In the rhythmic cycle of life, each phase brings its unique challenges and opportunities for growth. In traditional Chinese medicine, we often see winter as a time for deep internal processing and preservation. During these cooler months, the vital energies of the body are conserved, mirroring nature’s dormancy. This period is dominated by yin - a time for introspection, rest, and rejuvenation.
As we transition from this inward focus, it’s time to embrace a state of balance and harmony. The quiet yin begins to give way to the dynamic yang, inviting our vital energies to surface and flow freely. This shift isn’t just a change in season; it’s a transformation in how we engage with the world and ourselves. It's about releasing what we've accumulated – both the positive and the negative – and finding equilibrium in our emotional and physical selves. This period, akin to emerging from a cocoon, calls for a holistic approach to health, focusing on internal cleansing and emotional expansion.
With fifteen years of experience as a Doctor of Chinese Medicine, I'm here to guide you through this journey of renewal. In the following sections, I’ll share some of my favourite holistic health tips to help you achieve a harmonious balance, shedding the old to reveal a revitalised and vibrant self. Remember, you are worthy and deserving of this transformative journey! - Dr. Ilana Sowter
With so much being released internally, now is the time to drink plenty of filtered water with a pinch of Celtic Sea Salt (to replace the minerals lost from the filtration process) for optimum hydration. I encourage you to start your day with a glass of warm water and apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Always use a straw to prevent these acidic substances from affecting your tooth enamel. Try drinking your water from a copper bottle; it is anti-parasitic, benefits your blood health, and makes the water easier to digest. I thoroughly enjoy drinking my water from a copper vessel; it makes me feel like I am visiting ancient Mesopotamia.
Reflect on how your winter has been. Has it been relaxing, restorative, and filled with good rest? Or has it been stressful, a struggle, and a challenge due to the lack of sunlight and movement? Did you let yourself go? Your mind rules your body, and no matter how focused you are on sticking to your new spring routine, if your mindset is not in the right place, you will eventually fall off your spring wagon. Connect with yourself daily, even if it is just five minutes of journaling or reciting affirmations. Write out what you are willing to let go of in yourself and your life. What is blocking you? One of my favourite affirmations for releasing is, "I am ready to let go of all criticism. I release the need to criticise myself and others, and I am now willing to prioritize my health and well-being."
Do you ever experience fluid retention or swelling in your body? The lymph system is crucial for your immunity and stores toxins; it is like the garbage dump of the body. Since your body naturally releases toxins during spring, it is an excellent time to encourage your lymph system to release more so you can feel better in the long term. Bouncing on a trampoline for ten minutes a day, five minutes of dry brushing before a shower, and any form of movement are all great ways to get your lymph moving. If you have congestion in particular areas, a castor oil pack on your ribs and abdomen (you can alternate locations) can help move stagnant lymph. Infrared saunas and a visit to the hot springs are great for detoxing and removing toxins. Always stay hydrated.
“Spring: a lovely reminder of how beautiful change can truly be.” - Anonymous
Go to bed early and wake up early. The early riser is the champion of spring, for the early bird gets the worm! Sleep and wake-up routines are key to good health; your body loves knowing the rhythms so it can produce the appropriate hormones for falling asleep and waking up on point. Set a general time to go to bed and wake up that feels good for you. Prepare your room with good sleep hygiene practices: no phones in the bedroom, fewer electrical devices, no screens one hour before bed, turn off Wi-Fi at night and turn off the heater too. Surround yourself with relaxing music or affirmations, switch on the Himalayan salt lamp, and keep your room tidy so you can look forward to a great night’s sleep. Some wonderful bedtime beverages to try include golden milk (a heated blend of turmeric, herbs, and your favourite milk) and a mix of magnesium powder, ground cinnamon, and a dash of apple cider vinegar mixed with water, which supports deep and peaceful sleep.
You are what you eat, and spring is a time of cleansing. If there is a time in the year to be less strict with your diet, then winter is the time. You need a bit more food and energy to keep you going. So be gentle on yourself during winter and save the strictness for spring! This is a great time to avoid heating foods such as coffee, alcohol, sugar, fried, and roasted foods. You don’t need as much warmth now as you did in winter. Avoid foods that congest you, such as bread and flour. Focus on eating more fruits and vegetables, especially seasonal ones, which are more affordable and abundant. Asparagus, shoots, sprouts, fresh herbs, and green leafy salads are great additions to your meals for increased vitality. Cold-pressed juices, especially green juices, are excellent to enjoy too. Take time to chew your food and aid digestion.
Just like Venus emerges from the ocean, it’s your time to gracefully slip into spring. Regular exercise will get you there. Movement is a great way to shake off the stagnation of winter, promote circulation, and get you outside for light and vitamin D. It's essential to exercise in nature regularly as it helps shake off the indoor confinement and benefits your eyes and vision. When you are on a screen all day, your eyes can become overworked and strained. Walking in nature allows your eyes to relax and expand. Take in the greenery and also focus at different distances, like an ocular workout. Leave your phone at home and enjoy the freedom of hearing the sounds around you, take in nature, and have a moment of liberty to yourself. Choose an exercise that is fun and genuinely excites you.
Why can you suffer from hay fever in Spring? The energy in the environment influences all things in nature, including your body, to open, release, and remove toxins. In Chinese medicine, hay-fever is considered a state of excess heat that inflames and congests the respiratory system originating from liver energy. The more heat toxins within the body, the more likely you will react with this allergenic response. Avoid heating foods and anything that overheats the body and focus on movement. The goal is to alkalise, cool, and hydrate your body. Chinese herbs and acupuncture can support hay-fever symptoms, and some patients routinely seek
About By Dr. Ilana Sowter
Dr. Ilana Sowter is a women’s holistic health expert who empowers women to embrace their inner radiance and feminine energy. She achieves this through her expertise in feminine energy coaching, teaching effective communication, and behavioural principles. In addition to her coaching skills, Dr. Sowter is well-versed in acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and homeopathy.
As a strong advocate for natural beauty, Dr. Sowter incorporates her knowledge into her practice by offering cosmetic acupuncture and facial gua sha techniques for facial rejuvenation. She operates her clinic, Femme Vital, located in Melbourne. With over fifteen years of experience in this field, she holds an impressive educational background, including an M.App.Sc in Chinese herbal medicine, a B.H.Sc in Acupuncture, and a B.Sc.
Dr. Sowter’s holistic approach provides her patients with a comprehensive path to healing, encompassing various aspects of their lives. This approach has a profound impact on their physical well-being. She has shared her expertise through lectures and practice in Auckland, New Zealand, and Sydney. Dr. Sowter is deeply committed to connecting with her clients on an individual level, identifying their unique needs for transformation and healing.
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