Spring is a time for expansion and new growth, for connecting outwards. Yet, many of us living in the Bay Area are being advised to practice social distancing and are starting to work from home for the foreseeable future. In SF, our schools have closed for at least three weeks. These are very winter-y mindsets, and are a retrograde of where our energy is naturally moving as we head into spring. There are hundreds of great articles already written on how to best support your immune health during this time, such as this article by Elisa Song or these ones by Aviva Romm.
But what about our mental health as we check in with John Hopkin's current stats or decide it's time to stop going to the gym or start missing our more socially connected routines?
Finding and practicing activities that are in line with the season will help us keep moving forward, avoiding additional stress that arises from living out of harmony with the season.
All of the recommendations I link to or describe are generally applicable to anyone. If you are seeking specific herbal or nutritional support or high grade supplements, I am offering free 30 minute phone consults to anyone, including people I haven't seen in the clinic, who wants me to ship antiviral or respiratory support herbs (including antiviral herbs), immune tonics, or nutritional supplements to their home. Whether you or your loved ones need support around prevention, treatment, or recovery, natural medicines will help! You can reach me by email or phone, contact info at the bottom of this page.
Staying in touch with Spring
In traditional Chinese medicine, spring is seen as an expression of the wood element, which is also an expression of our spirit. In a healthy state, this spring-y aspect of ourselves is a tree unhindered in it's stretching and growth towards the sun. I picture an old oak on a sunny Sonoma hillside, plenty of sun, plenty of space to grow without external limitations. We need this time to push past the depths of winter, focus our intentions, feel strong in our new growth, and gather light and nourishment from our outer reaches to nourish the fullness of summer to come.
So, what to do?
Clean up our diets, bringing in even more fresh veggies
You have no excuse- you are at home!
This is the best time of year to do a cleanse or detox, whatever you like to call what you do to move the fat-bound toxins and hormones out of storage, while supporting your liver's effort to clean itself and your blood.
The fiber, vitamins, and minerals you get from eating a variety of veggies and herbs (yes- please eat during your cleanse!) are essential no matter what time of year, but especially when you are cleansing.
If you aren't making it to the grocery store, I highly recommend grocery delivery from Good Eggs. You can use this link for $25 off your first order. As a former farmer who is very picky about her produce, I must say, their veg quality and selection is rivaled only by Rainbow Grocery.
Finally, reach out to me if you want to join me on Within's spring cleanse, starting this weekend (or later if you like). The cleanse includes supplements that support your body's detoxification pathways, recipes, a huge shopping list of foods that are great to eat while cleansing, and a couple phone calls with me to track your progress. I do a cleanse every year at this time and love to share the process with you, my community.
Keep your juices flowing
What makes your spirit sing? Whether it's riding your bike, journaling, or... whatever, keep up with it, or some iteration of it that you can do outside or alone.
If your mood goes south when you don't get enough movement in your day, remember this is the era of hyper connectivity. YouTube has a wealth of resources, including yoga videos like this easy 23 minute hatha with Adriene. Or maybe yoga isn't your thing- there's hip hop workouts, HIIT sessions, oh, and laughter-inducing funny cat videos :).
Now here's a tip that you're not going to get from anyone outside of Chinese medicine- If your day has been packed and you didn't get a chance to exercise or explore your creativity, the fall back of a good ole to do list comprised of small achievable tasks is a crucial tool to employ, perhaps the most important one of all the ones I describe. Small achievable tasks are as simple as they sound, including things such as polishing your shoes, cleaning out a closet, rearranging your wall art, or throwing out old or unhealthy items from your pantry. I imagine that by the time the need to work from home blows over, we will all have our lives in much better order. Why small achievable tasks, you ask? They move that part of you that gets stuck, frustrated, or bored, what we practitioners of Chinese medicine call your liver qi. Peppering these tasks throughout your day is like pruning back ivy that has started growing over your beautiful oak tree, or spreading out your liver qi so it can gather inspiration anew from your environment.
There is no reason to stay indoors. In fact, Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient for proper immune system function and for mental health.
I had a fantastic stint in my back garden yesterday, pulling weeds while my little guy found bugs. If you have an outdoor space, it's a great time of year to plant greens, peas, tomatoes, carrots, and habitat plants like salvias and milkweeds.
Go to the beach! I especially love Pillar Point down by Maverick's for it's sheltered mild waves, great for kids, dogs, and tide pooling. Or, if you love a dramatic waves crashing kind of beach, check out Gray Whale Cove, also close to & south of SF.
Here's another Chinese medicine-specific tip, after staring at your screen all day, rest your eyes on a forest for maximum relaxation if exercise isn't possible. The blue-green of evergreen trees is the color we associate with spring and is an especially powerful stress mover this time of year.
So, what does this all boil down to?
Keep Actively Engaged in the things that Inspire you
This time of year is about new growth, inspiration, blossoming. Yes, we are going to be out of the office, in smaller groups, missing our larger community. There is no doubt about it- this will feel more stressful than it would have a couple months ago. We need to be more diligent about our mental health routines. Just as my kids are learning to wash their hands at appropriate times because of all this, we can learn to sync up with spring and embody the nature of this time of year, without the support of our larger community, just because it is the right thing to do for ourselves. We can focus our intentions for a bright vibrant creative self while we have the physical space to do so.
Grow Your Natural Medicine Cabinet
As a firm believer in natural medicine, I recommend you think of your home's natural medicine cabinet as an essential piece of your preparedness plan. If you are lacking in staples like Vitamin C or anti-virals targeting respiratory infections, now is a great time to stock up. I am happy to help and carry only the highest quality food based vitamins and practitioner-grade (i.e. stronger than what you can buy at a store) herbal medicines. Email or call to schedule a free 30 minutes consultation with me to get your natural medicine cabinet in shape!
Wishing you a vibrant spring,