A Time of Transition
As we ease into autumn after the busyness of summer, we may find ourselves breathing a sigh of relief as we adjust to the slower pace of the season. There is a tendency to turn inward with a spirit of reflection. Personally, it is one of my favorite times of the year. The changing of the leaves, a crispness to the air, and hot mugs of tea are highlights of the season.
Be this as it may, it is also a time of increased illness, feelings of grief, and a compromised respiratory system. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is the season of sorrow as the bright heat of summer fades away and we become more reflective with the cooler temperatures and plants dying back. It is also considered the season of the lungs. Because of this, it is important to give them a bit more care during this transitional time. My favorite methods for creating balance during autumn and strengthening yourself against contagious illness and fortifying your lungs are found below!
While we may not think we need a reminder for this very basic (and automatic) function, many of us don’t breathe properly — which can impact your health, nervous system, and even the way you sleep. Typically, we chest breathe with shallow breaths. This is a problem if you would like to keep stress and anxiety at manageable levels and maintain a healthy immune system. Instead, we need to intentionally focus on slow belly breathing. A good ratio is five deep, belly breaths in and eight full exhales. It’s helpful to do about five rounds of this style of breathing first thing in the morning and several sessions throughout the day. It will calm your nervous system, clarify your thinking, and boost immunity by reducing stress.
Working with the natural ebb and flow of autumn, this is the ideal season to address emotions such as sorrow, depression, and grief as these are associated with the metal element and the lungs, according to TCM. See these resources for ways to navigate any unresolved grief and sorrow that may arise during this time. Feeling the heaviness of seasonal depression beginning to take hold? My post, “Why We Need Nature This Winter” discusses how getting into nature can help.
Autumn is also an outstanding time to lay the groundwork for putting to rest those areas of our lives that are not beneficial to your emotional health. This could include a non-stop work schedule, taking on social engagements that drain us, or even food choices that create emotional instability — refined sugar, trans fats, and processed foods, I’m looking at you! Instead, we can focus on creating a supportive rhythm to our day that includes self-care, gratitude, and prioritizing aspects in our lives that help us to truly thrive.
Autumn is a wonderful time to enjoy all the produce that is now seasonally available. Apples, pears, plums, blueberries and blackberries, pomegranates, pumpkins and squash, root vegetables — you get the idea! Focusing on vitamin C rich foods to strengthen the immune system is helpful as well — one of my favorites is aronia berry. Warming foods and spices are also helpful. This is a terrific time to have a pot of simmering soup on the stove and enjoy mugs of steaming tea. Emphasize warming and pungent foods in your cooking, such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper, basil, onions, garlic, chillies, peppers, and scallions. These edibles will help to clear accumulated mucus in the respiratory system, warm the kidneys, and strengthen the liver and circulatory system/heart.
Clearing the Clutter
Since cooler temperatures typically means we will be spending more time indoors, it is important to create a space that is serene, warm, and welcoming. And this involves clearing out clutter — including clothing and any objects that you don’t absolutely love. Usually we associate springtime with this activity, but I have found that autumn is a wonderful time to order our space as it prepares me for the winter ahead. You certainly don’t want to spend the upcoming days in a home that isn’t comfortable and filled with clutter that muddles your thinking or creates stress. Need some inspiration? Have a look at my post, “Nature, Awe, and Clearing Clutter. Why we need all three for a calm and happy mind.”
Herbal Support: Essential Winter Defense Bundle
“This is THE ONE! Get this to keep you and yours healthy! We use these (plus the Eastern Blend) and have stayed healthy this winter. We coat the inside of our nose with the salve, spray the Usnea in our throat, and take Elderberry and now the Eastern Blend every day.
When my son got sick (he wasn’t taking these daily like we are) we gave him the elderberry and Eastern Blend 4 times a day plus the others and he got healthy fast and his chest never got too bad using the bronchial blend.
The yarrow kept his fever down and the Bronchial Blend made his chest clear along with the Yerba Santa. I usually don’t write reviews but we LOVE these as they work.
These should be in everyone’s medicine cabinet!” –Kelly B.
With the transition into autumn, there is not better time than now to fortify your lungs and immune system with medicinal herbs. Here are several of my favorites to do just that!
My Essential Winter Defense Bundle contains a powerful collection of herbal medicines that includes our popular All-Purpose (First-Aid) Salve, Bronchial Blend, Elderberry, Yarrow, and Yerba Santa tinctures, plus an antiviral/antibacterial Usnea Throat Spray.
Usnea and the All-Purpose Salve help to prevent catching the latest bug making the rounds, while Elderberry boosts immune function and shortens the duration of illness.
Our Bronchial Blend contains lungwort lichen and mullein to help clear the lungs of congestion. Yarrow is antibacterial and reduces fevers, and Yerba Santa is effective for alleviating mucus build-up.
If you would like to learn more about these powerful remedies, visit the apothecary today!