“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”
I’ve always found the idea of “Flu Season” a bit suspicious. This concept that the Earth is suddenly making more pathogens during January and February than any of the other months, and that these pathogens are somehow more insidious and death-claiming ….well, it’s always seemed a bit far-fetched to me. To talk about “flu season” gives merit to the mentality that world is a terrifying, malevolent place that is out to attack us.
When you really think about it, does it not seem strange that humans are the only animals in all of nature that choose to believe that for this season, the environment is trying to disease us so intensely that we must be inoculated just to be out in public in our own indigenous neighborhoods? Trees do not worry about Flu Season. Birds don’t worry about Flu Season.
Fortunately, there are other ways of looking at the world. Chinese Medicine does not see the universe as a hostile place; rather, the world is a balanced, fair place that wants to see us live and thrive. There are ALWAYS pathogens in the air that may react poorly with our bodies and trigger a response. Our bodies have a natural intuitive defense for these pathogens, an energetic layer of immunity that sits on the surface of the skin called Wei Qi. Getting sick- colds, flu, allergies- is really about the battle between what’s in the air and the strength of our Wei Qi. When our bodies are strong, we are resting and eating properly, we’re exercising and managing stress, if we’re taking the best care of ourselves, that immune system functions best and protects us adequately.
However, in winter, particularly in harsher climates, it is just a heck of a lot harder to do all this. We are eating poorly, our bodies are exhausted from dealing with the extreme weather, we’re not exercising as much and we’re not getting that healthy, sunshine-y Vitamin D we are used to. We’re out of our routines. It’s not that there is a season of germs: there are germs all year long. What there is, is a season of lag when it comes to self-care and it requires a lot more effort. That’s why the strongest power to fight the flu- all year, not just in winter- is taking the best possible care of yourself, keeping yourself strong and active.
Whether or not there are more pathogens in the air in these months is ultimately irrelevant. (In Los Angeles, I treat far more flus at the end of summer than I do in winter, go figure.) The point is whether we choose to focus on “the season” or focus on ourselves. Buying into the mentality that there is unquestionably a rolling wave of phlegm and sniffles coming your way, in every handshake at work and sneeze on the subway, is just one way of viewing the world that effectively takes the onus off personal responsibility when it comes to health. I prefer not to choose seeing my world as germ-hostile.
Keeping focus on self-care is actually the most important component of health, and is not limited to these couple of months that the media wants us to be panicked. “Flu Season” is just a time for us to be that much more diligent and thoughtful about how we take care of ourselves, as we must all year round.