!
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