Blog, Family & Home, Season, Self

Self-Care in Summer

Funny thing… I don’t recall a summer such as this – ups and downs in weather, health, temperament… being coaxed out of our selves and shells, only to be blown black in by icy blusters and sheets of rain. It’s played havoc with us at home. We’ve had a spate of poorliness with the tots – colds, rashes, fever, sickness – and it seems that whenever we managed to get on an even keel, something else came along to knock us off… yet… all of the lows have been short-lived. Each of the children has bounced back beautifully after each illness – rarely lasting any more than 48 hours – and we’ve been so thankful to see their flourishing immune systems cope with nasty viruses – our eldest was the only one in the family not to get hit by the sickness bug, though she felt nauseous for two days. Bless her.

In trying to work out what it is that has helped us bounce back, one thing rings very true at home: sleep. In summer, there’s real merit in going to bed that bit later – letting our bodies absorb and soak up the late-in-the-day sunlight and moon’s rays (more on moonbathing some other time soon), and waking that bit earlier… our cells fed as they are by light, energised by the luminous skies. Yet – when the weather takes a turn, as it has in fact done just as I sit to write this – a sticky and dry 30 degree day, now below 20 in the eve, windy, with a tangible chill – one must respond. Ayurveda teaches us to live in the moment and respond to the moment – we can experience four seasons in one day at times – and simply saying – “it is now summer, so I shall live in summer clothes and eat raw salads” is as unhelpfully prescriptive to our health as any other rigid and impersonal diktat. Move, listen, respond – by understanding that it’s a good idea to have a warming soup in summer on a chillier night. A better idea still to pull on an extra layer (including socks – our feet being very sensitive to changes in weather), when the mercury dips, and curl up that bit earlier at night, when the day has not afforded us ample energy from the sun. Which is what we’ve been doing at home – colder darker days have sent us to bed earlier, brighter, sunnier days, have kept us out, light-imbibing, that bit later. All natural, easy and health-supporting.

There’s also a shift in energy in later summer – so, those days that fall after the solstice, but before autumn’s rein – where spring’s impetus and summer’s early bloom, gives way to a sense of weariness… so much doing, growing, living – our cells working doubly hard it feels at times – all around us bursting with ripeness and richness… yet, we must also find time to replenish and feed, recoup and restore. Keeping that insatiable pitta fire at bay – pitta is always raised on hot and humid days – takes care. A focus on sweet, bitter and astringent foods replaces coolness into our bodies, and keeps things from burning themselves out. A slow stoke, rather than a violent explosion. A focus, too, on grounding, soothing and calming activities – keep that competitive streak at bay, and stem the impatience with arts and movement that mimic the ease and slowness of nature… Qi Gong, Yin Yoga… our minds may race more at this time of year too – filled with possibility, energy, fervour at times. The art of Vedic Meditation has brought much to our family life, and Mr Rushton has written a lovely piece about this for our friend Daisy Finer, at Spa.Kitchen, which we’ll run here in a week’s time too. I very very rarely find 20 minutes twice a day, which is the ideal Vedic way – but 20 minutes each evening, I can do, and do so wholeheartedly – delighted to sink into a series of deliciously simply moments, with the company of nothing other than a sound, to soothe, settle and calm. I’d urge you to try it – we both learned with the lovely Will Williams and Jess Cook – seek them out – you will be so glad that you did.

Happiest Summer – speak again soon, Eminé x

For more information on eating in summer, read my feature here.

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