Sad that summer is (technically) over? What if you learned that, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, summer is actually divided into two seasons, the second of which is still happening? Late summer, as it’s known, serves as a buffer between summer and fall. Think of it as your time to recover from summer and prepare for fall and winter.
It’s a time to enjoy all those favorite summer activities one more time, while preparing mentally and physically for the rest of the year. Here are a few tips to help ease the transition as you shift into late summer and, eventually, to autumn.
What is late summer?
Summer is a season full of potential – the seeds planted in spring take root and grow. It’s hot, with endless energy, longer days and a vibe that everything has the potential to change for the better.
It tends to be a time we all go outside and stay there, with long walks, days at the pool and hours in the garden. Surrounded by nature’s vibrancy, we feel that way too. Summer heat can serve as creative fuel, inspiring us to set goals and then crush them.
But as August hits, things start to change again. That growth approaches its peak. Back to school arrives but we aren’t quite ready to slow down. Just like the tomatoes in the garden that turn out one more flavorful harvest, late summer gives us a final burst of energy before we start to turn inward in fall and winter.
Late summer starts around back to school time and lasts through the Fall Equinox on September 22. According to TCM, the associated element is earth, and the color is yellow. The stomach and spleen organs are the focus during late summer, which marks the end of the “yang” seasons. (Fall and winter are associated with yin energy, as you might have suspected.)
Ever feel like you get the “back to school blues” even if you don’t have school-age kids at home? That “blah” feeling as fall approaches might be your body adjusting to the natural rhythms of the season. Keep reading for tips on making your transition easier.
How late summer can help you transition from summer to fall
In TCM, you are a scaled-down version of the universe at large, with one goal in mind: balance. Everything you do, think, consume and believe can move you toward balance or away from it. And, since everything you experience in the world can do the same, changes in seasons have a way of making you feel a bit off-kilter. Embrace these tips to restore balance as you navigate from late summer to fall.
Reclaim bedtime. Since fall begins the seasons of “yin” energy, this is a good time to take a look at your bedtime routine. One of the easiest habits you can start is making our Hello Dreams™ sleep strips with Melatonin & Calm Down™ herbs part of your evening ritual. Slip one onto your tongue and feel the cool minty, herbal strip melt away as you drift off to sleep.
Focus on your digestion. With the stomach as one of the associated organs of late summer, it’s a great time to reassess your digestion and your diet. While summer can mean more fresh produce, it might also be a season of “yes,” with extra (frozen) treats like ice cream, iced mochas and ice pops. Use this time to slowly adjust to less of a “YOLO” attitude about meals and snacks toward a more balanced one.
Think of digestion in a non-literal sense, too. Beyond food, we also “digest” energy, thoughts and beliefs. Late summer is a good time to reassess how much time you’re spending online – and who you’re following on social. If anyone on your feed makes you feel “less than,” hit the unfollow button (or at least mute them). Instead, surround yourself (online) with positive messages and people who share your values and beliefs.
Surround yourself with sunshine. Yellow is the color of the season – and of the sun. It has a way of making you feel happier and brighter. Banish the bland hues and add a pop of color to your diet and to your home. Winter will bring enough shades of gray and neutrals. Brighten up while you can!
Wake up early to embrace the light. Dark mornings will arrive soon enough, so set your alarm and take advantage of the sunshine. Not a morning person? Thankfully, Good Morning Sunshine™ Coffee + Adaptogens is ready at the touch of a button, and its rich, smooth flavor has a way of making getting out of bed a little easier. Plus, no matter the season, it gives you more than just caffeine to fight fatigue, since it also contains organic red ginseng extract. As an adaptogen, ginseng supports your body’s sleep cycles and energy levels over time, while the coffee is what you crave to get up and go.* See what it’s like to have a pod – not a pot – as you adjust from summer to fall.
Embrace what’s in season. Think of what’s harvested in late summer and fall: Root veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes and parsnips. The return of greens like kale, collards and spinach. Tree fruits like pears and apples. Fill your cart and then your plate with these to help your palate adjust from the cool, refreshing summer foods.
Nourish your body. When you’re constantly on the go, as is common in summer, nourishment is sometimes an afterthought. While bare shoulders and open windows might be coming to an end, slower days with more time indoors are arriving. Use this time as a chance to revisit favorite recipes that nourish body and soul, with bonus points if they’re shared with those you love.
Spice things up. Summer seasonings tend to be cool, herbal and fresh, while fall shifts toward warmer spices. Add a dash of cinnamon or cardamom to your morning coffee (this is especially tasty with Good Morning Sunshine). Make warm spiced applesauce for topping whole-grain pancakes. Go beyond your usual spices and experiment with ginger, star anise and cloves.