Finally, spring has arrived. Flowers are blooming and nature is flourishing, bringing with it a sense of personal growth and new beginnings. In contrast to the overindulgent, laid back and reduced energy of winter, now is the time for new challenges. In Chinese Medicine it is encouraged that as the seasons change, we should adapt accordingly to promote good health. Spring is a great time to begin actively challenging yourself to make better changes in order to improve your overall wellbeing from afresh.
To start fresh it requires removing toxins from our daily routine. Many people would have done a detox at the start of the year. However, being that the New Year falls in the middle of winter, it is not an ideal time to make changes in order to cleanse the body. Spring on the other hand brings about a new energy that should be used to eliminate waste through diet, attitude, body and your environment. It’s all about spring-cleaning your life. Once you start taking the steps towards a cleaner and healthier lifestyle you will feel refreshed, clean, rejuvenated and healthier. Now that’s something to be enthusiastic about!
1. HAVE A CLEAR OUT – Spring is an important time for cleaning and improving harmony, not only on the inside but also in our surroundings. Our health is closely related to the climate and our immediate surroundings so it’s important you take care in making sure your living space is clean and free of toxins (this includes your work space). Furthermore, avoid chemical based products. Regular use of household cleaning products has been linked to triggering health problems, such as asthma, after years of exposure. If possible opt for environmentally friendly and chemical free products, now available in most high street supermarkets. If you want to take a DIY approach you can check pinterest where you would find plenty of homemade cleaning solution ideas.
2. GET A PLANT – Plants are a great way to clean the air within your home and remove toxins. Money plants are a traditional favourite in Chinese homes as they are said to attract the energy of wealth and prosperity, as well as provide a good supply of oxygen.
3. GO OUTSIDE – The sun has finally started to shine through and the air is full of fresh energy. Opening the windows, getting outside and deep breathing exercises in good quality air help to replenish Qi (the vital energy that makes you a living, breathing creature). Achieving a healthy balance of Qi is essential to our well-being. If our Qi tanks are low or blocked, harmony is lost and we start to get ill. Even though urban societies are commonly surrounded by heavily polluted and dirty air, the air outdoors is still considered better for your health as it circulates, whereas the air indoors is comparatively inactive.
4. REDUCE ELECTRICAL GOODS – Our reliance on smart phones, laptops and instant notifications has meant we are now contactable at all times. While it may be comforting to be always in the know, it also disturbs any moments of peace and quiet, as well as our sleep. Take time to do a digital detox everyday and enjoy the peace and quiet again. Dedicate an hour each day to do whatever you want to, whether it’s going for a walk, listening to music or reading a book. During this time switch off all communication and just be with yourself. Just having the potential of someone calling you puts your body in a state of readiness, which stops you relaxing.
5. DRESS WARM – Don’t remove those winter layers too quickly as you risk the chance of catching a cold. Although the sun is out, spring can be an extremely windy time of year. Protect yourself from the cold as it slows down the immune system as your body uses its resources to warm you up. By keeping warm, you allow your body’s resources to be used to fight off germs. Wear layers to easily adapt if you get too hot.
6. BE AROUND PEOPLE THAT MOTIVATE YOU – Spending time with others can have an effect on our overall health. It can leave you feeling invigorated, calm or even drained. As spring is a time for personal growth, try to surround yourself with people that motivate you. According to Chinese Medicine, the liver and gallbladder are the organs linked to spring. The liver is related to your ability to plan ahead, while the gallbladder is related to your ability to finalise decisions. By working on your relationships and surrounding yourself with people that encourage positivity in you, you are protecting these vital organs allowing yourself to grow as nature intended.
7. LET GO OF TENSION – Spring is a time for transition. If you find yourself angry, frustrated and irritated, take a good look at your life and evaluate what changes to make going forward. Stress can be the starting point for all types of health problems including anxiety, depression, hypertension, lethargy, addiction, obesity, muscle pain etc. According to Chinese Medicine theory Chinese herbs and acupuncture can be prescribed to soothe and tonify the body so that you can better cope with stress. Dr. Lily from the AcuMedic clinic explains “When treating stress, special attention is usually directed towards clearing Liver Qi stagnation. The Liver is the organ relating to emotion in Chinese Medicine theory. If the Liver meridian is blocked, Chinese herbs are used to sooth the Liver and to tonify the Kidney which can mobilise Qi to clear the blockage that can lead to serious diseases.”
8. GET A MASSAGE – As massage stimulates the circulatory system, it supports the body’s natural detoxifying functions. Aromatherapy, Thai and Tuina massage are all options you should consider indulging in when spring arrives. Although all massage feels great, relieves tension and increases energy, Thai and Tuina massage use special techniques to help release blocked Qi that may have been caused by the sluggishness of winter. Aromatherapy massage may also be beneficial in spring to help detoxify the body with the use of certain oils, such as Peppermint, Juniper, Grapefruit, Lemon and Mandarin.
9. STRETCH – As mentioned before, spring is all about taking on new challenges and rejuvenating the body. This is a great time to start a new exercise regime. Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong and your local body balance class are all great options as they require you to stretch. Stretching is good as it will open the pathways of the liver and gallbladder, avoiding stagnation and the many health problems that can arise when these organs are in bad shape.
10. SIMPLIFY YOUR DIET – What you eat plays a major role in the health of your liver and gallbladder, which play an important role in the digestion of food, especially fat. A diet that is excessive in heavy, greasy, sweet delicacies, fat and sugar may put major stress on the digestive system, making it harder for the body to naturally eliminate waste. A light and simple diet can prevent diseases, strengthen the body and prolong life. Eat foods to help tonify the liver, such as foods that are dark green and dark reds. Parsley, kale, watercress and foods that consist of essential fatty acids are all recommended. Avoid processed, microwaved or re-heated food.
11. EAT EARLY – You should aim to eat at fixed times of day, on a regular schedule. Breakfast should be around 7am, followed by lunch at noon and dinner at 6pm. As this might not always be possible, you should at least try to eat all meals before it gets late. Chinese Medicine believes that the night time is for cleansing and healing the body from the day before. By eating late at night you risk disturbing the liver and gallbladder Qi as the body will use the energy to digest rather than cleanse.
12. DRINK LESS ALCOHOL AND STIMULANTS – Both alcohol and stimulants overwhelm the liver and cause permanent damage. In the UK, disease caused by excessive alcohol consumption accounts for over a third of liver disease deaths. Try adding dandelion leaf and nettle tea to your diet as both are known to increase the elimination of toxins.