Wellness Tips for Spring
Updated: Mar 19, 2020
Chinese Medicine helps us harness the power and beauty of spring. Here's how.
Enjoy the Beauty
Change weaves together the seasons and each season reflects unique qualities of nature, the cosmos, and our place within it. While winter offers the resting quiet to reflect and conserve nascent energy, spring is a time of regeneration and renewal. Verdant buds appear on bare branches, seeds begin to sprout, the earth is warmed by the expansive light of the sun. A thrill is in the air, the hum of bees tickle burgeoning flowers, the crisp resonance of stars uplift the timeless depths of an endless cerulean sky.
In East Asian traditions, spring is associated with the wood element, the color green, movement and wind. In Chinese medicine, spring is also associated with the liver and its complementary organ, the gallbladder. The health of the liver is reflected in the tendons, eyes, and fingernails, and is essential to a balanced reproductive system. The liver system engenders the smooth flow of mental and physical lifeforce energy or Qi throughout the body and mutually supports all the other organ systems. Liver qi facilitates the easeful movement of emotions, and is particularly linked with the secondary feelings of anger and frustration.
When the liver is balanced, our physical, mental and emotional experience is easeful. Like a young shoot sprouting to topsoil or the wise roots that anchor a weathered tree, wood exemplifies growth, change, and the moving through of obstacles. It’s an outward yang expression that encourages evolution, in the world and within. If this life force is thwarted - by a lack of activity, unfulfilled desires, or unexpressed emotions - it may revolve into physical, mental and/or emotional stress.
While spring often illumines winter’s doldrums, the evolution of spring can also exacerbate imbalances related to Qi stagnation. It’s not uncommon to dial into depression, muscular tension and pain, digestive issues, headaches, and menstrual disharmony during this time. If uncomfortable patterns surface or seem worse, don’t fret. The expressive quality of spring allows for profound transformation and reminds us to synch with natural rhythms. With a sense of evolution and new beginning, spring is the ideal time for enlightened health care and increased physical activity.
Harness the Power of Spring
To optimize our health and harness the blossom of spring’s light:
Exercise and Stretch. The liver system is deeply connected with the tendons of the body. Holding and releasing rich stores of oxygenated blood to the tendons and sinews is one way the liver supports movement and change throughout the body. Stretching and exercise maintain tendon health and flexibility. Inadequate activity takes a tole - think tightness, tension and irritability. To counteract qi stagnation and other frustrations, take long walks, incorporate a daily practice of yoga, qi gong and/or tai qi. Try acupuncture! Get down: dance, make music and art, play!
Enjoy Nature. Fresh air encourages the easeful flow of qi throughout the liver meridians and all energetic pathways. Take deep breaths. Inhaling the spring air and take a hike, a walk amongst trees or along the seashore. Cultivate a garden and pot plants for indoor growth.
Eat Green and Well. Dark, leafy vegetables and sprouted greens, like kale, chard, dandelion, watercress, asparagus, pea shoots, alfalfa and bean sprouts, wheat grass, all invigorate the liver’s functioning and enhance the smooth movement of qi throughout the body. Lightly steaming or sautéing vegetables and greens help retain their nutrients and facilitate digestion. As the temps slowly climb, sip a bit more water throughout the day. Sour flavors, in small amounts, also stimulate liver qi. Consider a slice of lime or lemon with your bevs. Pickled vegetables are great this time of year. As are Herbs like basil, dill and rosemary too.
We've all heard the term "spring cleaning." Let's! Clean and clear. Give away items you haven’t used in the past year. Clean out that kitchen drawer, closets, and storage spaces. Donate clothes, books and household items to a charity or shelter. Start the day with vegetable and fruit juices and plenty of water. Irrigate the nasal passage with salt water and a neti pot – this is especially helpful for those suffering from seasonal allergies.
Layer – During this time of transition, it’s hard to read how the day’s weather will unfold. Best to wear or carry extra layers and adjust as needed. Balmy mornings often evolve into blustery nights. Remember that the neck, throat, back and chest are the most vulnerable to invading pathogens like wind and cold, so enjoy the shifts and wear a scarf. Tucson folks, a light scarf or handkerchief is great, especially while riding a bike!
For more recommendations specific to seasonal allergies and hayfever, check this Intuitive Health & Healing post