It’s really odd to have Monday come along and I look outside the window and it looks exactly like Sunday did. I’m more likely to hear birds singing than school buses swooshing by. Life is strange and I’m feeling it! It feels like a consciousness shift to me. Some days are a fun exploration into making home feel comfortable and cozy. Some days we bake things before only made in fall and winter. Every day we have to find joy in what before felt mundane.
The whole pandemic makes me think of shifting to yin inside and internally while the weather is shifting to yang. I can bet we will be seeing lots of clients, when our clinics open back up, that have stress and anxiety because they are trying to reconcile conflicting forces. They still have to work but they also have to stay home. They have time off from normal school and work, but they can’t leave the house. We are used to more sympathetic nervous system stimulation than we are getting, so by default, we are allowing more time for parasympathetic. You might think this is a potential huge benefit of the stay at home order, but for some people making this change can be really hard. They have worked for years in an Adrenalin and cortisol producing environment such as a stressful management situation, so to take away the stressor AND have be recovering from adrenal burnout can produce fatigue and even insomnia and anxiety. It’s not like your switching on a happy switch and suddenly everything is perfect.
So what’s really going on here? We need to reestablish the homeostasis which keeps you alert and ready for life but not ready to fight a lion or your boss at any moment. This is perhaps more complicated than you might expect. The nervous system has been consistently misled to believe that your running from a predator, so it has demanded that the endocrine system produce hormones that make you ready for battle, even when you lay down for the night to go to sleep. Even more of a challenge is that there is no miracle drug to bring this scenario into balance, because it’s a chronic pattern.
That was a lot of reading you had to do to get to the green of the week. But it’s related and important background.
Greens are the nervous system favorite foods. Rich in vitamins such as vitamins A, C, and K and folate and minerals (such as iron and calcium), they are generally very easy to prepare from fresh and quite flexible in complimenting several dietary styles, such as gluten free, paleo, keto, and vegan. Swiss Chard, Green Chard, Rainbow Chard, or Red Chard are all prepared the same way and can be mixed and matched in recipes depending on what your local green grocer has available. Chard is a bitter green, but not the most bitter and can be easily prepared via saute or added to many soup recipes.
Here’s my favorite way to cut chard.
Here’s my consistently favorite chard recipe.
Prep time is about 20 minutes. This serves 4-6 people as a side dish.
a bunch of any type of chard, about 1lb
2T olive oil
One decent sized onion
2-3 cloves fresh garlic
salt and pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (or your favorite acid) for serving
Prep: Take the chard, and wash it once or twice while it’s still fresh and springy. Take out the stems if you don’t like them, or set them aside and chop in 1/2 inch pieces if you want to use them. Make the chard leaves into 3/4″ ribbons as they do in the video or however you like to cut them. Chop the onion medium fine and chop the garlic finely.
Fry: Place your oil in a frying pan that ideally has a lid available. Fry the onion a few minutes until it becomes shiny and starts to clear. Add the garlic salt and pepper and continue sauteing 3 more minutes. Add the chopped up stems for the last 5 minutes before the greens go in if you choose to use them. This is not a hot saute but will cool off when the greens are added. Finally add the chard leaves you have made into ribbons. They will reduce in size quickly and even quicker with a lid over the pan. Any time after the greens have reduced in size they are ready and tender for eating. After the heat is off, you can add the vinegar to the whole dish at once, or reserve it for eating time if it’s not all being served. Salt and pepper to taste.
For a great spring soup check out this Herb, Chard, Feta soup
What else can we do to help make the transition to yin activities until it’s safe to go out? On my daily list are deep breathing, having fun, sweating, staying on top of diet supplements and pro-biotics as needed, cooking adventurous new recipes, reading, taking self care time, listening to our bodies and our environment. Most important thing though is be kind during this hard time. You may need some time outs from family, working from home, or taking care of the kids. Please take that time. Rest and feel better and try to stay with the feeling that while this is not normal life, we can’t go back to how it was before either. Breathe, drink water, and eat your greens!