Many people know me as the "Doctor of the Seasons," mainly because my first book—Staying Healthy With the Seasons—focuses on the natural cycles in the Earth, Sun and Moon, and how we might align ourselves more with these cycles to achieve optimal health.
I will never forget my first Spring after discovering the essential truth about cycles and health. That season took on a special new meaning for me since it was no longer simply a time for the melting of snow or shift from damp and cold with the greening and gradual warming toward the heat of Summer. Spring for me became a season of true renewal and cleansing— both inside and out. It came to symbolize the time of change for me, clearing past patterns and a few pounds of Winter to lighten up and create space for fresh and new ones to emerge and bring greater vitality and health.
I have now seen 40 Springs since I became a doctor, and 38 since I did my first 10-day juice cleanse, a life changing path for my health and career. I view Spring also as transformative time with the opportunity to change the lives of others and initiate them into shifting from old, unhealthy ways to create new diets and lifestyles towards a more integrative, preventive, and natural approach to health and wellness.
My thoughts of Spring are in a series of simple "tips" which I have written about on my website www.haashealthonline.com. Following is a newer version for your review and motivation:
10 TIPS FOR SPRING CLEANSING AND RENEWAL
1. Become Current in Your Life
Spring is a time to shed your former self and shift the habits that hinder your progress toward optimal health. It is a season to embrace yourself honestly as you look at all of your habits and areas of your life. Recognize Spring as a special season to care for yourself and your loved ones. If you can establish this practice now, there is a greater likelihood that you will continue throughout the year. Assess the various aspects of your life to see where stresses or weaknesses exist, including your diet, exercise program, work, or relationships. Focus on the areas that need improvement and develop a simple and achievable plan to bring these areas current in your life.
2. Look at Your Relationships
Take the time to examine the health of your personal and professional relationships. Sometimes, there can be issues in these relationships that hinder you from achieving your professional goals or your highest levels of energy and health. An attitude of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness is one that promotes both outer and inner healing. Consider including your significant other, friends, or relatives to go along with you in a Spring Cleansing diet for their own good and for all of your mutual support.
3. Choose Three Habits That You Can Change
Think about three habits in your life and attitudes that are likely to undermine your health and life. How and when did they begin? Are they persisting or have they run their course? Which ones are most important for you to change or incorporate to create a healthier you? Do you need help or can you do this on your own? My "top three" habits that I am changing include:
- Eat more lightly at night so that I can digest more fully to be less full for sleep;
- Take more time for stretching and yoga; and
- Create with some other experts a nutritional plan to reverse some plaque I have and to continue to clear my coronary arteries.
It's easier to give habits up if you start something new, like breathing and relaxing more, walking, dancing, romancing, and overall, making more time for health.
4. Clean and Organize Your Home
Oftentimes, your outer world can be a reflection of your inner one. If your home and workplace are chaotic it could be a sign that your inner life is also in need of some "Spring Cleaning." I love the feeling of looking at my desk, my closet, and every nook and cranny around my house and office, and wanting to freshen and simplify it all. An added benefit of this activity is that it is a good way to stay out of the kitchen and look at other areas of my life. Of course, the kitchen can be one of the rooms in your home that need the most cleaning and organizing, especially if it has become cluttered with unhealthful foods, beverages and snacks. When I can move things forward and recycle what I can, my life feels and looks cleaner and lighter at the end of my Spring Cleaning, and has space for the new to land.
5. Get Outdoors and Exercise
How many of you move less during the colder, dark winter months? Isn't Nature wise in giving us the season of Spring to emerge from our "hibernation?" Move your Body! Stay Fit and Stay Healthy. Hike and explore your neighborhood and extended community or find a place you have heard about and want to visit. I love the lightness and easiness I feel when I am cleansing, and my body feels more flexible and able to do my aerobic exercise. A yoga class is a good experience to expand our flexibility. Breathe and relax as well. Play flute, dance, and make time for romance. Remember, this is the Spring season!
6. Take a Fresh Look at Your Dietary Choices
There is only one person responsible for what you put in your body—that's YOU! What do you choose to put in that mouth of yours? And what do you fuel your other "mouths" with; those areas of energy intake, like your eyes, ears, skin, and heart? A good way to gain some perspective about what you put in, on, and around your body is to write down a few days of your typical diet, then assess it and write a new plan based on your knowledge of what is right for you. You may also wish to take a break from the TV, news, violent movies, and stressful people while you are purifying your life. And let's not forget "getting off the grid" (the digital "grid" that is"). Regarding your diet, it's good to have a reference by taking a break, even with substances like caffeine and sugar (as in my book, The Detox Diet), to see how you feel and what level your dependence is on your favorite substances. I can assure you that it feels good to release yourself from those habits. Remember, Better Choices create Better Health!
7. Take Stock of Your Emotional Life
Spring is a great time to take stock of your emotional and spiritual life. It's an excellent time to ask yourself—without judgment—- how do I feel generally about life and about myself? Am I low or depressed? Or am I more positive and energetic? Ideally, we can feel a wide range of emotions based on our daily life experience and not dwell on one particular emotion, which is the real problem. Embrace the whys of moods and energy levels with greater honesty of your true feelings, which is the beginning of healing feelings. And I can tell you that many factors ranging from your diet and digestive health to your early childhood learned behavior patterns influence your mood, energy level, and emotions, and thus your Spiritual WellBeing.
8. Participate in a Cleansing or Detox Program for 1–3 Weeks This Spring
Spring is a season for true cleansing and natural detoxification. Types of cleanses and detox programs range from very simple to complex. I often recommend simple juice cleansing, the detox diet, or basic elimination diets, such as a period off sugar, chocolate, sodas, milk products, wheat, or whatever you believe undermines your health. To do this successfully, it helps to write out a plan and focus on what you will do and what you are going to consume, and not what you are leaving out. Make a list of your good foods, shop for them, and have them available whenever you are hungry. And drink lots of good water.
At minimum, take a break from the Big Five:
9. Evaluate Your Nutritional Supplements
Supplements can offer benefits, cause some imbalances, or be of no effect whatsoever (except on your wallet). Ask yourself: What are the best supplements to use especially during a detoxifying diet? I suggest, with a food-based Detox Program, a simple age- and gender-appropriate multivitamin/mineral along with additional antioxidants that include vitamins C and E (mixed natural tocopherols), and selenium as the basic supplement plan. Also helpful for most people are herbs that stimulate bowel function to support the cleansing process, and blue green algae (like Chlorella or Spirulina) for energy and detox support. I also suggest drinking plenty of water and herbal teas. Calcium and magnesium before bed can help with relaxation and sleep or a buffered vitamin C formula with those minerals (plus potassium) help to alkalinize and cleanse the body. 5-HTP can help for sleep, at amounts of 50-150 mg at bedtime.
10. Make Your Overall Plan and Commitments
Begin this Spring by looking at the key areas of your life, which include:
- Your Health
- Your Personal Habits
- Love and Relationships, and
- Career or Work.
And if LOVE moves into all those areas, that is all the better as you will care for yourself and your life, plus your relationships in a positive way. Human love is temporal for many, yet love in the Spirit is everlasting. We are all blessed to share this garden, this Earth, which needs our Love and Protection. We must take the time to Nurture Nature, in order to be Nourished and Flourish.
Elson M. Haas, MD
Elson M. Haas, MD is a medical practitioner with nearly 40 years experience in patient care, always with in an interest in natural medicine. For the past 30 years, he has been instrumental in the development and practice of Integrated Medicine at the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (PMCM), which he founded in 1984 and where he is the Medical Director. Dr Haas has been perfecting a model of healthcare that integrates sophisticated Western diagnostics and Family Medicine with time-honored natural therapies from around the world.
This educating, writing doctor is also the author of many books including Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine, 21st Century Edition, The NEW Detox Diet: The Complete Guide for Lifelong Vitality with Recipes, Menus, & Detox Plans and more. Visit his website for more information on his work, books and to sign up for his newsletter.