March 21st is the first official day of spring. And you know what that means….
That’s right! You will have no idea what to wear for at least 30 days. One day it may feel like summer is here, and the next it could be freezing cold. There may be rain or snow, or it might feel drier than the Sahara as the heater burns up any remaining humidity. It’s no wonder this is the time of year when people often get sick simply because their bodies are having a difficult time adjusting to the changing weather forecasts. So what’s a body to do?
First, always dress in layers so you are prepared for anything. Travel with some sort of waterproof covering for your head. A waterproof hat or umbrella works just fine!
Spring is the Kapha season, so it’s best to begin consuming a light Kapha Food Plan, including warming spices to help prevent sinus colds and allergies. For added help, see my seasonal cold guide, Cold Prevention: Stopping Flu Season Before It Begins.
Secondly, tune into your body and its temperature periodically. Becoming aware of how we are feeling is the best way to self-diagnose and take corrective action before health imbalances take hold. Consider the following telltale signs.
Signs You May Be Too Cold: nervousness, anxiety, panic, fear or lethargy – twitches, tics, tremors, muscle spasms – dry or chapped skin – constipation, gas, bloating, dry and/or hard stools – sensitivity to loud noises or windy conditions – light, interrupted sleep or desire to stay in bed all day
Signs You May Be Too Hot: anger, irritability, feeling judgmental or critical of self and others – inflammation, infection, redness or bleeding – skin rashes like acne, psoriasis or eczema – fever – loose stools or diarrhea – feeling fatigued and burnt out
What To Do If You Are…
The goal is always to maintain balance, and Ayurveda uses the application of opposing qualities to right the ship. Here’s a few course corrections you can make to help your body rebalance during this fickle weather season.
- Use ginger freely, particularly fresh ginger in foods and as a tea
- Decrease consumption of raw foods, which tend to be colder. Make a soup or consume roasted or steamed veggies (with butter or ghee). Non-vegetarians can consume meat to get warm. Fish and chicken (white meat) are mildly warming; chicken (dark meat) and red meat are warmer.
- Continue to include adequate amounts of good-quality oils in your diet to help offset the cold from inside out. Reference your personal doshic food plan for the best choices for you.
- Avoid all dairy, which is cooling and mucous-producing; if you do consume it, drink hot cocoa or boiled milk with warming spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and/or nutmeg
- Rub sesame oil all over your body before a nice, hot shower; rub on the bottoms of your feet and then wear your favorite footies to bed to help stay toasty all night. If you suffer cold hands as well as feet, you can oil your hands as well and wear gloves to bed.
- Keep the thermostat around 72 degrees. Dress warmly and stay under the covers or under blankets if needed. Don’t overdo the heat if possible as it can lead to excessive dryness, which will ultimately make you colder.
- Keep moving as much as possible to keep the blood flowing. Wake up before 6:00 am and exercise to get your blood circulating. After 6:00 am, it will be more difficult to get moving as this is the Kapha time of day.
While we typically recommend Pitta-reducing practices to get cool in the summer, during the Spring, we want to use cooling measures with caution. Less is more. Recognize that you don’t want to cool your system too much (unless you have a severe Pitta imbalance) as tomorrow it may be cold and rainy again. Instead, try these gentle modifications:
- Remove excess garments until you feel comfortable.
- Drink room temperature water instead of warm water during the warmer days.
- Refrain from heating foods with hot spices like garlic, cayenne pepper, etc. Heating foods include heavy meats like red meat and dark chicken or turkey and condiments that include vinegar.
- Amp up your consumption of organic dairy, including warm milk and moderate amounts of yogurt.
- Reduce consumption of alcohol, which is very heating.
- Reduce your sugar intake, as sugar can be over-stimulating and heating. Try eating sweet fruits and nuts instead.
- If you’re really uncomfortable, sip a small glass of aloe vera juice or coconut water. You can even spritz yourself with rosewater if necessary!
The sole purpose of this article is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have an acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or email Karen Callahan at firstname.lastname@example.org.