Into the Light
Without Winter, there would be no Spring. Thank you, but we are ready for a change now.
As sure as day follows night the Earth tilts towards the sun at Spring Equinox shaking off the heavy cloak of Winter, releasing us from hibernation and bringing the promise of lighter days ahead.
March 20th, at 09:37, 2021 sees the astronomical start to Spring and it is also the first day of the astrological new year.
Spring Equinox is when we have equal length of day and night, when the sun is directly over the equator. This has been celebrated by many religions and cultures from Ostara, the neo-pagan celebration to Nowruz , the Iranian/Persian celebration to the colourful Holi in India.
Just as we begin to feel brighter and lighter so too does Nature. Have you noticed the catkins and the delicate softness of newly emerging leaves? The birds too are getting into full Spring mode preparing nests and singing their little hearts out.
Pausing and seizing this time affords us an annual opportunity to start new projects, set new intentions or maybe revisit the goals and intentions you set at the start of the year in January.
For me, I have set myself the task of getting into the garden to tend to the raised beds and prepare them for the arrival of the plug plants I have ordered. I will add in an organic manure to nourish the soil which will in turn give my plant-lets a head start and provide me with organic and toxin free salads, herbs and vegetables for the summer and autumn.
Whatever the plan, we must also tend to ourselves and that might involve a little digging, in the form of journalling or reflection; composting, getting rid of the old, be they habits or some de-cluttering and adding in nutrition, to allow us to blossom and grow with the light.
Social media and advertising would have us believe it is necessary to do a cleanse or a detox and this is fine if it is what you feel you need to do. I am not in the mindset to do a full on cleanse but rather I will pay more attention to my daily habits and see what I can add in or improve rather than the added pressure or stress of adhering to a plan that I may not stick with.
Some simple tips to improve your 'internal garden' with a gentle morning routine.
Wake up 10 or 15 minutes earlier and do not go into autopilot and switch on your phone or laptop. Allowing space and silence for ourselves in the morning is a gift to help keep the mind still. A busy 'monkey mind' is detrimental to our wellbeing, so no mindless scrolling. It simply wastes your precious time and what you see or read in the morning will set your mindset for the day.
With this extra time gift yourself some meditation, start slowly, maybe twice a week for 10 or 15 minutes. I love Insight Timer with over 70,00 free meditations, music for anxiety, sleep and much more.
Start to increase your hydration. Being properly hydrated is simply one of the most fundamental and easiest things to do to support wellbeing. If you struggle with this, add in an extra large glass a day. Set a reminder to drink a glass an hour. Adding in some slices of lemon or a little apple cider vinegar may make it more palatable and will aid digestion too. When we are properly hydrated all our organs work, our brain functions better and our lymphatic system and kidneys and can get rid of toxins.
Take your glass of water or a mug of warm water and get grounding in your garden, just 5 minutes. Walking barefoot on the dew covered grass and tuning into the morning light , blocking out the sounds of traffic, tuning into birdsong will calm your central nervous system, switching on your parasympathetic nervous system, which is our 'Rest and Digest' mode.
When we shower we wash away what happened yesterday, we can start anew. Mindfully showering with toxin- free natural products we can benefit from the sensation of the water on our bodies and breathe more freely with the steam. Finishing the shower with a 20 second blast of cold water is fantastic for stimulating the vagus nerve helping to keep us in parasympathetic nervous system mode.
A nourishing breakfast with adequate amounts of healthy fat, protein, fibre and carbohydrates will balance blood sugar, keep hormones stable and allow us to do our work with a clear and focussed effort. Smoothies, or smoothie bowls are great for warmer days or fruit salad with nuts and seeds and dairy free yoghurt is a lighter alternative to porridge, cereal and toast.
A word on caffeine. I love coffee, but I limit myself to one a day, sometimes two but never after 2pm. Caffeine, also in chocolate and fizzy drinks, has a long half life. That means, that half of the caffeine that you consumed can be still in your system 6 hours later. And it can take up to 10 hours to be eliminated fully from your body. So, if you are hormonal or are having trouble sleeping then you may need to look at your caffeine intake.
Really enjoy the outdoors..make time to get out. Get some sun on your face and arms to start making Vitamin D. Allow your eyes to get some light, without sunglasses, and not looking directly at the sun. This helps to set our Circadian rhythm, our biological internal clock, and will this help regulate the sleep-wake cycle.
Written by Patricia Alexander-Bird Dip NT, BANT, CNHC
Nutritional Therapist and Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner, Health and Wellness Coach and Yoga Teacher (in training).