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Monday, June 21, 2021

Harnessing the energy of spring

In Chinese medicine, each season has a corresponding emotion and organ system with which it is associated. The emotion accompanying spring is anger in all its various shades – including frustration, resentment and irritability – and the related organ system is the liver.

Maybe it’s become amplified because of the year we’ve been having with COVID-19 (not to mention the bushfires and hailstorm), but I’m really noticing that this spring there seems to be more crankiness in the air!

Spring in nature is a time of expansion and awakening, exemplified by the bare limbs of trees throughout Canberra bursting into blossom and leaf. Just as the sap rises in a tree, so too our vitality stirs in spring. You might be one of those hardy souls who braves dark and the cold to exercise all through winter but for the rest of us, as it warms up, we go outside more, we stretch and move, and our blood and lymphatics start to flush out toxins to be metabolised in the liver as well as the kidneys. Think of that expansive, uplifting, irrepressible vitality trapped in a cage and now you have a metaphor for what happens when vitality is stifled and stuck.

Your mood in spring is a useful barometer of your overall vitality. If you’re feeling extra cantankerous, like a bear that’s just been woken from hibernation, then it’s a clue that your liver is working overtime. Perhaps you’re also suffering with hayfever, headaches, skin breakouts or insomnia – all signs of a liver that is under the pump. No wonder you’re feeling tired and cranky!

Luckily, it’s not too hard to help your liver out. Start with a clean-up of your diet, swapping out greasy takeaway or highly processed foods for fresh fruit and veges, lean protein and whole grains. Switch out alcohol and coffee with filtered water to give your system a breather. We not only digest food, we ‘digest’ all the events and experiences of our life, which is why prolonged stress can also impact the liver. To combat the build-up of tension, get your body moving more and loosen up those tight muscles with some stretches or a massage, or put on your favorite music and dance around the lounge room. It’s hard to stay in a bad mood when you’re dancing!

Finally, the energy of spring is one of growth and transformation. Vitality that becomes stuck leads to crankiness in the short term, but longer term will manifest as despondency or depression. You might consider what needs to change in your life to enable you to feel less stuck. Start with something small and achievable in an area of your life that you have control over and simply take action. With the irrepressible vitality of spring working like a breeze at your back, you may find you can achieve more than you think.

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