In Traditional Chinese Medicine, each season is associated with one of the elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Perhaps unsurprisingly, summertime is associated with the element fire. Fire represents maximum activity. In nature, everything is at its peak growth during the summer, so TCM sees our energy as its most active and exuberant. Summer is the time of year with the most yang energy, which is all about excitement and assertiveness.
Summertime is also associated with the heart and small intestine, according to TCM. When the fire element is in balance, the heart is effectively circulating blood and ensuring the beginning of the digestive process in the small intestine is working. From an emotional standpoint, a balanced fire element looks like confident self expression, gentle sensitivity and a strong heart and mind connection.
TCM suggests that summer is the time when our fire and yang energies are most likely to be in balance, because of what is happening in nature. However, it’s also really easy to get overextended, quite literally overheated and energetically burn out by September. Summer can be a very busy season, full of outdoor adventures, vacations and social commitments on top of our regular obligations.
Here are four tips to maintain balance in your fire element this summer.
Adjust your sleep schedule. TCM suggests realigning your sleep schedule as the season changes will help you have the most energy throughout your day. In the summer, take advantage of the long days by getting up early, going to sleep later and taking a rest in the middle, hottest part of the day.
Be conscious of your priorities. At the beginning of summer, write down your four top priorities for this summer, so you can come back to them all season long as you find yourself pulled in many directions. These might be reading, spending time with family, swimming and cooking. Or something totally different. Whatever they are for you, mindfully choosing four priorities is a great way to stay grounded through all the activity.
Balance your exercise with breath. Summer is the highest energy, highest movement time of year, including in terms of moving your body. TCM suggests getting a lot of exercise during the summertime. Along with running, biking, swimming, hiking or whatever your summer activity of choice is, incorporate some slower, more mindful movement to stay strong and healthy. Practicing yin or restorative yoga or choosing to meditate in stillness outside can be great for staying in tune with your bodies needs and cultivating mindfulness in all your activities.
Stay hydrated. The opposing element to fire is water, and addressing its implications is an important part of staying balanced during summer. Especially if you live somewhere very hot in the summer, it is very important to drink plenty of water each day. Whether the climate is humid or dry, drinking enough water is very important. Staying hydrated helps your energy levels and assists in digestion. TCM also recommends watermelon juice for cooling the body and cleansing the system.