Staying energised and in balance over the festive season
While a wellness-focused lifestyle has never been more popular, it's not exactly a new fad. In fact, living a balanced lifestyle has been a core focus of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for centuries!
This ancient system of medicine teaches that the body, mind and spirit are all intimately connected, and that if you want to keep them healthy and in harmony, there are four lifestyle pillars that you'll want to focus on: diet, exercise, relaxation and emotional balance.
Here's how to make them work for you this holiday season.
What you eat influences your energy and wellbeing
In TCM, it's traditionally believed that the food and drink we consume are used to produce Qi, the life force energy that fuels all physical and mental activity.
Consuming a healthy, nutritious diet will therefore contribute to an abundance of vibrant energy and strong defences against illnesses like common colds, while over-indulging in unhealthy food and drink may have the reverse effect and could even contribute to ill-health.
There's lots of deliciousness on offer at this time of year, but avoid overeating, which, according to Chinese medicine, can prevent the digestive system from working properly, and prevent your Qi from functioning at its best.
In addition, certain foods are regarded as having therapeutic properties in TCM. For example, if you're feeling tired, you might like to add some goji berries to your morning smoothie or to munch on them as an afternoon snack because in TCM they're traditionally believed to support the health of the kidneys and relieve fatigue when kidney yang is deficient in TCM - that's why you'll also find them in Fusion Kidney Tonic.
Red, the colour of summer
Goji berries are red, which is the colour of summer in TCM. Other red foods that are great to include in your diet at this time of year include tomatoes, cherries, and strawberries. Also consider watermelon, which is traditionally considered both cooling and detoxifying in TCM.
Eat lightly, stay cool
During summer, Chinese medicine teaches that it's best to choose foods that are light and cooling (rather than heavier, more warming foods, which are better suited to wintertime), so focus your menu on salads, leafy greens, and foods that are cooked quickly (like steamed vegetables and lightly barbecued fish).
Go lightly on the alcohol too
Even though it's the party season, try to keep your alcohol intake light or moderate at best if you want to maintain your energy and vitality.
In TCM, alcohol is regarded as generating both heat and dampness, and when consumed in excess can make the flow of Qi sluggish and lead to heat in the liver.
Instead, make sure to drink enough water, which will help offset losses due to perspiration in the summer weather and keep your internal fluids in good shape.
Move regularly - ideally outdoors
We all know that exercise is important for its many health benefits, including helping you to keep your weight down and maintain your heart health.
In TCM, it's also understood that exercise is important because it helps keep Qi moving around the body constantly. On the flip side, if you're too sedentary, the flow of Qi can become stagnant, and you can expect your energy levels to drop too.
Since fresh air is one of the ingredients your body uses to produce Qi, try to exercise outdoors when you can, and opt for forms of exercise that encourage you to breathe deeply and rhythmically.
Prioritise rest and relaxation
Chinese medicine has long recognised that overwork has a negative effect on both energy levels and overall health and wellbeing, so if you're feeling the urge to take things easy, listen to your body and treat yourself to some downtime.
Whether it's enjoying a lazy afternoon at the beach, packing the kids off for a sleepover at a mate's or saying, 'Yes, please' when someone offers to bring a plate to your party, giving yourself some breathing space will always be worthwhile.
Strive for mental and emotional balance
And finally, be aware that extremes of emotion are believed to have disruptive effects on Qi, especially when they come on suddenly or are allowed to persist for too long.
That means that if your goal is to sail through the festive season in good shape, you'll want to keep an eye out for feelings like anger, worry, fear, over-thinking and sadness, and to take steps to address them if they do come up.
If you're finding things tough over the holiday period, please do prioritise giving yourself some mental space, and accessing some professional support if you need it.
Always read the label and follow the directions for use.