Hello Spring! Let’s get up, get out and shed that winter stagnation.Chinese medicine recognizes the importance of living in harmony with each season so we can feel our very best. Here are 8 of our favorite tips to help keep you feeling spring-time fresh:
1. Wake up and stretch – Rising earlier and beginning a healthy morning routine of walking or stretching will help alert your brain that it’s time to wake up. As you set your internal clock to the sun, you will be better able to use your energy during the day and rest more soundly at night. TCM says liver stores blood during periods of rest and then releases it to the tendons in times of activity, maintaining tendon health and flexibility. Try a gentle routine of yoga or tai chi moves.
2. Get outside and move – The liver is easy to stagnate in the spring. Fresh air, and outdoor activities of all kinds can keep liver Qi flowing. Especially if you have been feeling irritable, find tranquility in nature by taking a hike or walking through a park to smooth out that liver Qi and move stagnation.
3. Taste sour – Foods and drinks with sour tastes stimulate the liver Qi. Put lemon slices in your drinking water, use vinegar and olive oil for your salad dressing or garnish your sandwich with a slice of dill pickle. It has a contracting, astringent effect and dries and firms. A small amount of the sour flavor is essential for a balanced liver, but be careful not to consume too much or it may cause dryness.
4. Breath easy– Many recent articles have been circulating on the benefits of acupuncture for allergy sufferers. Some of our favorite take home habits include cleansing of the sinuses with a neti pot/inhalation therapy and consuming raw, local honey. From a TCM perspective honey can benefit the middle, boost Qi, nourish, moisten and lubricate the intestines. A warm glass of water with a tablespoon of honey is a soothing way to start your day, add some fresh squeezed lemon juice and it’s the perfect spring tonic.
Looking for other options to avoid the neti? Use an 8 Branches nasalMetal blend includes eucalyptus, lavender, and lemon oil to help to relieve congestion, open the sinuses and reduce inflammation… Ahh, breath easy this Spring.
5. Rest your digestion – A good way to cleanse and prepare for renewal is by reducing consumption. Dr. Oz has a great plan for a three-day day smoothie cleanse using whole foods. See the easy-to-follow guide here.
6. Eat green – Green is the color of the liver and of springtime. Eating young plants like fresh, leafy greens, sprouts, and immature cereal grasses can improve the liver’s overall functions and aid in the movement of Qi. Here’s an excellent post Spring Eating Tips Inspired by TCM. Don’t forget to enjoy the recipes at the end!
7. Try lymphatic massage – This gentle form of massage helps the body’s lymphatic system rev up while strengthening the immune system and increasing white blood cell count. Dry brushing your skin is one easy way to slough off winter’s dead skin and stimulate lymph drainage revealing a more vibrant glow to your skin. Our body’s largest organ should look and feel good. Ask your practitioner about ways you can incorporate this renewing practice into your wellness routine.
8. Plant some seeds – Activities for grounding and nurturing like planting in the spring can have a soothing effect on the mind and help anchor any rising Liver energy. Start planting seeds inside now or outside around the middle of May. Think you don’t have green thumb? Cultivating a windowsill herb garden requires little to no gardening skills and it’s a handy way to add fresh flavors to your meals. Veggies like kale, leafy greens and some flower bulbs actually prefer the cooler temperatures to early spring so don’t shy away from planting outside especially if there is no frost on the ground. Be sure to pick non-GMO seeds at Outpost Natural Foods or order them online. More information can be found here on picking your seeds.