But let’s face it: even if there are some things we can appreciate about the month of November, it tends to be a challenging part of the year. The days keep getting shorter and darker, and the ever damper and colder weather takes its toll on our energy and wellbeing. Our bodies become tired and sluggish, and we are more susceptible to falling ill. Aches and pains that had improved during the summer may start reasserting themselves. At the emotional and mental level, too, whether we’re dealing with a mild case of November blues or with a more severe one of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), we’re all affected in some way by these conditions.
Actually, we don’t even need to know Chinese medicine, as we tend to do this quite naturally: at this time of the year, we start making fires or turn up the heating, we use more lights, and we switch from crunching cooling salads and fruits to sipping warming soups and stews. There is nothing like the element of fire – red hot! – to help us balance out the effects of this season. Achy joints and shivery colds improve with hot baths, hot drinks, and heating salves. SAD is treated herbally with St. John’s wort (whose oil and tincture are, wouldn’t you know it, bright red) and with full spectrum light, which imitates the light of the sun. The sun, of course, is our most important source of fire energy, produced by continual and massive explosions and fires in the very centre of our solar system. It can get too hot in the summer, but oh how relieved and grateful we are when it breaks through the heavy, bleak November clouds.
So this month, when the blues hit you, find yourself some reds. Wear warm colors, eat red or orange food. Bake a pumpkin pie and invite friends or family over to share it with. Make a fire or turn the heat up, light some candles, and take time to let this fiery energy warm every cell of your body and every fiber of your heart. Find the first red poinsettias, put up your Christmas lights early. Treat yourself to something red (dollar stores are excellent sources of cheap and silly red things that will bring a smile to our faces). Let yourself play and be silly until your cheeks turn red and your heart glows… and let me know which reds saved you from the dreaded November blues.