I was admiring the morning sunshine earlier this week when the sky suddenly darkened and I found myself staring at a dramatic transformation of the weather into swirling wind, rain and snow..it was quite literally four seasons in one day! But these abrupt weather changes seem typical for this time of year, before the warmer and more settled weather holds.
In Chinese philosophy, we are seen as microcosms of the natural world and the changes that we observe in nature can be reflected in people too. Each season has a particular quality. Spring is characterized by a great impulse to push upward and outwards, "when the warmth of the sun returns and life pushes forth with great vitality". It is an opportunity to "refresh your vision and grow in new directions". However, the expansive and inconstant nature, particularly of early spring, can throw us out of balance until we can find a firmer foothold into the season, or at least until we can get out into the garden and warm up our sun-deprived bodies!
A tree can only grow from the stability of its deep roots and the nourishment that it has received. Likewise the transition from winter into spring can be inhibited by fatigue or low energy reserves, instability, depression, unexpressed emotions, or stress, which have the potential to put the brakes on this natural flow of creative energy. These factors can considerably impact on how our minds and our bodies feel at this time of year.
Spring is the time of year that resonates with the liver which, amongst its many functions, helps to cleanse the blood and remove toxic substances from the body, ensuring that our blood is healthy and our cells, muscles and tissues are nourished and well-fuelled. This is reflected in Chinese Medicine theory, which says that the liver is responsible for the healthy flow of energy around the body. Whenever we overeat or eat too many fried foods, or are exposed to stress the liver becomes overworked and overloaded.
It is the best time of the year to support the liver with acupuncture because Chinese Medicine has a conceptual framework that understands imbalances that are due to the liver not functioning optimally, and treatments such as acupuncture, massage, and nutritional knowledge, that can help to keep the liver happy and healthy. But there are also ways that you can support your liver too:
How to stay healthy during the Spring
A Healthy Diet
The liver will benefit from a de-congesting diet rich in green leafy vegetables. Apple cider vinegar is beneficial too because of its sour taste and nutritional benefits. Avoid foods that are too spicy, oily and rich, reduce red meat and roasting or frying to prepare food. Many of the heavier winter-sustaining foods that we may have wanted to eat during the long dark winter months are not going to be appreciated by the liver during the spring! Trying to wean myself from the simple doughy comforts of sourdough bread is taking herculean will-power!
In general, think green, as well as light, nutritionally-packed and easily digestible, as this will maximise your energy for growth, just like plants in spring stretching up and out up from the nourishment in their roots. Other foods that help to cleanse the liver include: garlic, apples, avocado, broccoli, lemons and limes, turmeric, cabbage and walnuts.
Freeing our Emotions
Just as foods can be congesting and place a strain on the liver, unexpressed emotions can create congestion internally. It is healthier to let our emotions flow during the spring when this push for release is felt inwardly. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine's Five Element theory, chronically unexpressed emotions, such as anger, frustration or guilt, can unbalance your liver functioning, which can lead to fatigue or depression. Being able to talk about how you're feeling and letting things go can keep your energy flowing in healthy ways, which inevitably helps you to move forward with renewed energy, creativity and purpose.
Movement and creativity
Other ways of easing stress during spring are by gardening, as this is very grounding physically and emotionally. Activities involving movement, such as dancing, yoga, qi gong or tai chi; learning a new skill, or taking up a new creative pursuit all help to keep our energy flowing in healthy and creative ways
How the 'liver' expresses it's unhappiness!
As you might imagine, symptoms that resonate with spring tend to have an upward or outward flowing tendency, such as headaches or eczema, but also any symptoms that are compounded by stress. Here are some symptoms that are characteristic of spring and suggest that you may need acupuncture to bring some balance to the liver system:
Headaches and migraine
Muscular aches and pains and stiffness
High Blood Pressure
Irritability and mood swings
Flare-up of eczema or psoriasis
Digestive problems, precipitated by stress, such as IBS or gastric pain
Heightened or unexplained Anxiety
Dry eyes, blurred vision or floaters
If you like more information about how acupuncture or acupressure massage might help you, please contact me on 07583-291616 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.