Bouncing into Spring?
Published 3rd March 2021
At last we seem to have turned a corner and the days are a little lighter, brighter and warmer. The spring flowers have pushed through the morning frost and give us a little smile in the morning.
It always feels as though the winter has been long and dark. This year more than ever with the CV19 lockdown restrictions which have been in place for months. Not only has the sunshine been hiding, but we have not seen our friends and family either. So the long awaited summer cannot come quickly enough.
However, not all of us are feeling the joys of spring. Struggling to find a calm, positive mind space. Why do we not feel happy at the signs of the new season?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Spring is the season associated with the Liver (Yin organ) and Gall Bladder (Yang organ) and the element Wood. If we look a little more closely at what this means for our emotional wellbeing, we may find some answers.
The Liver holds the responsibility for the smooth movement of blood, qi and the emotions around the body. If it is not working adequately, then we can feel angry, irritable and frustrated. These emotions represent a kind of “bottling up” of feelings, which can then be released in a less than acceptable way, such as volatile outbursts, bad PMT etc.
It would not be unusual to feel this way at the moment. We have all been through an exceptionally difficult 12 months. Not only have we had our own personal circumstances to deal with, but people around us have interpreted the lockdown rules in their own way, which has caused some frustration. Indeed, not everyone has had the same lockdown experience – some have prospered, some have had simply the most horrendous nightmare.
Added to this, our usual coping strategies have been taken away. We can’t meet up with a friend and put the world to rights over coffee. We can’t go and hit the gym to take away our frustrations. Plus it’s been so cold, even going for a distanced walk has not been a lot of fun.
Spring is a Transitional Season.
Even though the sunshine is absolutely beautiful at this time of year and such a welcome sight. It is still pretty cold outside. To be able to move forward and clear our frustrations, we must treat Spring as a transitional time of year. We know that we would like to feel calm, happy, relaxed and at peace. So we use this time of year as a stepping stone to get there. Remove the pressure from yourself to be 100% now. Get a plan in place to achieve your happiness in a few week’s time and take the first few tentative steps.
A plan for Happiness
We can’t expect our circumstances or other people to make us happy. We can only find that from within ourselves. I think this starts with our physical and mental health. So how can we spring clean our minds and bodies?
- Nourish the blood
In TCM, the emotions flow on the blood. So for calm, smooth emotions, we need to nourish the blood. Eating fresh greens and maybe even adding dandelion (https://foodprint.org/blog/how-to-eat-dandelions/ ) for detoxification can help. It can be tempting to embrace summer foods too early, but remember that Spring still has one foot in Winter. Please keep eating warm, nourishing foods such as chicken bone broth, ginger and beetroot.
2. Calm the mind
Overthinking and worrying can consume the blood. We need the blood for the smooth flow of emotions, supplying the muscles and for the mind to settle on at night. It’s hard to stop worrying. It’s something that many of us have been practising for a long time. Rather than focusing on removing the source of worry (which is often impossible), I advise patients to add something into their day that they find calming. A balancing of the scales if you like. This doesn’t have to be anything special or expensive. A 5 minute step outside to breathe in the air; sing a song on the radio loudly, hug the cat. Find something that allows you to just focus on that activity for a short time. It won’t make you any less productive in your day, but acts as a “re-boot” for your mind. Lowering the stress level and allowing you to carry on in a better frame of mind.
3. Talk about your worries.
The physical act of verbalising what is on your mind can have a significant impact on how you feel. Often these thoughts whizz around your mind on endless repeat. They have nowhere to go, so they don’t move forward or find a resolution. I also think that you don’t need a human to hear your worries for them to diminish. You can tell the dog, a tree or the shower. Saying it aloud really helps – give it a go. And if you need some guidance on how to deal with your worries, please speak to a professional. A counsellor, a therapist, a psychiatrist; whatever is the most appropriate avenue. It may be the best money you have ever spent. Take some time to research what help is available in your area and chose someone that you like the sound of and has experience in what you are going through. Many of the most mentally tough people I know have sought help.
4. Move your body.
I’ve spoken a lot in this blog about how the emotions move on the blood. One of the simplest ways to get the blood moving, is to move. A walk, dancing in the kitchen, a yoga class, weightlifting on your patio (carefully). Whatever you can do on a regular basis will be good enough. Just get up and move.
Often people consider acupuncture as a treatment for physical issues. But all of the points have an emotional benefit too. Not only can acupuncture help to move stagnant blood and qi, but it can be used to help benefit specific emotions, for eg Spleen points to ease ruminating thoughts and worry, Liver points for frustration, agitation and anger. Acupuncture treatments also have the added benefits of
- allowing you to talk about how you are feeling (physically and emotionally)
- enabling you to spend some time alone (away from a hectic house filled with working from home and home-schooling)
- giving you permission to lie down, relaxing, being still, quiet and calm
- prioritising and focusing on your own health
Happiness is not a constant state of mind. It is natural to have good and bad days. A gentle rolling up and down of emotions. You cannot expect to know what true happiness is without ever experiencing sadness. They are two sides of the coin, like Yin and Yang: you cannot have one without the other.
If however, you are finding that the darkness is far outweighing the light, please seek help. The GP’s surgeries are busy, but they are not too busy to help someone. Please reach out, call me if you like. I’m always on the end of the phone.