Self care for summertime from an acupuncturist

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by Myles Glover Dip Ac, Dip Tui na

Traditional Chinese medicine is very clear on how we should treat ourselves differently within the different seasons for optimal care. Summer months are related to the fire element, which govern the heart and mind. The fire element is the most yang of the elements and is associated with getting outside (particularly to nature), and outward in our lives. It is a time for sociability, and cultivating friendships, for catching up with old friends, for making our hearts and minds pump through plenty of nutritious blood. A balanced heart is strong and healthy, creates a calm mind, and allows for a restful sleep. When the fire element is out of control, it can lead to mania, depression, heartburn, agitation and insomnia.
The yang organ of the fire element is the small intestine. Its job is to separate the pure from the impure within the body. Externally it is telling us to get rid of what is not necessary in our lives. Time for the literal and figurative declutter.

Here are some tips from an acupuncturist to keep you going through summer
1/ Keep hydrated. It is simple to do, but many people simply do not drink enough water. If you are thirsty, your body is already dehydrated.
2/ Ease off on the coffee and sugar. These are known to raise body temperature.
3/infuse your water with mint leaves or slices of lemon. Both are cooling, and will hydrate you better than plain water if your electrolytes are low.
4/Eat plenty of fruits and salad. Water melon is particularly good, as it hydrates at a cellular level.
5/ Avoid ice as it can cause digestive problems due to the shock to the stomach.
6/ Be careful with alcohol intake, especially in the sunshine. If you are already dehydrated, alcohol will compound the problem
7/ Keep the back of your neck covered. Acupuncturists are obsessed with protecting the neck in summer or winter, as this area is where disease can penetrate the body.
8/Get up earlier, go to bed later, but have a short rest around the hottest part of the day.
9/If you have hay fever, keep your eyes covered with sunglasses as much as possible, and make sure when you wash your hair, the water doesn’t run over your face. Hair holds lots of pollen, and you don’t want it running in your eyes. Acupuncture is good for helping with hay fever.
10/ It is supposed to be a happy and expansive time of year, so smile a lot
11/Eat more moderately. You don’t need as many calories at this time of year as you are not having to heat yourself.
12/ Run your wrists under a cold tap for two minutes if overheating. This passes cooled blood around your body to cool you down.
13/ Wear appropriate sunscreen, but remember to scrub it off well in the evening, so it doesn’t clog your pores
14/ Be sensible with physical exertion, work in your garden in the evening rather than midday for example.
15/ Do more yoga, it helps you learn to manage heat better.

Have a happy summer

Myles

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