Spring is a favourite season among many people. There’s a sense of hope as the cold dark days of winter disappear, and signs of new beginnings, growth, and prosperity, shows itself via warm weather and budding plant life. Yet this is a time where people often catch a cold, get frequent headaches or migraines, have anxiety, insomnia, skin breakouts, or fluctuating emotional issues.
In Chinese Medicine, there is a system called the 5 elements. This is similar to the 4 directions, the doshas, and the 4 elements, in other cultures and forms of medicine around the world. In Chinese medicine, the Wood element governs the spring months, the liver and gallbladder and their respective meridians and energies. These energies include an increase of strength, creativity, visions for the future, and an uptick in motive force with a renewed feeling to breakthrough challenges so one can grow. Think of the energy that a sprout needs to break ground from beneath the surface of the earth. That is the energy of the liver and of the Wood element and thus spring time.
Anger, frustration and short tempers are popular emotions during this season, as some find it challenging to balance the increase of plans, activity and energy, in a calm manner. Its common for people to get easily angered or frustrated if someone or something gets in the way of them doing a task or trying to get from point A to B. Others can get the blues, feel unmotivated, to plan, act or make decisions, which is a result of a stagnated liver.
Below are a few tips to make your transition into spring a good one…
1. Resist the urge to underdress.
Fact: wearing less clothing will not make the warm weather come any quicker.
Always wear or bring a scarf and an extra layer with you, and wear clothing that breaks the wind. Just like autumn, spring is a time of year where a lot of people catch a cold. This is because of rapidly changing weather patterns, and people not wearing enough protective clothing. Wind in Chinese Medicine is said to lodge in the meridians, tensing up tendons and muscles, and even carries pathogens which can make people sick. Being that the Gallbladder meridian travels through the head, neck and the top of the lungs, its common to get a headache, stiff neck, shoulder pain, and get a lung infection at this time of year. Always make sure to cover your neck when its, cold, damp, or windy. Also, be sure to protect any injured areas from the elements as well- if you have low back pain, skip the crop top. If you have wrist or hand issues, keep wearing gloves until its warm outside.
2. Eat more dark leafy green vegetables
It’s always a good idea to eat with the seasons. This means eating food that’s growing in the region where you live, at that time of year. Of course, in our globalized world, we eat food from all over the world, all year round, and that’s great too. But it’s still a good idea to think seasonally. In the winter it’s common to eat heavier, richer, saltier and more preserved or processed foods. We generally exercise a lot less as the cold, dark days are not as appealing to be out and about. The combo of less exercise with more richer, processed foods, leads to a buildup in the system and it’s common for people to feel bogged down. This shows up as poor digestion, low mood or seasonal depression, brain fog, weight gain and so on. This is why it’s common in many cultures around the world, to do a cleanse or fast in the spring. So if you feel like you want to shake off the heaviness of winter, try adding more greens in your diet. Cooked instead of raw is best for most greens during early spring.
3. Balance Activity with Rest
There’s a tendency to want to do it all at this time of year: spring cleaning, working, planning, going on trips, exercising more, seeing more friends and family, gardening and staying up later into the night. These are all wonderful things but sometimes this can be a little too much all at once. This can lead to overwhelm, anxiety, insomnia, digestive problems, anger or frustration, migraines or neck pain. Make sure to balance this sudden increase of activity (Yang) with Yin things such as cooling and light foods, staying hydrated, meditation, getting a massage, acupuncture, or other treatments that you like that helps you de-stress. Try to get to bed at a good time as much as possible.
Happy Spring !