Have you ever wondered why some people feel sad during the autumn season? Aside from Seasonal Affective Disorder, where people feel sad because lack of Vitamin D3 affects their serotonin levels, there’s also a theory based in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

According to TCM theory, it is believed that the body is under the control of the Five Elements: Water (winter), Wood (spring), Fire (summer), Earth (late summer), and Metal (fall). Each element corresponds to a specific organ as well as a specific emotion.

The organ associated with Fall is lung and the emotion is grief. Experiencing grief during the Fall might be as simple as being sad that the freewheeling days of summer are over or as complex as mourning the loss of something or someone — maybe even a piece of yourself.

According to the Institute of Classical Five Element Acupuncture:

In Chinese medicine, autumn is the season of the element Metal (or air). Grief is the emotion of the Metal element. We all experience loss, separation, and “letting go,” and we appropriately feel grief at those times. Grief cleanses us of what is no longer needed in our lives. When the energy of Metal is blocked or imbalanced within us, our expression of grief likewise becomes imbalanced and inappropriate. It may be excessive and ongoing. Or, in the other extreme, it may be absent, as in those who cannot express their grief.

woman resting

woman resting

As Nature moves into a period of rest, we too must be mindful not to overexert ourselves. The time for “burning the candle at both ends” — the summer — has passed. Now is the time for us to contain ourselves, looking inward, slowing down and  behaving with economy (essentially budgeting our energy), exerting our will with a quiet and calm countenance.

The Five Elements, when operating harmoniously, are like a dream team of wellness. If we ignore what nature asks of us (ie: run ourselves ragged during the fall and winter months), we risk throwing the whole system out of balance and our lives become unmanageable.

Fall is a season of releasing what no longer serves us. It’s an opportunity to move out the old to make room for the new. If all of this is new to you, you can get some clarity by journaling, meditation, spending quiet-time in nature,  looking into the flames of an open fire or a starlit sky. You can also seek out professional help from an acupuncturist or acupressure therapist if you’d like an outside perspective.

Is there something you’re holding on to that you need to let go of?