As a an acupuncturist trained in Five Element acupuncture, much of the work I do is based on living harmoniously with the seasons. In New England, many patients experience Seasonal Affective Disorder—a type of depression specific to winter months. However, there’s also a lesser known form of seasonal depression, which many people experience but don’t put a name to: summer depression (and related anxiety).
According to the laws of Chinese Medicine, summer is the time associated with the heart and the fire element. It’s the most yang season: causing humans, animals, and plants to be at their most active during the summer, especially when it comes to interacting with others.
In Chinese medicine, the heart and fire element are associated with communication and the ability to form appropriate relationships of all kinds. Social connection is an essential component to a healthy life. From a western medical perspective, studies show that a lack of meaningful relationships correlates with higher chances of chronic health issues. On the flip side, long-term, quality relationships contribute to increased longevity and happiness.
Summer is the most natural time to be forming and deepening relationships with loved ones of all kinds. Here in New England, summers are jam-packed with social engagements, which bring a lot of joy and meaning into many peoples’ lives.
However, this active season can be very challenging for many people. This can include those who have experienced loss, those who feel isolated from people they were once close with, or those with intensely active social lives who find themselves burnt out or lonely at the end of the night. Even if none of these specific scenarios fits your life, but you find yourself feeling off, down, or overly anxious during the summer, your fire element may need some help.
Fire imbalance can manifest as depression, anxiety, or both. Many of my patients describe themselves fluctuating between anxiety and depression, and for some, this roller-coaster intensifies during summer months. The heart is especially susceptible to anxiety caused by the heat and activity of summertime. This can lead to insomnia, brain fog, heart palpitations, and a host of other symptoms. The aftermath of this heightened state is often complete burnout.
If you suspect that you may be suffering from summer depression or anxiety caused by an imbalance in the fire element, there are steps you can take to feel better.
Get acupuncture! Five Element Acupuncturists are specifically trained to treat this type of complicated imbalance, and can help with all of the steps below.
Take a look at the relationships in your life and determine if something needs to shift.
Make sure you are balancing your social interactions: if you find yourself alone a lot, make on effort to spend more time with others. Conversely, if you find your social calendar constantly full, make sure you make some time for yourself.
It’s natural to exercise more in the summer. Exercise is important for a healthy heart and can help with seasonal anxiety or depression. Find an exercise regimen that brings you joy and feels nourishing to your body.
Depending on your constitutional type and state of health, you may need to cool off! Some ways of doing this are to eat foods with a cooling energetic nature or to swim regularly.
Meditate. There is no better way to calm and nourish the heart than a daily meditation practice. Lovingkindness meditation can be especially helpful. Here’s another post I wrote about lovingkindess during the summer.
If you find yourself anxious or depressed in the summertime and are not sure why, you may be suffering from an imbalance in your fire element. Get in touch with any questions or to learn more about living in harmony with the seasons and five element acupuncture!