The last days of summer can feel so bittersweet, even more so this year when the UK has seen one of the warmest, sunniest summers for decades! Whether you loved or loathed the heat wave, saying goodbye to the long, halcyon days of summer can often make us feel a little glum. September and the onset of autumn can challenge us with a shift in pace that we don’t always feel ready for. Perhaps it would make us feel better to press the pause button and let the warmth and abundance of summer linger a little longer?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) allows us some welcome reprieve here, outlining a slower transition from summer through to autumn. The Five Element theory describes not four, but five, seasons in each year. The fifth season is upon us now and is known in TCM as Late Summer, starting towards the last two weeks of August and continuing right up until the Autumn Equinox in September.
This is a transitional time for the earth, after a hectic and bountiful few months of growth, nature can at last put her feet up and take a well-earned rest. If we are to live in harmony with the seasons, this is a time for us to follow suit. To relax, sit back and take stock of what we have enjoyed and achieved over the spring and summer months!
Keats wrote of autumn and famously conjured a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. For me these words just as beautifully capture the essence of late summer. A time to be mellow, allow ourselves time to take a step back and appreciate the abundance of nature all around us. A time to nourish our body with the plentiful fresh produce summer provides and make the most of all we love about this season, before we push ahead into preparing for the colder months ahead.
Even those of us long past school age can come face-to-face with those familiar back to school feelings when September rolls around. We may not be buying our new uniform and picking out pencil cases, but we probably all carry around the emotional imprint of that start of term feeling. If you notice an underlying feeling of anxiety and trepidation at this time of year, don’t worry, you are not alone!
From late August onwards, parents everywhere jump into organisation mode as they ready their children for the new school year. The retail industry steps up a gear in preparation for a busier shopping season ahead. Recruitment picks up pace across most industries and parliament reopens for business. The wider world around us picks up speed and all too soon summer can seem like a distant memory.
We can’t all practically opt out of the faster pace this month inevitably brings, but we can work on altering our own outlook and allow ourselves the space to ease out of summer a little more gently. Here are four simple suggestions for connecting with and supporting your emotions at this time of year.
Reflect – ‘This summer has flown by’ is such a common phrase at this time of year. Allow yourself permission to press pause and take some time to reflect on what you have enjoyed doing over the last few months. You might choose to look through and edit photos you have taken, make an online album or print the images you have captured over the summer. Perhaps sharing or giving them to the friends and family you have spent time with. If you write a diary or keep a journal, you might enjoy reading back through your entries over the summer months, taking some time to think about what moments made you happiest and why.
Relax – Carve out some dedicated time for relaxation. Do this in whatever way suits you, without feeling guilty for it! Light a favourite candle, buy some new bath oil and take an extra long soak. Start a new book and dive into that for a few hours. Spend time walking outdoors in nature while the weather remains warm and the evenings are light. Whatever your favoured relaxation practice is, use your chosen time intentionally. Feel good about allowing yourself this precious space to check in with yourself. Think of it as a little self-care ceremony and a time to acknowledge the seasonal shift.
Nourish – In TCM the late summer season corresponds with the Earth element. The spleen and stomach govern this season and in order to stay healthy these organs need to be supported well with healthy and nourishing foods. Think about altering your diet to include more seasonal, fresh produce and give your digestive health the best support you can, in preparation for the winter months ahead.
Inhale – Essential oils provide us with a wonderful, natural toolkit for supporting our well-being throughout all the seasonal transitions. I have selected three oils which are well suited for late summer and below is a guide to making a simple blend for diffusing at home.
Patchouli Essential Oil (2 drops)
Lemon Essential Oil (2 drops)
Peppermint Essential Oil (2 drops)
Add two drops of each essential oil to a bowl of warm water or essential oil diffuser and breathe in.
Learn more about TCM and supporting your health in late summer:
TCM and seasonal living: