The Ancient Lifehack series draws upon the wisdom of 5,000 years of Chinese civilization for inspiration and ideas we can apply today.
According to ancient Chinese medicine and philosophy, everything in the world around us can be categorized as belonging to one of the Five Elements—metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. In Chinese, the term for the Five Elements is Wu Xing, which more accurately translates as “the five movements.” These elements are constantly moving and evolving, just like the human body and the seasons.
Spring, which is now upon us, is associated with the element of wood. Just as plants sprout and bloom, for humans, too, spring is a time of growth. In the West, we talk about spring cleaning, and Chinese also see spring as a time for removing the old and replacing it with the new. Spring is a time of movement and activity.
Springtime, and the element wood, are both associated with the liver. The liver cleanses the body and removes toxins, and so this is a good time to clean up our diets and work off any excess weight put on during the winter.
Here, then, are five Ancient Lifehacks for spring:
1. Sprouts and Vinegar
In the winter we focused on eating warmer, cooked foods, but in spring we can start to incorporate sprouts and green leafy vegetables into our diets. These help the liver detoxify, and also give us a light dose of wood energy. Sour is the flavor representing wood, so we want to add things like lemons and vinegar to our salads.
2. Just Let it Go
Just as the liver removes toxins from the body, it also deals with emotions—especially anger. To avoid energy stagnation that can exacerbate anger and other negative emotions, we need to take good care of our livers. Aside from vigorous physical activity, which helps course the liver’s energy and aids in soothing emotions, we can also do slow-moving exercises and meditation. This, too, will allow the body’s energy to flow uninterrupted.
3. Don’t Look
According to the Chinese medicine and the Five Elements, liver energy is connected to the health of the eyes. This is one reason why allergies and tearing happen more frequently in the spring. We want to make sure not to overuse our eyes and to let them rest, so be sure to take frequent eye breaks, especially if you’re in front of a computer a lot.
Tendons are also related to the liver and spring. So in addition to being active, we should stretch and work the tendons. This will put a spring in our step.