Articles,  Guidance,  Holistic Nutrition,  Lifestyle,  Self Care,  Wellness

Spring Awakening | Tips to Unfurl + Flourish

Oh glorious Spring Awakening! The season of returning light, unfurling nature, and renewed energies after a long winter rest.

Spring is filled with increasing energy, buzzing around us and vibrating from the earth in a burst of new life and colour. It can feel exciting and increase productivity, or for some, it may increase anxiety and irritation.

First, I’ll gently remind you that Spring is meant to be a transition, not one leap from winter rest to summer flight. Spring invites us to continue to root downwards as we slowly stretch and grow up and outwards towards to sun, waking to the sound and rhythms of the earth.

Read on for tips to help you unfurl and flourish towards your big plans and wildest dreams this spring!

*Please note that the suggestions listed in this post are for general education, and may or may not suit every person and constitution. Use your judgement, and for best results consult a trusted practitioner for guidance!*

Spring awakening, plum blossoms, photo by Emily Harding, copyrighted

Spring in Eastern Medicine Traditions

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring relates to the liver (yin) and gallbladder (yang) meridians, the element wood, and the colour green. Developmentally, spring relates to birth and upwards growth.

The wood element brings the energy of becoming who and what we want to be – through birth, germination, creativity, imagination, passion, growth, determination, and hope. It is through wood energy that all living things are able to manifest their authentic nature and purpose. (See more about TCM 5 Element theory here).

The liver system filters, cleanses and nourishes the blood, so in TCM is associated with the free flow and renewal of blood and qi throughout the body. Outwardly, this rise in cleansing energy manifests in spring cleaning, spring cleanses, and launching into new beginnings.

In Ayurveda, spring is a mainly Kapha season with Pitta slowly coming forth. Kapha dosha is of the earth and water elements. (See more about Dosha theory here). We tend to accumulate these heavier attributes during the winter months and then spring liquifies it, much like melting ice and snow. To support proper elimination of this excess water, we can balance with attributes that are light, dry, warm, and a little sharp.

I feel we can learn so so much from the traditional and cultural medicines used by our ancestors all over the world. While my current medicinal training flows mainly from traditional Chinese and Indian cultures, I continue to learn and grow – I would love to hear from you what seasonal practices and medicines your culture uses!

Spring awakening, daffodils in the rain, photo by Emily Harding, copyrighted

Balancing Your Spring Awakening

The beauty of the human body is that it naturally seeks homeostasis (balance), and we generally don’t need to alter this process. However, living big has its maintenance requirements! We need to keep our tanks filled and batteries recharged, and should absolutely prioritise regular selfcare so that we can continue to live life to the fullest!

Spring is a big transition phase, where we are busy assimilating the deep rest and nourishment of our roots in winter into spiralling upward growth and movement towards summer production.

Out of Balance

Spring may enhance the presence of irritation and anger, shouting, poor judgement, narrow vision, and repressed tears. You may find chronic conditions manifest or worsen in spring, such as thyroid, hormone or endocrine imbalances, IBS or dyspepsia symptoms, muscle or nervous system pain, neurological issues, epileptic episodes, etc. Or, you may find more subtle and transient symptoms appear, such as lack lustre hair and nails, acne breakouts, shifts in your menstrual cycle, headaches, eye fatigue, slower recovery from activity, etc.

In Balance

You will likely feel clear, calm and energetic. You might exhibit good judgement and easy decision-making, higher creativity, and be a planning and organizing machine! The gentle pull to “spring clean” is representative of balanced liver-gallbladder energy. You may experience a little spring “glow” as you radiate purpose and clarity in everything you do. And, as life will throw curveballs at no notice, you will find yourself better able to observe emotional situations and approach them with courage when the time is right.

I find an especially good indicator of wood element imbalance is how you feel in the wind. Go for a walk on a windy day and check in with how you feel and what thoughts fill your mind – if you feel edgy and irritated you are likely a bit imbalanced, while if you feel light and energized, you are more likely attuned to the season.

Unfurling ferns, photo by Magda Ehlers, sourced from

Slowly Unfurl + Expand

TCM Circadian Clock

TCM Circadian Clock

The wood element and liver-gallbladder time sit between 11pm and 3am. This makes sleep your best friend for supporting detox, cellular repair and building new blood cells!

Gallbladder energy is working hardest between 11pm-1am, aiding digestion. Liver energy is highest 1am-3am, aiding the brain in processing your ideas and turning them into plans.

Yes, all this happens while you sleep!

Attuning to Spring

Continue to choose warm and cooked foods to stay rooted, and start to incorporate more light and raw plant foods. This will allow you to take advantage of their rising spring energy without getting too cold. Look to the tender green shoots coming up around you for inspiration – nettles, chickweed, sorrel, miner’s lettuce, cleavers, and of course, dandelion greens!

Cooking methods might start shifting from “low and slow” soups and stews. Try shorter cooking times at higher temperatures, such as sauteing, stir frys, blanching, and steaming. Eating a combination of cooked and raw foods in a meal is generally best for spring.

The main taste attribute to focus on is sour or astringent which enters the liver and gallbladder. Bitter flavours are going to continue to be supportive for drying out excess water left over from winter. Next, especially if winter has left you feeling heavy and sluggish, include some pungent (spicy) to support liver function, digestive fire, lung/mucous clearing, and keep the blood moving. If you are a deficient or dryer constitution, adding a little sweet to pungent foods will support attunement to spring.

The simplest and most effective way to make this shift is to focus on the inclusion of these seasonally supportive flavours. This will invariably reduce the less supportive flavours, such as salty and sweet. It is less common that you would need to completely restrict a particular flavour.

Note: your individual constitution should always be considered ahead of seasonal recommendations! Use your judgement and notice how certain flavours/foods/seasons affect you, and ask a qualified practitioner for advice.

Pocket Chickweed - a sure sign of spring! Photo by Emily Harding, copyrighted
A pocket full of chickweed – a sure sign of spring!

Supportive Foods for the Liver + Gallbladder

Foods to Include

Vegetables: dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, chard, romaine, etc), bitter greens (chicory, endive, dandelion, escarole), tender spring greens (nettle, tender lettuces, chickweed, etc), sprouts (broccoli, pea, radish), green herbs (parsely, cilantro, basil, rosemary, sage, dill, mint, watercress, purslane, etc), rhubarb, asparagus, green onion/scallion, leek, radish, broccoli, seaweeds, celery, fennel, artichoke, beet, carrot, parsnip, plantain, mushrooms, onion, garlic, tomato, pickles, cabbage, cauliflower

Fruit: sour apple, crabapple, sour plum, citrus (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit – include peels!), hawthorne berry, rosehips, strawberry, huckleberry, cranberry, raspberry, blackberry, grapes, sour cherry, pomegranate, green olives

Herbs + Spices: All (depending on your constitution)

Meat: liver, chicken, turkey, seafood, freshwater fish, lamb, venison, bison, beef, bone broth

Dairy: egg yolk, yoghurt, fermented dairy, goat cheese

Legumes: lima, green lentils, mung dahl, green pea

Nuts + Seeds (soaked/sprouted): flax seed, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, pistachio

Grains (soaked/sprouted/sourdough): amaranth, millet, quinoa, rye, long-grain rice

Other: vinegar, molasses, raw honey, olive oil

Drinks: fresh water, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in warm water, herbal tea (nettle, hops, tulsi, hawthorne, hibiscus, chamomile, lemon-ginger, dandelion/burdock root), white and green tea (camellia sinensis), fresh vegetable juices (drink with a meal to avoid glycemic issues)

Scent + Body: rose, bergamot, geranium, eucalyptus, rosemary, citrus, cardamom, ylang ylang, etc. Diffuse or use topically in a base of jojoba or rosehip oil.

A Simple Tea for Spring

While nettle tea is a top choice this season, another tea I’m enjoying lately incorporates all three flavours for spring support – sour, bitter, and pungent.

In your favourite cup (bonus if it’s green!), add:

  • a couple slices of fresh ginger root
  • a big wedge of lemon
  • a few drops of gentian tincture (or your favourite bitters blend)
  • hot water

Steep 5 minutes and enjoy before a meal to stimulate digestion and support the liver-gallbladder. Adjust the amount of each to focus on the flavours you personally need most (ex: less pungent, more bitter, etc).

More Tips to Flourish with Spring

Of course, we must nourish ourselves with more than food! Living holistically supports health and healing through all the layers.

  • Root and streeeeeetch. Spring growth requires strong roots – slowly increase movement in a way that feels nourishing to you. I especially love Qigong in spring! Try this practice for nourishing Wood Element. Walk, get outside, try breathwork and yoga nidra, rebounding/bouncing, and plenty of stretching.
  • Support anger with physical release. Try martial arts, HIIT, and dance. Choose movement that requires controlled movements (to support the liver), but also gets you a bit breathless to help release what isn’t serving you. Just be cautious of pushing too hard and becoming deficient.
  • Keep your wind gates warm! Watch out for unpredictable weather transitions! One day may be sunny and warm, then the next will be rainy and windy – dress appropriately, stay warm and dry to avoid succumbing to those spring break colds and flues.
  • Get natural light in your eyes in the morning! Especially with Daylight Savings shifting our mornings back into prolonged darkness, seek the light in the AM to attune your circadian rhythms and improve mental sharpness and clear vision. This is vital if you are prone to low mood or depression, or are feeling imbalanced wood element this spring.
  • Clean out your space. Keep external environments tidy and clear of excess to support clarity of internal environments. Prevent overwhelm by choosing one small corner, shelf or closet at a time, or ask a friend to help you!
  • Journalling, gratitude practices and meditation. These practices can help you find free flow, supporting you to work through heightened emotions of frustration, anger, and sadness.
  • Creativity, dreaming, and vision boards. Spring is the time to start taking action on those winter dreams. Plan your garden, make a vision board, pick up the paintbrush, make music, write – lean into the energy of spring awakening and reach outwards to your goals.
Spring Wishes

Thank you for reading along on this journey into SPRING AWAKENING!

I’m wishing you the loveliest nourishing and vibrant spring season filled with new opportunities and clarity of vision. If you found any of these tips supportive, let me know in the comments, or share with a friend!

If you need some extra nutritional support this season, I would love to help you! You can embark on your healing journey here. I’m looking forward to connecting with you soon.

Did you love Spring Awakening? Try these spring recipes next!

Dandelion Basil Pesto

Orange-Scented Rhubarb Compote

Shiitake + Nettle Chicken

Radish Mint Salad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *