Whether you are aware of it or not, each season can have a profound influence upon our health and well-being. In Chinese medicine, summer is associated with the Fire element. Physically the Fire element is ruled by the heart and small intestine, mentally the mind and spirit, and emotionally our thought processes and emotional well-being.

Dursunset in heart handsing this time, our body undergoes vigorous metabolic processes (body energy), which means summer is a time of heat, outgoingness, and moving outward in nature and in our lives.

When the Fire element is balanced, the heart is strong and healthy, the mind is calm, sleep is peaceful and enthusiasm and warmth are experienced in our relationships. If it is imbalanced one may experience depression, restlessness, insomnia, poor circulation and relationship disharmony.

 

The best way to understand the fire element is to picture a bonfire at the center of a summer party. When it is warm, glowing and inviting, the Fire is in balance. You are drawn by its radiance and enjoy chatting and laughing with others gathered. This reflects the healthy virtues of the Fire element, which are communication, connection, joy, fun and love.

Now envision the bonfire as the glowing flames start to fade. The vibrant glow is now ash and grey. The energy of the party slows and the guests begin to feel cold and leave. This represents what happens when the fire element becomes depleted. Without the spark of the fire element, one can become flat, cold, anxious, depressed and lonely.

Now imagine the bonfire blazing out of control. As flames spill over and sparks begin to fly, people run away to protect themselves. This type of overwhelming Fire represents a person with an excessive fire element. A person may appear out of control, excessively seeking attention, laughing and talking loudly and inappropriately. While trying to make a connection, they usually end up scaring people away (like the over blazing fire).

So how can you improve your heart health?

Every day we have an opportunity to make different choices that can support our physical and emotional well-being.

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Meditate. Stress is associated with high blood pressure, which can affect the heart. Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance benefiting your emotional and physical well-being, thereby alleviating stress. The benefits of meditation last after your session ends, continuously helping you stay calm throughout your day.

Eat more vegetables and fruits. Increasing these foods by at least 5 servings per week can help maintain and balance the Fire element and contain disease fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals, which help the heart. Sticking with seasonal fruits and vegetables are your best bet, as nature provides us with what our bodies need organically.

Add more fun! In Chinese medicine the Fire elements is about joy and connecting in our relationships, in nature and with ones self. Joy is the most nutritious ingredient you can consume for heart health.

Acupuncture. Acupuncture can improve the activity in the sympathetic nervous system that regulates heartbeat and blood pressure. According to research conducted by the International Society for Autonomic Neuroscience, acupuncture controls the heart rate and increases the strength of cardiac autonomic function. Getting regular acupuncture sessions can help make positive changes in your physical and emotional well-being.

Exercise more. Have the goal of increasing your physical activity by 10 minutes or more a day. Exercise can lower blood pressure, keep weight off and reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Keeping track of your exercise has become easier with technology. If helpful, download a mobile app to help you tract your physical exercise, food intake, sleep and more!

Acupressure. Rubbing acupuncture points with your finger for 30-60 seconds or more can stimulate the function of the point. Points Heart 7 and Pericardium 6 are helpful in balancing the Fire element.

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Heart 7 is located on the inside of the wrist, on the little finger side of the crease where the hand meets the wrist. It is helpful in calming emotions, alleviating anxiety, increasing memory, improving sleep and addressing sadness and fear.

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Pericardium 6 is located on the inside of the forearm, in between the tendons approximately 2½ finger widths below the wrist crease. This point is helpful in alleviating stress and anxiety, reducing irritability, easing nausea/vomiting, regulating pain in the hypochondriac region and chest and improving wrist and neck pain.

Giving priority to your heart, small intestine, emotional well-being, mind and spirit is most important to staying healthy in summer. Remember to always consult your health care provider when making any health changes.