We tend to mark the passage of time with the changes of the seasons; seemingly endless when we’re young, passing quickly as we age. From winter to spring, from spring to summer, we pause and take note first externally: more obvious for those of us who live with clear changes of the seasons, with melting snow making room for expanses of green. Even for those of us who live in milder climates, we still notice the rise of the temperature, the new foliage and vegetation, the lengthening of the days.
We may also associate these seasonal changes with actions and activity level, such as slowing down, “hibernating” or staying close to home, drawing inward during the colder and shorter days of winter, and shedding the unnecessary “extras” during Spring Cleaning, while itching to stretch and expand outward.
However, in this fast-paced, internet driven world, in which we spend more time “on line” than out-doors, and can control lighting, temperature, and even the foods we buy and eat, regardless of the seasons, we may become less in tune with the natural rhythms of the seasons as they transition.
I suggest that if we are mindful of the changing seasons, and incorporate these shifts, both obvious and more subtle, then we may experience being more in balance and at ease, both with our surroundings and with ourselves.
At Vista Hill SmartCare, we encourage our patients and community partners to embrace a diet of “real” foods: foods that are as free from additives as possible, minimally processed, locally grown and organic if available, and “in season”! Now that it is summer, you may not want to spend much time cooking, and you may naturally crave those foods that are most available this time of year, including seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables. This will likely be the opposite of what you crave in the colder, darker months of winter, when soups, stews and other warm comfort foods are your priorities.
This is the basis of Ayurveda (Ayu = life, Veda = knowledge), which also teaches us that summer is the Pitta season (fire and water), and emphasizes the importance of eating whole, seasonal and fresh foods.
As SmartCare is an integrated behavioral health care program, we also encourage and promote physical activity, particularly those types of activities that connect us with nature. Summer, with longer days and perhaps a bit of freedom from school and/or work, is a perfect time to also incorporate a mindful practice with your outdoor activities, such as gardening, walking/hiking, swimming, (and consider “grounding” , or going bare-foot for added benefit!). Even your yoga practice can be adjusted for the summer months, to a more fluid and cool practice.
As we welcome these next summer months, I suggest we pause to mindfully embrace our favorite warm weather rituals, whether foods, events, practices, or other, and reap the healthful benefits of all!
Pamela Sachs, LCSW