People often ask me how I take care of myself. “You’re an acupuncturist; do you give yourself acupuncture?”
The answer is yes and no. No, I do not usually needle myself because I cannot always perceive myself objectively, so I prefer to have another trusted acupuncturist treat me. It’s nice to be taken care of, like having someone else prepare dinner for you! And also yes, I will needle myself from time to time, just not regularly.
Just like a good soup has a lot of ingredients, the “taking care of myself” recipe has a lot of options. In acupuncture theory, there are 3 major causes of illness: external causes (such as heat, cold, damp dryness), emotions and “other” causes (such as over-exertion, weak constitution, trauma, parasites, poisons and wrong treatment (also an issue with modern medicine)). So some of the strategies I employ are to keep my emotions in balance.
- Walking outdoors: if I can only do one thing in the day, a daily walk is the best. Fresh air, birdsong, clouds, seasonal flowers and trees, dogs & their owners from the neighborhood, nicely landscaped yards or a really interesting-looking house all lift my spirits. Today I found an owl feather – huzzah!
- A cup of tea. Milky tea with honey, roasted rice green tea, mint tea, digestive tea, mint & chamomile tea, or a zoom call with a girlfriend where we both have a cup of tea!
New Yorker magazine cartoons I have been reading them, saving them, sending them to friends and family for decades. A New Yorker magazine cartoon is one of my great pleasures!
- Reading for pleasure: because reality is particularly stressful at the moment (well, for three years now), I’m enjoying fiction. Sometimes historical fiction, sometimes something humorous. Or I let myself just read the current issue of the NEW YORKER magazine for really top-notch writing on a range of subjects.
- Humor: something light, clever humor, comedy, theater, improv… so many opportunities to keep it light. If I find something that amuses me, I’ll share it with friends or on social media.
- Supplements & Herbs: Fish oil, probiotics, minerals, Vit D, and various herbs for various needs that change over time. I take a green powder most days of the week because who eats enough greens? Right now, I’m focusing on vitamins and Chinese herbs to keep my immune system strong. Prevention is more effective and less costly than illness!
- Essential Oils: I’m diffusing anti-viral essential oils at work to try to combat any air-borne viruses, and applying them on my face masks when I go out. At home, I’m using essential oils to relieve stress, promote calm and help with sleep if needed.
- Healthy routines: I wash my face, and brush and floss my teeth daily. I do not sleep with a mobile phone or smart watch near my head (they are charging downstairs). I try to be in bed between 10:30 and 11:00. I take my walks in the morning, the earlier the better. I try to get a bit of NRP news daily, but not too much.
- Self-talk: I try to keep it positive, but some days I struggle with anxiety. I use mantra to help shift gears from whatever negative mental state I’m in to at least neutral. Loving-kindness meditation techniques, anything by Tara Brach, Insight Timer have all helped get me through in a pinch. Learning how to re-phrase and describe things neutrally, as though I were reporting as a neutral observer helps shift my thoughts dramatically; that’s a cognitive approach.
- Meditation: I’ll be honest, until the pandemic, I could not establish a regular practice. Inconsistent at best. A few weeks or a month, but nothing regular. Until the shut-down. Now my husband and I meditate together in the late afternoon most days. Regular practice allows me to drop into that quiet state more quickly.
- Learning something new: I consider myself a life-long learner, so I listen to podcasts, take continuing education in acupuncture (and related topics such as herbal medicine, Qi Gong, and meditation), and also for fun (making chocolate from bean to bar, Bollywood dance, Soul Collage).
- When I do get sick: It’s not often, but when I do, I’m alert for the first signs of potential illness: headache, muscle aches, suddenly stuffy nose, GI upset, unusual fatigue or scratchy throat. I go to bed and drink more water & herbal tea. Rest (early and a lot) has become my number one strategy at the first sign of illness. And if I need to ride it out, then I add more tea, Epsom salt and essential oil baths, gua sha (a scraping massage technique), and herbs if needed. If I need to clear my schedule and cancel work, then I do it. I’ve finally learned not to muscle through it!
What is your strategy for wellness? Share your tips!