For many people, stress is not an easy thing to handle. It can manifest as headaches, irritability, insomnia, digestive problems, and many more. Stress is especially difficult to handle in the springtime and most will feel it’s affects.
From a Chinese medical point of view, the spring is associated with the liver system. In the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic (黃帝內經), a metaphor is used where the liver is associated with a general in an army. Just like a general, the liver must assure everything, in this case the qi of the entire body, is running according to plan and smoothly through its necessary course. As it’s the springtime, everything must be moving upwards and outwards, after being more dormant in the winter. Stress, however, has the opposite affect; it creates pressure, pushes the qi inwards, and prevents smooth flow. Thus, in the springtime, your worst enemy is stress.
So, how does one counteract this stress?
Unless you can just quit your job, throw off all of life’s burdens, and live a carefree life, then you must find a way to deal with it. Fortunately, there are ways! Here are a few tips to help:
- Find time to get away from it all and relax. Many people, especially those of us living in the city, never get away from it all when the time presents itself, i.e. the weekends. Most keep busy with other activities and never truly relax. So, get out of your routine, turn off your cellphone, go away to someplace that is truly relaxing, the beach, the mountains, hot springs, the lake, and leave those other distractions, especially stressful ones, away.
- Exercise, exercise, exercise. Make sure you are getting your circulation going and getting your body to sweat. This will keep the qi moving smoothly in your body as well as remove excess heat that may get stuck in your body (heat gets stuck in the body due to stress, diet, as well as the increase in temperature in springtime).
- Go to bed before midnight, at the very latest. In Chinese medicine, the liver stores the blood from 1 am – 3 am. Your body needs to be at rest in order for the liver to store the blood and then send it out in its daily circulation. If this process is inhibited, it will negatively effect the smoothness and relaxation that your body needs.
- Keep your mind from overthinking, especially at night. This is particularly difficult for most people due to all of our habits. One way to prevent this is to not do anything too stimulating at night. For many, this will be work, so keep work activities to the daytime or early evening. Television and computer activities are the other; these do not relax the mind but give more stimulation to the mind and also the eyes. Meditation, qi gong and going for relaxing walks are other ways to calm your mind.
Stress is a part of all of our lives. The key is how one deals with stress. If you can find effective ways to deal with it, then you will keep the pressure from building up and influencing your life and health.