We’re just a short 7 days away from the first day of Fall (for 2017), so I thought it would be fun to talk a little bit about the seasons and how we can use their different energies to our advantage when healing autoimmunity.
Fall has always been my favorite season because it just feels like my soul is gonna burst from me with excitement and enthusiasm (as opposed to Summer, where I’m mainly just irritable and sweaty for 3-4 months). In fact, my fiance always jokes that I experience “Fall frisk” because I’m so energetic this time of year.
I’ve always been intrigued by how my mood (and thus, autoimmune conditions) are affected by the various seasons, so I started doing a little digging. Turns out, each season has its own energy and purpose, and they’re designed in a cyclical nature that’s beneficial for our growth and development.
Here’s my interpretation of how things break down:
- Spring is for youth, freshness, rejuvenation, awakening, and expansion. This makes sense, as we’ve just come off of the winter months and the world is starting to come back to life. Life is blooming all around us, and it’s truly a time for celebration and jubilee.
- Summer is for fun, playfulness, rest, vacation, and – most uncomfortably – being exposed, as the longer days hide our shadows and shine light on the things we often try to hide.
- Fall is a time of harvest, busyness, abundance, gathering, and plenty. It’s traditionally the season that both humans and animals alike busy themselves with preparations for winter (“winter is coming!”), and celebrate bountiful harvests after the summer farming season has ended.
- Winter is usually people’s least favorite season, but it’s so important. Winter is a time to “cool down” from the year, go indoors and inside ourselves for reflection, regroup and re-prioritize for the year to come, and give thanks for our many blessings. This period of hibernation is essential to our growth and development!
Pretty cool, huh? I KNOW! 🙂
So, what’s this have to do with autoimmune disease and healing? Well, most ancient healing traditions and wisdom follow the idea that we can heal our bodies and create lasting health by being aligned with Mother Nature. After all, MoNa (we’re on a really personal nickname-basis) never makes mistakes, she’s reliable, and she’s the longest living out of us all. So, following her lead is like paying attention to the wisdom a 115-year-old has to give.
An example of this is the recommendation to eat along with the seasons, so that we can tune in to our natural environment.
This means eating fresh food that’s in season at your local grocer or farmer’s market, and following general principles like:
- Fresh, clean foods like sprouts, wild-caught salmon and asparagus in the Spring
- Cooling foods like gazpacho, fruits and #aipicecream in the Summer
- Grounding foods like squash and apples in the Fall
- Warm, filling foods like stews in the Winter
I also think it means conducting our lives in accordance to the previously explored energies of each season, too. I think that if we not only EAT in accordance to each season, but LIVE in accordance to each season, then our bodies will respond positively, as we’ll be going with the flow, as opposed to trying to swim against the current (our bodies “fight” enough against ourselves already!).
Here’s some suggestions on how we can live in alignment with each season and help settle our bodies into the natural rhythm of life, ‘mon.
I find Spring to be a great time to focus on spirituality. It’s naturally a time of awakening and awareness, so use it to your advantage! Fill your life to the brim with love and enthusiasm for things you love, and don’t be afraid to dance in the spring showers once in awhile.
Activities to take advantage of the season: meditate, cook with bright / fresh foods, dance, listen to peaceful or ambient music, play with baby animals, allow your dreams and passions to undergo a “re-birth” (as in, actually allow yourself to entertain the idea of having and/or developing your dreams and passions), and do things that make you feel alive and youthful.
Give yourself permission to… DREAM
My least favorite season, I have come a long way with learning to appreciate the benefits and nuances of summertime. I’ve learned that Summer is for fun, freedom, friends, traveling, rest, and exploration (self-exploration and exploring the world!). It’s also a time of learning to relax and take a break from all the pressures and obligations of the world – just like we got to do during summer breaks from school as kids.
Activities to take advantage of the season: take afternoon naps, schedule an adult playdate, go on an adventure (even if it’s just in your hometown), watch a movie and stay up later than usual, have a picnic with a friend or loved one, read a good book, explore inside and outside yourself and don’t be afraid to let yourself be a little more “exposed” than usual under the summer sun.
Give yourself permission to… HAVE FUN, PLAY & RELAX
Falllllll, yes! Such a lively time of year, Fall is perfect for learning new things (hello, back-to-school season), being busy and catching up with lots of things after taking 1-3 months off from most adult obligations, enjoying fall harvests, fairs and festivals, and gathering with friends for pot-lucks and of course, Thanksgiving. It’s a descent into the reflective state of Winter, so Fall is all about grounding ourselves and putting down some roots to last us through the winter months. So enjoy this last burst of energy and allow your heart (and belly) to be full!
Activities to take advantage of the season: attend festivals and weekend activities, cook with root vegetables, spend extra time with friends and family, enjoy the last farmer’s markets of the season, choose something new to learn, help yourself to an extra serving, visit a pumpkin patch or take a hayride.
Give yourself permission to… BUSTLE & INDULGE
Ah, Winter – the first part of which is filled with joy and harking angels; the second half which is filled with freezing your ass off while trying to recall your summer vacation and wondering if you’ll ever feel true bodily warmth again. Alas, both parts are necessary! The holiday season allows us to give thanks for all the great things in our lives and give to the people we love. It also gives us a chance to unwind after the busy Fall season as we spend the holidays with our families and plan for the new year.
The second (less festive) part of Winter is valuable, too, though — it’s the part that forces us to stay inside, slow down, reflect, and reassess our priorities and goals for the upcoming year. I always feel like I learn a lot about myself during the winter, and I especially enjoy the brooding feeling that comes over my writer-introverted self. I take all of the reflection that comes with the season and turn it into a clarity that propels me into the Spring season, where I can get to work on bringing my newfound ideas to life (remember, Spring is all about birth) and celebrating myself and those around me.
Activities to take advantage of the season: read books, drink and eat hot / warming foods, buy yourself something nice as a reward for another year well spent, celebrate with family and friends, buy a journal and reflect upon your successes and accomplishments the past year, set goals and intentions for the next year, let go of what no longer serves you; think, brood, assess.
Give yourself permission to: CELEBRATE, REFLECT & BE INTROSPECTIVE
I guarantee that if you at least take the time to become more aware of the nuances of each season and try to follow along with their cyclical energy, you will feel more in-sync with the world around you. This can lead to lasting change, positive growth and self-development, and profound and unexpected healing.
What thoughts do you have about this topic? Have you played around with eating and/or living in accordance to the seasons?