Change in the Weather

We may have entered Autumn in late September, but it’s just now beginning to feel like it with blustery afternoons, cool nights and rain.  And so, this week, I threw another blanket on my bed, pulled out my sunshine lamps and grow lights, and moved my potted plants to a sunny corner under an eaves up against my house.  I’m a firm believer that as the environment around us changes, we must change the environment around us.

Also this week, I swapped out t-shirts for sweatshirts in my closet, ground the dried cayenne peppers I harvested over the summer, and baked a turkey.  But those changes were to help adjust my insides.  It’s a big part of my Autumn ritual because I, like many people, often struggle with the big swings in temperature, light and precipitation that takes place around the Equinoxes.

Here is just a sample of things that can cause people to feel unwell in Autumn:

  • The end of Daylight Savings Time (Nov 7, 2021) — though this is often cited as being responsible for an increase in everything from car accidents to heart attacks to medical errors, scientists found the impact of DST to your health may be related to whether you’re an early or late riser.
  • Quickly dwindling sunlight — between September 21 (the equinox) and November 1, we’ll have lost 92 minutes of sunlight.  By the first day of Winter (December 21), we’ll have lost 170 minutes of sunlight.
  • An increase in wind — Autumn is considered a “blustery” season.  This can cause physical dis-ease through flying projectiles and by drying out skin.  Wind has also been associated with anxiety and nervousness.  

The good news is that just as I can add a blanket and swap out t-shirts for sweatshirts to adjust to the cold, there are ways to adjust to these issues as well.

  • Begin adjusting your sleep patterns now to prepare for an end of Dayton Savings Time.  Just a 10 minute adjustment each day until Nov 7 can minimize the effects of the big swing in schedule.
  • To avoid physical and mental health issues related to dwindling sunlight, use sunlight lamps or grow lights (preferably first thing in the morning, and positioned above your head) to help boost your energy.  Other tips include increasing exercise, decreasing caffeine, visiting a sauna, being outside in nature, socializing, and taking Vitamin D supplements.
  • To adjust to increased wind, hydrate your skin with an organic oil or lotion after getting out of the shower, hydrate your body with warm herbal tea, stay inside during high winds, wear layers including a wind breaker if you’ll be out in the wind, play upbeat music, and socialize. 

Autumn Metal Element Qigong is another way to help adjust to the changing weather.  Here are a few practices you can do this week and all of Autumn:

  • Meridian massage — warm your palms by rubbing them vigorously together.  Cup your warmed palms over your eyes for a few moments, then rub them up over the top of your head, down behind your ears, around to the front of your throat.  Continue down your breastbone to the bottom of your rib cage, separating hands to each side, around your back to your kidneys.  Gently rub your kidneys for a moment, then continue wiping your palms down the backs of your straight legs, around your feet and toes and up the inside of your legs to where your legs connect to your hips.  Bring your hands together over your belly button and rub in a clockwise circle.  Repeat as often as you like.  This massage is good for soothing anxiety, calming nervous energy, and relaxing tense muscles.
  • Vagal breathing —  sit or lay down and begin by slowing and deepening your breath.  Sink your breath into your abdomen — your lower dantien.  Once you have established a deep calm breath, begin counting your inhale to 4.  Gently hold your breath in for a count of 2, and exhale to a count of 10.  Repeat as long as comfortable.  This breathing pattern calms the nervous system, clearing emotional and mental stress, including frustration, irritation, upset, and worry.  
  • Plié flow — with feet wider than shoulders and toes turned out slightly, inhale and bend your knees gently (keeping them behind your toes) while floating arms up to shoulder height on each side, squeezing shoulder blades together, palms pressed away from the body.  On the exhale, arms float down to your sides as you straighten your legs.  Continue with slow deep breathing, deepening your plié a little each time if you can (NO PAIN EVER!).  This flow will warm you from the inside and stretch your Lung and Large Intestine meridians in your arms freeing any old or stagnant qi.