Spring brings gentle rain, warmer weather, new growth of plants, green leaves and buds on trees. The natural world is shaking off the chill and debris from winter and is bursting with fertility and life.
In Chinese medicine, spring is associated with the wood element, acknowledging growth and living energy. It’s also associated with the liver and gallbladder system, which tells us it’s time to detoxify and eliminate anything that keeps us stagnant.
Get Out and Get Moving
Spring calls us to shake off our sedentary and stagnant winter hibernation and beckons us to come outside and get moving. The longer days help to keep us more cheerful and busy, extending our window for outdoor exercise and activity.
Adding more movement to our day in the springtime helps keep our life energy, or “qi” flowing. Movement and qi flow help make the most of spring’s natural rejuvenating force. Adding more time outdoors brings that fresh spring air into our lungs that also helps us breathe more deeply, which also increases our energy levels.
If you can’t get outdoors and move, do the next best thing and open your windows if you can. Bring in the fresh, clean, fragrant spring air so your living and workspaces feel more alive.
Nourish Yourself with Fresh Foods
Spring is a time to nourish and cleanse our liver with fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, and salads. The liver especially loves dark or bitter greens like spinach, endive, dandelion greens, and lettuces. The fiber in fresh fruits and vegetables keeps our digestion and elimination regular, and their high-water content will help keep your body hydrated. These effects, plus the ample phytonutrients and enzymes in fresh produce will help your liver move out stored toxins, and give it a rest from the heavier foods you may have been eating all winter. So add a fresh salad to your lunch and/or dinner, and keep fresh fruits to snack on instead of sugary or fatty treats this spring and your liver will thank you.
Changing Seasons Can Challenge the Body
While our spirit may welcome spring with open arms, the change in weather, as well as spring pollens and other allergens that come with warmer weather, can challenge our immune system or force our bodies to work harder to adapt to those changes. That’s why you might experience more flare-ups in the spring of skin conditions like eczema, acne, TSW and psoriasis.
The best way to support your body during seasonal changes is to keep strict adherence to your skin regimens and your treatment plan, and make sure you are eating healthful nourishing foods and getting the sleep and rest that you need.
Since stress on the body and immune system is cumulative, reduce what stress you can – both emotional and physical. This means it’s time to be more vigilant about avoiding foods or personal care product ingredients you’re sensitive to. Also, if at all possible, reduce your exposure to the emotional stressors in your life. Keep things light, easy, positive, and happy to the best of your ability. The fewer stressors your body has during this time, the more energy it can devote to coping with the seasonal change.
Allow Yourself to Bloom
Just like we are helping our liver remove stagnant toxins, spring is a great time to remove the clutter and debris from our living space – hence the tradition of “spring cleaning.”
It’s also great time to drop old stale thoughts and habits that keep your life stagnant, and clear away anything that’s preventing you from blooming. Sit down with a pen and paper and thoughtfully make a list of anything that is holding you back – both large and small. Are there small changes you can make to clear some of those blockages away?
Spring Buds Lead to Summer and Fall Fruits
Spring reminds us that what we nurture and develop now may take time to grow and develop. The positive changes and healthful choices we make now might not deliver results right away, but in time, like fruit that appears later in summer and fall, we can look back and thank ourselves for nurturing and protecting ourselves in the spring.
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About the Author
Olivia Hsu Friedman, LAc, Dipl.OM, DACM, Cert. TCMDerm, is the owner of Amethyst Holistic Skin Solutions and treats Acne, Eczema, Psoriasis, and TSW. Olivia treats patients via video conferencing using only herbal medicine. Olivia is Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Society of Acupuncturists, serves on the Advisory Board of LearnSkin, and is a faculty member of the Chicago Integrative Eczema Group sponsored by the National Eczema Association.