Feeling weird lately? Here are 3 powerful ways to get with the program as the seasons change
We had a very mild winter this year here in Maryland, DC, and Northern Virginia. With no major snow falls or super cold days to keep us bundled up inside to rest and rejuvenate, we’ve just kept on keeping on all year. Now that the weather is warming up and we’re getting more rain, the early spring plants are beginning to grow and bloom. I’ve seen crocuses and tulips and daffodils growing this week, and I’ve even seen some flowers on the trees.
Whether we’re ready or not, spring is happening.
And many of my patients are finding themselves tired, dizzy, headachey, hollow, irritable, and confused.
This is a common problem to have as we shift from winter to spring. During the winter, we really need to take time to go inward and be still. When we take that time, we ensure that we conserve our resources while we’re getting less light from our environment (because even if it was a mild winter, the sun still didn’t come out as much as it does in the fall and spring). When we continue to work at the same pace even when the light cannot nourish us as much, we find ourselves tired and unable to pick up the pace as nature requires once the spring begins.
So how, oh how, can you make the indescribably difficult transition into spring after “missing” winter?
Rest, movement, and acupuncture.
Coffee doesn’t replace a good night’s sleep. In the same way, there’s no magic bullet that will help us to burst into the springtime. We need to take things easy going into the spring this year. The ancients teach us that we should base our sleep schedule on the sun (go to sleep when it gets dark outside, or at least lay down and stop doing “yang” activities, like work and play). According to some of the earliest Chinese medical texts, the way to health is to go to sleep early, rise with the sun, and meditate before using the restroom, having breakfast, and going for a walk. I would argue they would also recommend cutting out caffeine (I know, I know, but it really makes us burn the candle at both ends).
Meditation is one of the most powerful tools we have within ourselves for getting the most out of a restful moment. If you don’t know how to meditate, but you do know how to watch TV, I have great news for you! Meditation is the act of observation, so you do know how to meditate. It’s just a matter of turning the observer inward instead of outward. To begin meditating, I recommend finding a comfortable seated posture, setting a timer (start with 5 minutes, but see if you can work your way up to 15, 30, or even 60 minutes during deep restorative moments), and gently closing your eyes or maintaining a soft gaze at a spot on the floor about 10 feet away. Let the body breathe at its natural rate, and just be present to the breathing. As you breathe in, you can let your mind think, “I’m breathing in,” and as you’re breathing out you can let your mind say, “I’m breathing out.” I find that for the first several minutes of my meditation, my mind is frantically running around and yelling at me about all the things I need to spend time doing with my day. Whenever I notice that I’m inside of these thoughts instead of watching them go by, I come back to my breath. “I’m breathing in, I’m breathing out.” From this place, I see the thoughts happening, but I’m not totally within them. After this to-do list patter calms, I notice sensations in my body that are emotionally charged. I let my mind spend a moment or two naming the emotions, and wondering where th