Cultivate Good Health This Spring

Happy first day of Spring!

Photo courtesy of Erin Cain

Spring is a time of birth, growth and renewal.  Most of us welcome the increased sunlight, warmth and energy.  It’s time to get out and check the status of the garden.  It’s also a good time to reevaluate our health and see if we need to make any changes in the way we tend to ourselves.

A garden has soil, water, plants, beneficial organisms (earth worms, good bacteria).  Add in sunlight, warmth, moisture, and you’ve got an elegant combination of elements necessary for the garden to grow and flourish.  The foundations of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are based on the Taoist principles that everything in the universe is connected and  influenced by cycles of nature, including the human body.  Ancient physicians observed nature and then applied the same principles to the human body.  Nature is designed to correct imbalances on its own, science calls this homeostasis.  Sometimes though, imbalance still occurs.  

Imagine what could go awry in your garden.  Then visualize your body as a landscape and the same diagnostic principles apply.  Here are a few examples:

Lack of moisture causes plants to wither and dry out.  Lack of moisture in the body might lead to dry skin, dry or sore throat, insomnia, hot flashes or joint stiffness.  

Too much moisture causes plant roots to rot or become damp and soggy.  Excess moisture in the body can cause weight gain, lethargy, unclear thinking, or poor digestion. 

When plants are healthy, they resist pests.  But when they are weak, lacking the proper nutrients, they succumb to the infestation of insects, bacteria or mold.   When the body’s immune system is strong, it will resist bacteria and viruses, but when weakened by lack of nutrients, insufficient rest or excess toxins, illness can hit us.  Proper nutrition or an herbal formula will tune up your nutrient levels and immune system.  

When a fallen tree or obstacle blocks the flow of a river, water gets stagnant in some areas and dries up in other parts.  Using that image as a metaphor for the way acupuncture meridians, or conduits of energy act in the body.  If a blockage occurs in one of our meridians, the flow of energy & circulation backs up and pain or disease results. 

What are some solutions?  Acupuncture removes any blockages you might have and redirects the flow of energy, blood and fluids (think weeding, aerating soil & installing an irrigation system). Herbal medicine or nutritional adjustments can ‘enrich your soil’. Movement & exercise such as Qi gong or Tai Qi or simply walking will turn over and aerate your soil and keep your energy, oxygen and nutrients flowing where they need to go.     

On an emotional & spiritual level, it’s a good time of the year to weed out the things, people, and bad habits, that are preventing us from growing and thriving. With Spring, often comes a renewal of motivation,  whether it be getting a project done that’s been sitting around all winter, or looking into a new hobby or activity you’ve always wanted to pursue.  Changing your environment, such as rearranging your living or workspace, can give you a fresh new outlook on life and kick start your motivation.  

Keep your spirits happy and healthy by including some quiet time each day for yourself with no distractions just to think, reflect, meditate, daydream or simply pay attention to your breathing.  This is important year-round, of course, but it is good to check in with yourself at the start of every season and reevaluate the health of your spirit.  

Doing things you truly enjoy and that are unique to the season help rejuvenate and nourish your soul and zest for life.  A few ideas: Color some Easter eggs  , take a trip up to the tulip fields, get out in your garden, or whatever reminds you that this season is special in its own way. 

Take home message:  Maintaining good health requires some effort.  Some of us are lucky to be born with good, low-maintenance genes, but most of us need to put in a little time to keep our bodies flourishing and growing. So each season, evaluate your physical and mental health and ask yourself if you are flourishing or whether your body’s garden is over-grown and ignored.  Care for your body the way you would tend your garden.  If this task seems too daunting, visit a health care practitioner who can help treat and coach you on a personalized program that will fit your lifestyle.  

 

Happy Spring!