Understanding Chinese Medicine: Spring is the time of year that our Liver energy begins to rise up and expand outwards. We start to feel more active, motivated and energetic and might even feel the need to give the house a spring clean! But, for those with imbalances in our Liver energy, this can be the time of year where Liver symptoms rise up! If Liver energy rises or we have too much energy in our heads then Migraine headaches, Vertigo, Dizziness, Nausea, Mood swings and PMS symptoms can all get worse. You may also notice yourself feeling a little more short tempered than usual or having sudden bursts of anger.
When Liver Qi gets “stuck” or blocked, we can feel stuck or blocked in many ways. This can manifest as emotional “stuckness”, inability to move forward, frustration and irritability. Other symptoms can manifest such as Joint Pain or Arthritis, Depression, Eye problems, tight muscles for example.
Shiatsu moves the energy: If any of this sounds familiar, receiving a Shiatsu treatment has a profound effect on calming the nervous system, releasing stagnation and stuck emotions and reducing stress. By giving Shiatsu around the head, neck and feet moves the Liver Qi down away from the head with gentle stretches of the body to release any stagnation.
In the meantime, these are some recommendations you can do yourself to help balance your Liver Qi.
Express your creativity: Start activities like singing, painting, dancing, sport, gardening, writing, cooking, learning to play an instrument, any group activity or interest you have a passion for that makes you smile. All these help keep your Liver energy flowing as they are a form of self-expression and enjoyment. I've started learning to play the piano which I'm really enjoying.
Move your body: Liver energy likes movement, if you have symptoms of Liver Qi stagnation this causes stiffness in the muscles and joints and problems with flexibility. Stretching exercises like yoga or practising a gentle form of moving meditation like Tai Chi or Qigong helps bring your focus back to your body and releases tension. Going out for regular walks or outdoor pursuits is one of the best ways to help your Liver.
Rest and Sleep: Resting properly at night allows our Liver to do its job better - to keep our energy and blood flowing smoothly throughout the body.
Diet recommendations: Eating dark green vegetables (kale, broccoli, spinach etc) are full of vitamins and minerals and nourish the Blood. It’s a good time to eat foods that are cooked more lightly and for less time. Reduce intake of coffee and hot, spicy foods as these can affect the Liver by stagnating Qi. Reduce intake of fatty or greasy foods if you find these hard to digest.
What's your vision: Wood energy (Liver and Gallbladder) is about your vision, creativity, decision making and planning in life. First it is felt in the heart as your passion of what you want to create and once the choice has been made, Liver energy gives us the energy to carry it through. In other words we are setting in motion our creative self expression of what we want to manifest in our lives.
Tip: Ask yourself what areas in your life you feel stuck and unhappy about and want to change, this is a great way to start to help you take your power back, move forward and feel happier.
Manage stress: We are emotional beings and anger is felt in the Liver. Sometimes we feel unable to express ourselves fully which causes longstanding feelings of repressed anger, such as resentment, frustration and irritability.
We do this either because we were taught at a young age that expressing yourself is bad or selfish and we should keep quiet or others know what’s best for us and make the decisions for us for example, all this is very disempowering but know you can change this, you have the power within you to make the changes. Shiatsu helps support you to make these changes.
The opposite of repressing emotions is to have outbursts of anger, rage and shouting aimed at others, that's why people who are really angry go red in the face. It's another way of expressing underlying or unresolved frustration and sadness.
Tip: Talking to a friend, journaling, and meditating are all ways to manage daily stresses so that they don’t build up and create bigger problems.
Other factors affecting Liver: If our emotions haven’t been expressed or addressed, a common coping mechanism could be excessive alcohol consumption or taking recreational drugs as a way for some people to feel relief from emotional symptoms. It’s used as a way of numbing out our unhappiness of how we feel inside.
The relief, however, is temporary. Instead of strengthening the body’s weaknesses so that the body learns to rebalance the energy on its own, these extreme substances cause further damage and leave the body feeling dependent on more of them to get the same feeling of relief. And remember, any extreme substance will set up further imbalance in the body, often covering up the original problem and leading eventually to more complicated physical and emotional health issues.
If you relate to or have any of the symptoms listed above or a feeling stuck and struggling to find a way forward in life, book a Shiatsu treatment and get your Liver energy moving and restore your love for life.