Depression, an Autumn ailment?

In Traditional Chinese Medecine, Autumn is the season of the metal element. Nature shows us that it is a time of letting go of what doesn’t serve us, like the trees shed their leaves, to the ground and gathering their strength back to their core. This is what metal represents, strong core and constitution to defend ourselves against harsh winter conditions, it also represent our core issues and existential questioning. What happens if we don’t let go? If we hold onto those things, people, relationships that bring us down? The organs associated to autumn are the lungs (yin organ) and our large intestines (yang organ), both responsible for processing and expelling, co2 for the former and toxins or undigested waste for the latter. It’s an important time to let go of old negativity, old patterns, old beliefs, the “could have beens”. The “negative” emotion of the lungs is grief, sadness and depression, it is interesting that more anxious symptoms seem to arise this season, right?

A way to support our body and mind and ensure they do not suffer from the change of season is to adapt to these changes, not only our diet but also our lifestyle, slowing down the rhythm, spending time in nature and by doing our homework by following the processes she teaches us.

With Autumn comes shorter days, less light, cooler temperatures and changing weather conditions from cold, wind and humid. Whilst we need to spend time outdoors it is extremely important to protect our most vulnerable body parts from catching cold (ankles, lower back, neck). As we tend to suffer from lack of vitamin D and SAD disorders, eating the right foods can help compensate this lack, such as mushrooms (nature gives us a nice variety of them at this time of year, coincidence?), eggs, oily fish. But also the hero of the season, from the cucurbitaceous family: the pumpkin. Energetically warming, it is said to “enter” our lungs and digestive organs and activates Qi (pronounce Chi), promoting movement and processing, dispersing damp and resolving phlegm. The dominant flavour of the season is pungent, spicy, like garlic, chilli, cabbage and foods that have expelling and expectorant properties.

So, maybe Autumn is not the season that coincides with the exacerbation of your mental health condition but if it is, look into the above, adjust your diet, journal, go for walks amongst the trees and observe which patterns you can let go of.

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