In the times of Rising Sap


Spring is a time when we instinctually become aware of the mysterious momentum that runs through the Earth. In Spring, we become more keenly aware of what we would like our lives to look like during the long days of “warm time”, the time of activity- the season of “doing”. Spring is a time of promise and new beginnings for the days to come.

A good therapist friend of mine, Corey Brown*, shared with me that statistically, Spring, is also the time of year when anxiety symptoms tend to be the highest. My first reaction was “ WHAT? REALLY?!? I thought it was just me!” But upon further reflection, it made some serious sense.

In Chinese Medicine, Spring is associated with the element of wood. Picture a live tree in Spring -the rising of the sap, the swelling of the buds, and the sturdiness of the trunk. This is a time of significant internal movement that does not always express itself immediately with a dramatic external action. The young leaves will burst forth from the buds, but externally they appear to be almost infinitesimally moving.

Spring can feel like the last days of gestation. “Get here already!”, we are screaming in our heads, “Happen NOW!” In Chinese medicine, Spring is also associated with the energies of the liver and gallbladder, which when imbalanced can manifest as frustration, anger and you guessed it… anxiety.

I took a step back and really viewed my own Spring experiences. I realized, I too, am more prone towards anxiety symptoms and less depressive ones as Spring’s arrival is imminent. Once I was able to place these, at times, overwhelmingly itchy, “rising of the sap” type feelings, I came to understand, and accept, my Spring time anxieties a little better.

So- awareness is great and all but, when I am feeling anxious, being aware of it is really not the issue- finding relief is. So when the arrival of racing thoughts and the accompanying feelings of jittering fear show up for me, I have put a three step plan into place.

The first part is immediately doing a self Reiki treatment. I place my hands wherever I am physically feeling the anxiety symptoms most acutely in my body. For me, it is often the throat and solar plexus areas, which is the spot right under your rib cage, where your stomach lives. These treatments can last for one to 10 minutes, whatever I have time for. For a chronically overscheduled person such as myself, sitting at a red light is a perfect time to take a deep breath and place my hands for 60 seconds… I can’t GO anywhere- but I can DO something.

Even if you are not Reiki trained, try taking a deep breath and placing your hands on your heart your solar plexus and just saying some reassuring words to yourself, like “I hear you and this feeling is uncomfortable but we are okay.” And take another deep breath.

Close your eyes for a second- do this now. Where are you at? How is your body feeling?

Part two of my plan involves physical movement- basically a quick discharge of that extra energy. Again, one minute to an hour, depending on what I have time for and am capable of at that moment. Sometimes, I just don’t have it in me to go for a 4 mile run… but I can go out my door and walk up the street for a block and back again. Or in full disclosure, I sometimes pace around with my hands on my heart and stomach, mentally chanting reassurance to myself. BONUS: Reiki and movement all in one!

And third, but just as important for me personally…. I find music to fit my mood. Somehow, it helps me validate and normalize what I am feeling is also felt by other people. It helps me embrace my current, high anxious state, lean into it bit and unknot the parts of me needing expression. Also, moving to music is easier than listening to my own foot falls. My indoor pace can turn into a little swaying dance or my easy walk can turn into a kick ass workout. Music is a tremendous bridge for me. (Hello, triple play: Reiki, movement AND music!)

Anyone who knows me, even a little bit, knows I am a passionate warm weather lover. My impatience, frustration and anxieties about the arrival of warm weather can truly pose challenges for me. But I am finding, that day by day, we are inching closer to the “warm time” and my management efforts are making the wait just a little more bearable.

(* Editors Note: Above I stated that there was an increase in anxiety in the Spring- the statistical fact is that there are more suicides in the spring months, which can be related to increased anxiety and depression. There are, of course, a few theories about this unfortunate phenomenon. Corey Brown clarified that one “theory is during the winter months, there is a build up or hibernation of fear and sadness… When the spring comes, light is more prevalent and energy increases, sadly people often act on their suicical plan.”

Another theory  on highlights the “should mentality” around how we are feeling, the stressfulness of change and even the possibility of how allergies can influence us.

Regardless of the cause, if you are feeling like you may harm yourself, no matter how nice it is outside… Please call the National Suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255, seek help from a qualified mental health professional or go to your nearest emergency room. ) 


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