Despite the recent snow storms, nature is beginning its slow transition from winter to spring. During this seasonal shift, many people report not feeling their best. Those with chronic conditions tend to experience more symptoms than usual. Common symptoms reported at this time of year include fatigue, trouble staying asleep, irritability, constipation, bloating, headaches and pain. Why does this happen at this time of year?
Chinese medicine relies heavily on nature for understanding these things. Think about a seedling that's been in the soil since the fall. Leaves have decomposed, allowing the seedling to have plenty of nutrients. The earth has frozen over, giving the seedling a layer of protection. Throughout winter, the seedling has grown, and now it's so big that in order to keep growing it has to push through the frozen earth in order to reach its fullest potential. Right now, we are in that stage of pushing through the frozen earth. It's tiring and the energy seems stagnant. Fatigue, trouble staying asleep, irritability, constipation, bloating, headaches and pain are all symptoms that come from some form of Qi stagnation. Given the unusual amount of stress over the last year, this transition may be more difficult than ever.
So how does one get their Qi moving so that this time of year becomes easier?
1. Get acupuncture. There's a specific protocol that's designed specifically for helping people move through this seasonal transition. When appropriate, I incorporate it into the treatment even if the symptoms listed above are not the primary reason for getting treatment.
2. Practice mindfulness. Irritability and trouble staying asleep can be some of the more difficult symptoms to deal with. Practicing mindfulness can help ease these symptoms. A few of my patients who have taken my Mindfulness 2 Part Introduction Series have reported using the techniques they've learned to successfully help them fall back asleep.
3. Sleep more. Adding 30-60 minutes of sleep for the next month or two can help ease the fatigue. As we gain more sunlight, this extra sleep won't be as necessary. Extra sleep can help the body build Qi, which can help move stagnant Qi.
4. Be productive. Doing something productive every day can make a big difference. These tasks do not need to be large. Simple things such as cleaning out a drawer or cooking food for the freezer or participating in one online class can be beneficial. Productivity moves stagnant Qi.
5. Lemony essential oils. Diffuse any lemony essential oils. Lemony essential oils are very uplifting and can improve mental clarity and ease worry. My favorite company, Snow Lotus, is offering a limited time 10% off all lemony essential oils. Use coupon code F83J176FW at checkout.
6. Move. Get up and move every hour. Stretch. Do 3 yoga sun salutations. Walk a few laps around your house. Sitting for long periods of time at your desk or in front of the television can stagnate Qi. Taking only 2-3 minutes to move at the top of every hour during your workday can increase productivity and improve your focus.
7. Avoid the news. Specifically, avoid watching news coverage about the upcoming anniversary of the pandemic. These news stories can be very triggering and can bring up emotions that can be difficult to work through. If you find yourself getting triggered, consider seeing a mental health professional in addition to getting regular acupuncture treatment.