Spring has sprung! The shift in temperature is obvious, but can you also notice the change in energy and feeling? There’s the flurry of activity in nature – from the behavior of local animals to the different seasonal fruits and vegetables bursting from the branches and soil. We need to adjust our activity and lifestyle to the energy of the season in order to experience vibrancy in our lives too. I’m going to teach you exactly how with these Spring health tips from Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Spring
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a complete holistic health system that supports the body, heart, mind, and spirit. It’s based on the concept that we are all microcosms of nature. We achieve a relative balance of Yin and Yang energy based on our personal constitution and that of the current season.
In Spring, we experience a balance of Yin and Yang energy at the Spring Equinox, and then the Yang, hot, vibrant energy of the sun starts to accumulate as we approach the Summer Solstice. For this reason, we feel the desire to be more active, to be outside, to soak up the sun when it makes an appearance, to move our bodies more, and we may find ourselves wanting to stay up later and rise earlier in the morning, making the most of the day.
In Chinese Medicine and Taoist philosophy, Spring is associated with:
- The element Wood
- The color Green
- Movement of Qi (vital energy)
- Liver & Gall Bladder organs & channels in the body
- The Tendons
- Our Eyes & Sight
- Sour taste
- Compassion & Decisiveness when in balance
- Anger & Indecisiveness when out of balance
- Wind as the Weather that can cause harm
We can consider all of this as we strive to find balance this season. Here are my Spring health tips on how to do this on every level!
How to Support Your Body in Spring
Change Your Diet to Lighter, Cooler Foods
It’s time to let go of those heavy, nourishing, comfort foods of Winter and start adding lighter, more cooling foods into the diet as the weather gets warmer. But this transition should take time, and may still not be appropriate if your constitution is more cold and damp (tending toward loose stools and generating a lot of mucus in the nose/lungs). If digestion is okay, you can eat more salads and raw in-season fruits & vegetables, otherwise, cook your veggies and fruits well.
See if you like these Delectable Spring recipes!
Nourish Liver Energy with Sour Foods
Lemons, limes, pickles, and vinegar all support the liver. But if your Liver energy is too strong (with feelings of heat rising up to the head, anger, tinnitus/ringing ears, frustration, see more in the Emotions section below), then avoid these foods.
Clear Your Body of Toxins
Spring is a popular time to try detoxifying protocols to clear the Intestines, fortify the gut lining, support the Kidneys and Liver, and boost immune function.
Of course it’s best to detox under the guidance of a qualified practitioner to make sure you’re still eating a balanced diet and that it’s not too strict or done too long.
Find Natural Allergy Relief
If Spring is your least favorite season, I bet it’s because of seasonal allergies!
I totally understand any discomfort you’re feeling. I used to have intense allergies every Spring too, until I changed my lifestyle. Your can read more about my story here.
Now I may have a slight runny nose, but that’s it. This is a huge deal since I use to get frequent sinus infections and stuck in a horrible cycle of antibiotic use.
Much of the process in healing from allergies is to support your gut health. Consider supplementing with a high quality probiotic to boost your immune system function. And find a holistic health or TCM practitioner to address this immune imbalance naturally.
Shed Your Winter Coat & Move Your body!
Spring is a great time to pick up a new sport or activity, and for weight loss endeavors. You’ll enjoy exercising outdoors and the motivational energy of the season will keep you going!
Give Your Eyes a Rest
When the eyes are heavy and strained from time on the computer or other electronic device, the best thing you can do is go outside and look at the leaves on trees and bushes. The green color is soothing for the eyes (supporting Liver/Gall Bladder energy) and being outside in 3D will use your eye muscles in a more balanced way.
How to Support Your Emotions in Spring
Soak up the sun
Sunlight is known to improve your mood. Plus, you’ll be storing vitamin D at every exposure, which is vital for immune health (related to gut health which also supports your emotional health!)
Recognize Feelings of Overwhelm
For some of us, Spring is glorious! But for others who are already very Yang (active, hot, intense characters), the increased energy of this season can be too stimulating.
Instead of going with the flow, they can try too hard to control what is happening, creating more emotional & physical stress and energetically what we call in Chinese Medicine “Liver qi stagnation”. Symptoms include sensations of heat rising, high blood pressure, headaches, neck/shoulder/upper back/side rib tension, impatience and angry outbursts.
* When any of this happens (anytime of year, really), it is a sign to chill out.*
Eat cooling foods and use diluted peppermint essential oil as a cool compress on the head/neck. You can also move your energy down by taking a casual walk outside; grounding in the earth, grass, or sand; and really paying attention to your feet making contact with the ground.
How to Support Your Mind in Spring
Adopt a Playful Attitude
Do you have to hold onto stress in order to prove that you’re successful, doing something worthwhile, or care deeply about something?
Are you upset about things happening in the world that you cannot control?
There is no need to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders and it’s not your sole responsibility to solve it’s problems. You will be more useful in coming up with impactful solutions if you’re balanced in body, heart, and mind anyway.
Oftentimes when I’m stressed, taking life too seriously, or just feeling overwhelmed, I sit and imagine again what it felt like when I was young and did not have so many responsibilities. I was empathetic, compassionate, and could be oversensitive in the moment. But I did not dwell on sadness and what was negative in the world. I moved forward.
Maybe you can try connecting in with your younger, more relaxed & trusting self. See if you can carry that attitude into everything you do – parenting, working, cooking dinner, whatever. Or maybe you can connect with your faith or higher power to guide you along. Life is what you make it!
Just do what you can, when you can, and appreciate the life that has been given to you!
There’s a saying in Yoga that the only thing you can count on in life is change. And our resistance to change is what causes suffering.
If you’re resisting change and suffering, this maybe a great time to move with the wind and try something new. Open up your mind to other possibilities. Trust that where you’re going is exactly where you need to be! It may be uncomfortable, but sometimes we need to experience unease before we can expand and grow.
In a season dominated by movement, sitting still and meditating may seem unappealing. But it’s important to strike a balance between activity & rest and productive thoughts & reflection. Here are some guided meditations you can listen to if you’re new to the practice.
If seated meditation does not suit you, try walking meditation. Move as slow or fast as need be, but keep the mind fixed on placing one foot in front of the other and all the sensations that arise from that action. This is a skill we can all develop in life when things become overwhelming
Spring asks us to be like the trees – sturdy, strong, and focused on reaching for the sun (or our passions, goals, plans), but flexible enough to sway and adjust in the wind to avoid breakage.
So when you feel like the branches of your body, heart or mind are becoming too taut & resistant, I hope these Spring Health Tips help bring more ease to your life.
Well wishes to you all … Namasté