1. Time to lighten up. After months of eating hearty, warming food it's time to start eating sprouts, fresh greens, pungent herbs to get the energy flowing. Fermented foods such as miso, sauerkraut, tempeh are also good to introduce into the diet. They add important probiotics to aid digestion and reduce inflammation. Another way to lighten up is to take advantage of lengthening daytime hours by waking earlier.
2. Get moving. During the cold dark winter months it is easy to stay cocooned inside watching Netflix. Spring energy is rising therefore take advantage of lighter, milder days to get up and out. Walk the seawall, ride a bike, play sports outside, anything to get your blood and Qi circulating while breathing in fresh air.
3. Cleanse. Change of seasons is always a good time to do a cleanse or detox especially transitioning from winter to spring. During winter months we try to preserve our yang energy by sleeping more, eating heavier foods, less intense activity, all of which can lead to stagnation. Qi doesn't flow as well, dampness or phlegm can build up due to overeating of rich foods. A cleanse doesn't have to mean weeks of drinking lemon water while grazing on salad and popping supplements. Follow these simple steps to jumpstart your digestive fire.
Pick the length of time that you can manage whether it's a day, a week or two or a whole month.
Make simple meals of steamed veggies, whole grains such as buckwheat, millet and quinoa.
Drink lots of water, preferably warm and add a little lemon or fresh ginger.
Limit use of oils and cut out dairy, processed foods, bread and baked goods, limit caffeine to a cup of green tea.
Add fresh herbs to cooking to enhance flavours.
If you are using a packaged detox program check with your health care provider that it is appropriate for you. Many have herbal supplements that are purging in nature to clean out the bowels. They can be too harsh for some people. Simplifying your food can be enough to give your digestive system a break and restart the fire.
4. Keep anger in check. That does not mean keeping frustrations and irritations repressed but rather acknowledging your feelings and checking in with yourself to see why am I feeling this way? Are these reasonable feelings? Are they the result of other imbalances such as poor sleep, hunger, hormones? Do I need to express these feelings in a safe way? Anger is often thought of as a negative emotion but in Chinese medicine it is the repression of anger (or any emotions) or the misdirected energy due to anger that can have a negative impact. Learn to recognize your anger and related emotions such as frustration, irritability and channel the energy that goes along with that into positive action or use it as a catalyst for emotional growth and discussion.
5. Balance the Liver. Liver is the organ system related to spring time therefore it is easy to get out of balance at this time of year. All the previous points are great for regulating the Liver system. In TCM the Liver system is responsible for regulating the smooth flow of energy in the body, which is why you want to have daily activity to get your Qi flowing. For people prone to Liver imbalances such as migraines, menstrual irregularities or PMS, eye problems, muscle cramps or twitches this is even more crucial. As spring approaches and energy starts to rise it is important to direct this energy towards physical activity or new projects to prevent it from becoming stagnant or scattered.