We are transitioning out of the yin, contractive, cooling nature of Winter (yes, even here in Hawaii), into the yang, expansive, warmer nature of Spring. This season in the theory of Chinese medicine relates to the Liver meridian. Our Liver in both Western and Chinese terms is one of the hardest working systems in the body. In Chinese medicine, it is the General of the troops, making sure all things flow smoothly and easily, both physically and emotionally. It is easily affected by the brisk winds of Spring. Because it is warmer now than in Winter, our pores are more open and we may be sweating. However, in the transition between Winter and Spring, the weather can be slightly erratic, changing quickly from warm to cold and back again. We need to keep ourselves covered up and warm during this transitional time, especially the neck. The neck is the primary place on the body where the wind enters, causing a “wind invasion”, or the “common cold” in Western terms. Wearing a light scarf, bandana or even just poppin’ your collar up can help to keep the wind from invading.
When the Liver is not running smoothly or is disrupted by the windiness of Spring, stagnation can occur. This may show up as poor digestion, headaches, dizziness, emotional upset, frustration, anger, anxiety or even muscle cramps.
Make time to nurture your Liver meridian and enjoy the bounty that Spring offers by taking a walk near the ocean, spending time in the country looking for the new blooms and growth that Spring inspires or just a moment in the evening enjoying the stars and constellations of the season.
The holidays are a fun time of year, but can be stressful with additional end-of-year work duties, trips to crowded stores, so many parties, and all those tempting desserts around. This can add up to frazzled nerves, exhaustion and poor digestion.
Here are some tips to help you sail smoothly through this time of year, while staying vibrant, strong and healthy.
1. Say No.
Most of us would love to just hang out with our family & friends all day and night, eat and drink without remorse and have no repercussions. This is unrealistic, obviously. Something’s gotta give. You might feel pressured to attend every party you’re invited to, but it’s not necessarily in your best interest.
Keep tabs on how you’re feeling and if you’re too tired to go or not feeling up to it, don’t force yourself out of a sense of obligation. Just be honest with your host. Most folks will be understanding, and if they’re not, are they really people you want to be around?
2. Food Awareness.
You might want a big slice of pie with way too much whipped cream on it, an extra large serving of buttery mashed potatoes or a double mocha/peppermint patty/eggnog latte.
It might taste good in the moment, but later, you may feel physically yucky and emotionally guilty for the overindulgence.
Berating yourself isn’t a useful solution after the fact. Plan ahead to have a smaller portion, really savor it and enjoy each morsel.
Let your everyday normal be a high quality, whole foods diet and when you have a treat, it’s truly a treat. After a while, your tastebuds will change and that pie won’t have the same draw as it once did.
On days you know you’re going to be eating out or going to parties, eat easier to digest foods such as soup, congee or other warm foods like steamed dark, leafy greens, winter squash or sweet potatoes.
3. Stay Warm.
During the Fall and Winter months, shorter days mean less sunlight, and the weather is chilly and windy, making us more susceptible to getting physically run down and catching a cold. In Chinese Medicine, the cold enters the body through the neck, so staying warm and keeping your neck covered when it’s breezy or rainy is important.
It’s also important to make sure to keep well hydrated with lots of room temperature water or a fresh ginger tea.
Ginger Tea recipe: http://tinyurl.com/gingertearecipe
It’s easy to be a slave to our to-do lists, especially when there are so many additional responsibilities at this time of year. Make yourself a priority and take a time out at least once a day, even if only for a few minutes. Stop by the beach to listen to the waves, schedule a massage or acupuncture appointment, attend a yoga class or just sit quietly with your eyes closed for 5 minutes. You’ll find that you’ll be better equipped to handle the stress with more grace.
5. Gratefulness Practice.
Oftentimes we get so caught up in doing too many things, and it can start to feel like a chore. This can create resentment and negative emotions. Aim to find at least one thing a day that you are truly grateful for, even if it’s as small as a perfectly made cup of coffee, a late season plumeria tree blooming or the chirp of a bird overhead.
Keep in mind that the holidays—and everyday, really—are about being present in the moment, taking care of yourself first so you have the energy to help others, and appreciating the little things. Everything else is optional.
All of us here at Longevity Health Center wish you wellness and happiness this holiday season and for the New Year.