As spring approaches, it’s the perfect time to look at how the season’s rhythm impacts our health and well-being. The spring thaw, insects and other creatures waking up, and other new growth are excellent external reminders that each season has a certain rhythm.
Did you know that we, as human beings, have a seasonal rhythm too?
The great news is that Chinese medicine provides the perfect wisdom to use these rhythms to optimize your health in the spring.
According to the ancient wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine, each season links to a specific type of energy and specific organ systems.
Just as freshly budding plants and flowers need certain things in the spring to thrive, your body, mind, and spirit need certain things too. This article examines how to use simple wisdom from traditional Chinese medicine to optimize your health in spring.
We will explore:
- What is the energy of spring, and why does it matter?
- What organ systems need the most support for optimal health in spring and why?
- Practical tips you can do at home to align with the season and optimize your health in spring.
What is the Energy of Spring and Why Does it Matter?
Traditional Chinese medicine considers spring a time of growth, movement, and action. Like the plants bloom and reach for the sky in spring, we humans need to do the same to reach our full potential and achieve optimal health.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the element of spring is wood. When we think of wood, we think of growth, strength, and flexibility. We should keep this in mind when we think of how we are taking care of ourselves this spring.
In my previous seasonal article, How to Optimize Your Health in Winter, I mentioned that resting and replenishing your reserves is the focus. So, after a long winter of resting and replenishing your resources, the energy of spring represents a time of growth, renewal. It is a perfect time for starting projects you have planned for during the winter.
Additionally, unlike winter, spring has an outward movement quality to it. This outward movement is why many chronic conditions will worsen in the spring. They have been lying dormant all winter and come out in the spring just like a seedling.
You can use the spring care tips in this article to align with the energy of growth and renewal to optimize your health in spring.
What organ systems need the most support for optimal health in spring and why?
Traditional Chinese Medicine associates spring with the liver and gall bladder systems. So, the liver must get all the resources it needs. The liver has so many functions within our body that Chinese medicine has given it the position of General. The liver orders our qi and is the reason why we do anything.
Many things are dependent on the health of your liver, including circulation of blood, water metabolism, vision health, and reproductive health.
Signs of a compromised liver include vision impairment, headaches, grinding of teeth, PMS, and tendencies toward impatience.
Also, the emotion of the liver/gall bladder is anger. This anger comes from a lack of action. It could be repressed anger from not doing something you know is right for you. It could be from holding back your thoughts about someone or something. Either way, the liver is about the movement of energy, and stagnation is the enemy of the liver.
So, how do you nourish your liver for maximum spring health?
The most important thing you can do for your liver and gall bladder during spring is KEEP MOVING.
Since the liver is all about the movement of energy, it is vital to do things to keep that energy moving. Concentrate on more gentle activity, more mindful eating habits, and less obsessive thoughts and overeating.
Keeping the body moving will help the liver distribute qi, and stretching will keep your joints and tendons lubricated. A limber body means a happy liver. A happy liver means a healthy you.
Check out all of the spring care tips below to align with the rhythms of the season and optimize your health in spring.
7 Practical Tips You Can Do at Home to Align with Season and Optimize Your Health in Spring
Spring Care Tip #1: Take a lesson from nature.
- The spring is when nature starts “waking up” from a long winter rest.
- The plants start sprouting. The animals start coming out and meticulously preparing their new homes.
- The spring is a beginning time, and you can use that to create the projects you may have been thinking about during the winter.
Spring Care Tip #2: Use the energy of spring to set a good foundation for your life.
- Remember that there is no rush. Spring is a season of beginning, not finishing.
- Take the time to set yourself up for success when starting your projects.
- Think of how a farmer prepares the soil for spring planting. The farmer must follow every step to ensure success. Skipping any step could cause the crop to fail.
- So, be patient and complete.
- No skipping steps to get things done faster.
Spring Care Tip #3: Start or continue a meditation practice.
- Meditation is about breathing and practicing allowing thoughts to pass by.
- Spend 15 minutes upon waking and right before bed meditating to give your day and sleep a clean slate free from nagging or negative thoughts.
- A good breathing technique to start with is called the “box” technique:
- Breathe in for a count of 4.
- Hold that breath for a count of 4.
- Breathe out for a count of 4.
- Hold that for a count of 4.
- Repeat the previous steps.
Spring Care Tip #4: Add light exercise to your daily routine.
- Walking is an excellent exercise for everyone. It is great because it naturally moves the body. Also, you can practice your breathing as walking is very gentle.
- Other forms of light exercise that enhance qi’s movement are swimming, qi gong, and tai chi.
- A daily stretching routine is an excellent form of gentle exercise too. In addition, it also supports the liver by stretching the tendons, which will help you avoid injury since you will be so much more active.
- Remember, spring is the season of the wood element. Wood needs water to stay flexible and so do you. Staying properly hydrated will support your increase in exercise as well by feeding the cells and regulating your body temperature.
Spring Care Tip #5: Get outside and wear loose clothing.
- Spring is an exciting time and staying indoors promotes depression. Instead, allow the outward movement to take place by getting outside.
- Being in nature is very grounding and relaxing. When we relax, we allow our qi to flow freely.
- Also, wear loose clothing that will allow your skin to “breathe .” It is a little colder in early spring, so remember to dress in layers.
Spring Care Tip #6: Spring-clean your diet.
- Use this time to clean up what you are consuming. Now is a great time to remove any harmful eating habits lingering from the winter, like excessive sugar, dairy, or coffee consumption.
- Examples of good springtime foods that nourish the liver are green leafy vegetables, garlic, carrots, celery, cucumber, lemons, grapefruits, and beets.
- The list could go on forever, so it is easier to make the produce section of your grocery store a place to adventure. Think fresh and colorful when selecting your food.
- The liver likes things that are moist and alive with qi. So, try to avoid dry foods like crackers, bread, and cereals, even ones made with whole grains.
- Make sure that fresh vegetables make up one-half to 3 quarters of your plate.
- Also, here is a tasty Mung Bean Soup recipe to try.
Spring Care Tip #7: Support digestion with mindful eating habits.
- Avoid overeating as it causes stagnation in your digestive system, including your liver and gall bladder.
- Too much food will cause undue pressure in your upper abdomen and will hamper the function of the liver, gall bladder, spleen, and stomach.
- You can even make eating a meditation by eating slowly and thoroughly enjoying every bite. Eating meditation will not only feel good emotionally but will ensure that your digestion performs at its best.
Our aim is always to help your body, mind, and spirit fall back into their natural rhythms. By following these seven simple tips to optimize your health this spring, you’ll improve your circulation and increase your chances of staying healthy and well.
Of course, we’re always here to help when health concerns arise with 100% holistic care, no matter the issue. We’ve given over 18,000 treatments and counting, so we’ve seen pretty much every woman’s health and fertility issue, hormonal issue, or chronic illness out there.
We know how to awaken your body’s natural resources using a unique combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medications, targeted nutritional support, and mind-body medicine.
It’s easy to take the next step for in-depth support. Click here to request your free initial consultation. You are welcome to speak to us to find out if our 100% holistic healthcare services are a good fit for you.
*This article was originally published in March of 2015 and updated for clarity in March of 2022.
About the Author - Michael Hurley, L.Ac.
Michael is the co-founder and acupuncturist at Cup of Life Healing Center located at 82 Washington Street Suite 2 in Keene, NH. (603) 352-3625. He specializes in Women's Health and Fertility. Michael holds a Master of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM), one of the top-rated acupuncture schools in the country. He is nationally certified with the NCCAOM and licensed by the State of New Hampshire to perform acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine. Additionally, Michael is certified in 5-Element Functional Endocrinology and Reproductive Medicine.