I don’t know that I’ve ever been as excited for spring to arrive as I was this year. We’ve all been staying home and staying safe, but now, as the days grow longer and the weather warms up, the world is starting to open up again. That reopening comes at the ideal time in the year, since spring is a season of natural change, rebirth and growth. But change – even when it’s positive – can be challenging. And growth takes time and energy. After a year spent bouncing between near-constant change and a Groundhog Day-like monotony, conjuring the energy to adapt to a new “new normal” can feel daunting.
In this month’s round-up of quick wellness tips and tricks, let’s look at how we can embrace change, find inspiration and make positive changes without spending time, money and energy we just don’t have right now. In March, we looked at our health in a holistic way, covering physical, emotional, spiritual and social health and well-being. This month, we’ll cover those same four areas, and we’ll take some inspiration from the balance found in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
In TCM, spring is also a time to reset and change. And, since balance and maintaining equilibrium are the goals, those resets and changes have a way of feeling really manageable (unlike harsh cleanses or fad diets that want you to uproot your entire life or throw out everything in your kitchen). I’m no expert in TCM, but I’ve been fortunate enough to have learned about the power of these practices through interactions with trained acupuncturists, herbalists and TCM doctors. (If you’re interested, seek out a practitioner near you – look for those with personal and educational roots in TCM and Eastern philosophy.)
The tips I’m sharing this month are all about finding ease amid change and starting new habits that’ll give you a fresh start.
Physical wellness: Start with greens.
I learned this tip from a colleague who’s an active dad of two. Even in their plant-based home, they sometimes struggled to finish their evening salad. To get everyone to eat more greens, they started serving salad first, while the rest of dinner cooked.
I love this idea and brought it into my own life. I’ve also expanded it beyond simple salads. Veggie side dishes are usually quick and easy to prepare. Once I have the main dish simmering on the stove or baking in the oven, I throw one together. Sometimes we don’t even wait to sit down to eat together before having our salads or veggies. I’ve been known to eat mine standing at the counter while putting the finishing touches on the meal. It’s just enough food to take the edge off “hanger” but won’t “ruin your appetite” like a few handfuls of chips would (been there, done that!).
This time of year, greens and sour foods are part of the TCM repertoire. You don’t even need a real recipe to prepare the tender, tasty greens you’ll see at the farmers market and grocery store.
Give them a wash, then add a dash of olive oil to a hot pan. Add some minced garlic, shallot and/or ginger. Once they’re fragrant, add the greens. Give them a quick toss, cover with a lid and cook until done to your liking. Squeeze on some lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. The lemon balances the greens nicely, and it’s a simply, healthy yet satisfying way to eat more greens.
Other simple sides:
- Steamed broccoli drizzled with balsamic
- Bok choy with rice vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil
- Roasted cauliflower with fresh herbs and lemon
Emotional wellness: Plan to avoid frustration.
I’m a writer (obviously). My husband is an engineer who prevents and solves breakdowns. As you might suspect, he’s a really great person to have around during stressful times or when things go wrong. One trick I’ve learned from him is to not waste energy and time complaining about problems instead of actually solving them. It’s small, I know, but it works. The emotion associated with spring in TCM is anger, which goes hand in hand with frustration. Stressing, complaining and worrying take energy, and if you’re dealing with fatigue, you don’t have any extra to spare.
Over time, I’ve developed a system of applying his engineering solutions to everyday life. At work, he prevents breakdowns by planning ahead and doing routine maintenance. At home, we try to do the same. Fewer problems slip through the cracks (like running out of cat food, forgetting to mail a bill or replacing the water filters) when we plan ahead and delegate. A shared online calendar and a dry erase board lighten the emotional labor needed to stay on top of all the little things that can snowball into frustrating problems.
Spiritual wellness: End-of-day gratitude
Toxic positivity does us no good and can actually backfire – so we can let go of the “good vibes only” or “just be happy” outlook. If things are not OK, you don’t have to sugar-coat life and pretend they are. But, at the same time, measured doses of gratitude can help and even change your brain.
You don’t have to spend all day doodling in your dedicated gratitude journal or share it on social media. (Who has time for that?) And your gratitude doesn’t have to be something major or long-lasting to “count.” My favorite ritual lately? Just before bed, I silently say thanks for one thing from the day.
Some recent ones:
- I found the missing part to my blender, so I didn’t have to buy a replacement.
- My husband took out the recycling and compost.
- The perfect grocery delivery time was available yesterday.
The best time for this practice? Right after you place a Hello Dreams™ sleep strip on your tongue. As the Melatonin & Calm Down™ proprietary blend of herbs melt, offer your gratitude. Then, feel your day melt away as you drift toward deep slumber.*
Social wellness: Give a little gift.
One of the sayings we hear often is “we’re all in the same boat.” Not exactly true. Some of us are in tiny dinghies. Others are relaxing on yachts. Sometimes, we feel like Ever Given and our obstacles the blocked Suez Canal. We’re all experiencing hardships, but our lives and situations are different. After a choppy start to the year, my “boat” is in calm seas. But others who are close to me are now weathering their own series of storms.
This might seem small, but since we can’t quite gather in person as easily as we’d like, a small gift can go a long way to show someone you’re thinking of them when things are tough for them. If your person lives close, leave a really nice chocolate bar for them or bake a batch of muffins. It gives my mood a boost to share a little something special with someone I care about, especially when I can’t give them a hug.
Those are a few of the simple ways I’m finding balance this month. Remember, your health and wellness routine doesn’t have to be perfect. The little things add up, which is why NuTraditions makes it so easy for you to bring ancient herbal wisdom into your busy modern life!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.