Of all the lockdown measures, the restrictions to individual movement were probably the ones that we mostly suffered from.
Our lives became very sedentary and that entailed all the typical side effects of the lack of exercise: weight gain, lymphatic and circulatory slowdown, mood swings.
During my 3-week stay-at-home time, my legs became bigger and swollen, also due to the warmer temperatures. This is a typical sign that lymph and blood are not running smoothly. And my mood was
irritable. Several people told me that they experienced the same or similar problems: feelings of restlessness, anxiety and depression, swollen limbs and feet, weight gain and bloating.
These are all symptoms of what in Traditional Chinese Medicine is called Qi Stagnation, i.e. a blockage in the flow of energy throughout the body. It was as if the forced break that we were living outside was internalized into the body, where it affected our organs and systems.
Now that the restrictions have been eased, how can we bring our body back to motion? Let us find out.
First, we should move our bodies. It has been shown that light aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking) practiced for at least 30 minutes 3 times a week is enough for our circulatory as well as psychological wellbeing.
Second, we should follow a balanced, healthy diet rich in flavonoids. These are polyphenolic compounds found in berries, fruit, vegetables, grains, tea. Studies have shown that they are protective of the vascular wall as well antioxidative, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic. They also have a beneficial effect on the intestinal flora.
Third, we should drink plenty of water as it is and in the form of herb tea and infusions. The most useful herbs for our lymph and blood circulation are birch, dandelion and gotu kola. Birch helps flush out toxins, waste and excess fluid thanks to its diuretic and draining properties. Dandelion is also a detox herb as it promotes healthy liver function. Gotu kola improves blood and lymph circulation, it is anti-edema and anti- inflammatory. As these herbs may taste a little bitter, fennel or anise seeds can be added for better flavor and also for their digestive, anti-bloating properties.
These herbs are also available in the form of supplements, as liquid extracts, tinctures or tablets.
Topically, we can massage our limbs and feet with essential oils wisely diluted in carrier oils or aloe vera gel.
The most useful essential oils for lymphatic drainage and blood circulation are: lemon, cypress, cedarwood, patchouli, celery.
Follow these tips and you will most likely reduce your leg and ankle swelling as well as your fluid retention and, in some cases, your weight.