Your Body and the Season of Spring

The benefits, the pitfalls and the solutions.

Spring is the best season; we feel light and bright as we bid farewell to the cold and gloom of winter. With the change in season, as the weather warms and the days get longer, we are able to spend more time outdoors and can expect an increase in energy and optimism.

However, the season of Spring can also have some not-so-positive impacts on our health, with seasonal allergies affecting our immune system and Spring winds making us feel irritable. By having a clearer understanding of the relationship between our bodies and the season of Spring, we can take advantage of the beneficial concordances to nurture our bodies and mind and to promote our well-being while being wary of potential Spring pitfalls.

Eastern philosophy follows a principle known as The Principle of the Five Elements which describes the cyclical flow of Qi (energy) and the balance of yin and yang. According to this principle, all change ‘in the universe and in your body’ occurs in five distinct stages with each stage associated with: a particular time of year; an element of nature; a pair of organs in the body; an emotion and a taste. These relationships or associations are known as concordances.

The Five Elements show us how the structures and systems in our bodies are connected to each other and how we are connected to our environment and to nature.

So, what does that mean for us in relation to Spring?

Spring is the season of the Wood element. Wood represents the energy of growth, change and birth. There is a lot of energy in the wood element allowing for much movement and progress both internally and externally. It’s a good time of year to clear any blockages we might have, to allow for clear flow of that useful Wood energy.

With all this energy, however, can come frustration and anger, especially when we do not feel aligned with what we are doing or are being constrained from growing. In Chinese Medicine, the emotion associated with Spring is Anger and anger is strongly linked to the primary organ of Spring, the Liver (and its buddy the Gall Bladder).

angry face

Anger taxes our Qi.

We all experience anger from time to time which is totally normal but when we sit in our anger or our temper rises quickly and gets the better of us, it can have a serious impact on our lives. It stops us from expanding, growing and moving on to better things.

With the winds of Spring stirring up our Liver qi, this can be a good time to reflect on what triggers our anger, whether our responses are valid and how we can adjust our lives in a way that reduces the stress and frustration we feel.

A good place to start, is with your liver.

When the liver is not in balance, it stops our liver energy (Qi) from flowing smoothly and this often causes us to feel frustrated, angry and stressed. We can also experience physical symptoms such as digestive issues, PMS, menstrual problems and a tight neck and shoulders. When the liver functions smoothly, physical and emotional activity throughout the body also runs smoothly.

For optimum health this Spring, the Liver is the organ to treat to a bit of a Spring clean and since the colour of Spring is green, it is probably not going to surprise you that a good place to start is by eating lots of fresh leafy greens. The liver loves green. Foods such as kale, lettuce, broccoli, beans, peas and sprouts will help get your liver qi moving.

While we are talking about food, according to the principle of the five elements, sour is the taste of Spring so add a scrumptious vinaigrette or some pickles to your greens and maybe choose to quench your thirst by adding some slices of lemon to your water too – the liver loves it!