Seasonal Rhythms + Summer Rest
Every year around this time my body gives a big resounding "SLOW DOWN" that I just can't avoid. As the heat rises and the sun shines longer, I feel myself called to rest and restore (and also have a little fun) during the peak vitality of the season of summer.
The Importance of Rest
Rest is a concept that we often don't look at in this culture, and one that our faced paced, society doesn't really encourage, on any level. We're taught from a young age that nothingness is laziness, that productivity is godliness, and that throwing in the towel is for the weak. The truth is, that in order to have the energy to produce and create in the capacity that our society demands, you must also rest. Ever wonder why pregnant people sleep more? It's because we're biologically wired to need to sleep to restore and create. From a physiologic standpoint, our bodies cannot function without rest, yet somehow, we expect ourselves to create when we do don't get it.
How To Rest Like an Herbalist
So how does an herbalist rest? By letting go of expectation and allowing myself to just be, I find that my nervous system will often regulate itself and re-find the homeostasis that it has forgotten or temporarily lost. While I try to incorporate healthy rest at all times, especially after periods of hyper-productivity, I find myself needing to refill my own cup so that I can then overflow it in my work, life, and home. Rest can look like sleeping, but it can also look like allowing yourself to drop into your own natural rhythms, and move and do as you need in that moment, without expectation. To learn what fills my cup and helps me rest in summer, see below:
Cooling Herbal Infusions For The Nervous System: Summer is the season of heat, and as an already fiery person, I often find myself needing extra cooling and soothing herbal teas come the summer months. My current favorite is a blend of green tea, mint, and chrysanthemum, cooled and enjoyed in the peak of heat around 3:00 each day. Nervous system supporting teas are an excellent way to support our body's through the transformative and dualistic nature of summer.
Sleep: With the sun setting late and rising early, I naturally find myself sleeping less during the summer months, which to me, is natural. That being said, I also find myself needing to rest more often during this hot and quick time. Rising early and enjoying the crisp air is one of my favorite ways to stay energized, fresh, and inspired during summer. Taking the time to move slow and commit to lifestyle choices that promote a deep night's sleep is something I relish in doing when I have time off. How do we promote good sleep? 1) no caffeine past 2, 2) no alcohol before bed, 3) no screens in the room, 4) movement in the day, 5) low stress at night, and 6) nutritious foods all day are my-go recipe for a solid night's sleep.
Slow Mornings in The Garden: Did you know that what you do in the morning sets the tone for the whole day? Not rushing in the morning is my ultimate in everyday luxury. Mornings spent slowly sipping coffee, doing last night's dishes, tending to and watering the garden, journaling and pulling cards are my favorite ways to indulge in the slowness of the early day energy. I'll often follow this with a protein rich breakfast and a trip to the gym. Other ways to support yourself and set the morning tone for a good day include no screens for one hour, having a ritual that you follow, getting in some type of movement for the body, and bringing something in to ground and calm the mind.
Nourishing Ingredients At Every Meal: With more time on my hands during periods of rest, I always take this time to make sure I am meal prepping and giving my body nutrient-dense and diverse foods at every meal. Mindfully approaching the week's shopping list, I try to ensure I am getting plenty of cooling greens for liver health, lots of hydrating plants like melons, cucumbers, and water, and simple easy to digest proteins like chicken, fish, and beans (which are easy for me, but not always others). In traditional healing systems we often don't want to eat cold foods, but summer is my exception and I fill it with foods to balance out the heat.
Saying Yes To Joy: Saying "yes" to things that sound fun (when I have the energy) is always my strategy during summer rest. Take advantage of having less "to-do" by allowing more activities that bring joy into your life, despite what else you have on your plate. Joy is an essential part of filling our cups and being enlivened and we each have to find our own ways of bringing more joy, fun, and playfulness into our worlds.
Fill Your Glass
Not allowing time for rest is one of the number one things I see in my clinic, and often in my clients cases it leads to feelings of overwhelm, burnout, autoimmune flare ups, mental health challenges, fertility, and so much more. We are made to rest, just as much as we are made to create, and it's important to not deny ourselves this vital human right. Want to learn more about how to make rest a priority in your life? Visit me for an herbal consultation, or join me on The Herbal Path, to learn more about this traditional way of being.