In western medicine we rarely talk about the influence of seasons on health, except for things like Seasonal Affective Disorder (commonly known as the winter blues), or flu season. Regardless of how little we may notice, the seasons do influence us a great deal, even in our modern culture. While our awareness of the power of the seasons has dropped to the background, numbed by things like our access to seasonal foods year-round, and ability to alter the temperature to meet our comfort (thanks to air conditioning and heating), it can still be felt and perhaps most easily observed, through its impact on our emotions. Anxiety and depression are common feelings that can emerge with the shifts of the seasons.
Emotions are highly subjective to energetic changes. As energy goes through its natural cycle we see it in season changes, as well as how people feel. We can better understand how the energetic cycle influences us by observing the quality of each season.
Everyone has 5 different qualities of energy flowing through them. The ancient Chinese described them as the 5 Elements, or the 5 Phases. They are as follows; Winter/Water, Spring/Wood, Summer/Fire, Late Summer/Earth, Fall/Metal. Each energetic element or phase fluctuates based on the season, time of day, and individual. Each person expresses one of the five qualities of energies that run through them more than the others. In 5 element acupuncture this is called a Causative Factor- the energy that foundationally shapes unique personal expressions.
How one feels during a season is greatly influenced by the resonation between their personal energetic chemistryand the energy of the season. If there is an imbalance in one’s personal energy a season can accentuate the instability. (In cooking, for example, if you take a jalapeño , a food that is naturally spicy, and put it in a recipe that adds onions and chili powder, you’ll end up with what was originally spicy and make it extraordinarily so.) Similarly in people: If a person thrives at a fast pace, warm environment, and is outgoing, in summer months this condition may become even more so, fueled by the warm weather and engaging energy. However, in winter, when the weather is cold and there is a natural inclination to contract and draw inward, it can dramatically impact how one feels and can easily cause the experience of anxiety or depression.
Harmonizing a patient’s energetic system can minimize seasonal negative feelings, such as anxiety and depression. Harmony occurs when the flow of energy from one element transitions smoothly into another. When this flow is established a synergy between the season’s energy, and the energies within us, is created, allowing the richness of each element to resonate through us from a stable emotional foundation.