Posts Tagged ‘stress’

Changing With The Seasons – Autumn

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Autumn 300x199 Changing With The Seasons   Autumn

As summer draws to a close and we enter into autumn, it’s a good opportunity to pay closer attention to our own health. In Traditional Oriental Medicine, the transitions between seasons are seen as an important period of time in which a person’s body is trying to re-calibrate and stay in harmony and balance with their natural environment.

As the 2,000 year old acupuncture textbook Huang Di Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine) explains, as autumn approaches and the weather turns cooler, a shift in Nature begins and there is a turning inwards of its energy. This shift can clearly be seen in plants which have finished harvesting and now begin to focus inwards on conserving energy into their root system, an example of how the active quality of Yang transforms into the more passive quality of Yin.

The Yellow Emperor goes on to describe how during the summertime, people are usually more physically active and their moods are more relaxed and easygoing. However, as autumn begins, he explains how this should be a time for a person to become more inwardly focused and how learning to maintain a calm and peaceful spirit is an important aspect of this inward focus.

One of the suggestions of the Yellow Emperor to assist with the transition into autumn is to practice breathing exercises. In acupuncture theory, autumn is the season most closely associated with the Lung system, which in Eastern Medicine includes not only the lungs but also other areas of the body including the nasal sinuses, skin, energy circulation, and the immune system. By helping to regulate and strengthen the Lung system, many other aspects of our health can also be improved.

As we get back into our busy regular work and school routines, it’s easy to begin to ignore our health. However, taking a few minutes every day to have some quiet time and just focus on deep relaxed breathing can be a simple way to let go of stress and bring more awareness and vitality to our lives.

Goodbye Facebook

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

FB 300x206 Goodbye Facebook

In the latest of a series of moves taken by Facebook that makes maintaining a business page even more difficult, they will soon be forcing business owners to also have a personal page in order to continue using their services, under the pretense of “improved security”. Because of ongoing privacy concerns, I have chosen not to do so and will therefore be shutting down my Facebook business page until further notice.

In the meantime, if you would like to keep in contact with me please feel free to visit my Acupuncture blog and sign up for my email newsletter at:

http://www.ayacupuncture.com/blog/

Thank you for your continued support.

Is Your Work Affecting Your Health?

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Work Stress 300x199 Is Your Work Affecting Your Health?

As summer holidays come to an end, most people probably aren’t looking forward to returning back to office drudgery and their regular work routine. Besides the typical mental and emotional stresses that our work environments can create, Traditional Oriental Medicine has recognized for thousands of years that our day to day work activities can also have an effect on our physical health as well.

For example, a sedentary office job that involves sitting at a desk for prolonged amounts of time can cause problems with the tendons and muscles, resulting in stiffness in the shoulders, neck tension, back pain, and headaches. When the body doesn’t get enough physical movement and activity throughout the day, even the digestive system can become weak and sluggish.

For those who spend most of their day stuck behind a desk, taking a few minutes every hour to get up and walk around can be a simple habit to add to your workday. Standing desks are also becoming a popular option, allowing users to easily shift positions throughout the day.

Just as prolonged sitting and a sedentary lifestyle can negatively affect the Liver system, the opposite extreme of too much physical activity can also create an unhealthy imbalance. Repetitive strain injuries, tendonitis, carpel tunnel syndrome, and shoulder pain are some of the symptoms that can result from repetition and overuse.

Becoming more conscious of tension in our bodies can help us learn how to relax and move more efficiently. Proper stretching exercises to relax the tendons can also play an important role in reducing strains and injuries.

Finally, Traditional Oriental Medicine recognizes that overuse of our eyes can also have a negative impact on our health. Because of the connection seen in Chinese medicine between eyesight and blood flow, this overuse can contribute to a condition known as Blood Deficiency, leading to a variety of symptoms including headaches, fatigue, and insomnia.

Staring all day at computers, smart phones, tablets, tv, video games – our eyes are working overtime more than ever. Taking time to disconnect from our electronics and spending time out in nature is important for relieving eye strain. A relaxation technique known as eye palming, which involves rubbing the hands together until they’re warm and then gently cupping them over closed eyes for several minutes, can also be used to relax and refresh the eyes.

The more that we can create healthier habits and become aware of our bodies throughout the day, the more we’re able to experience better health even when at work.

Stepping Into Spring

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Spring Crocus 300x212 Stepping Into Spring

As the trees begin to blossom and spring is just around the corner, it’s a good opportunity to take some time to look after our health for the year ahead.

In one of the oldest writings of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the acupuncture textbook Huang Di Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine) states that:

“The three months of the spring season bring about the revitalization of all things in nature. It is the time of birth. This is when heaven and earth are reborn.”

The Yellow Emperor then goes on to make some practical suggestions for achieving a healthier lifestyle during this time of year:

  1. Get fresh air – If going for nature walks in the invigorating outdoors was suggested 2,000 years ago, how much more are we in need of it nowadays with long hours being spent indoors at the office and workplace? Spring is in the air – literally – so be sure to breathe some in!
  2. Exercise & Stretch – Just as Nature wakes up and becomes more active during the springtime, it’s good for us to take a similar cue in our own lives. Increasing our physical activity levels, including gentle stretching to loosen up those winter couch potato tendons and muscles, is an important aspect of improving our circulation and overall health. Maybe now is a good time to dust off those old New Year’s resolutions of getting more exercise and into better shape.
  3. Regulate the emotions – Perhaps the most important but easily overlooked advice is to regulate and care for our emotional health. Any extreme emotions and stress, but in particular anger and frustration, can be damaging to our health. The two previous points of advice of breathing and exercise can be helpful in this regard due to their calming effect on the body and nervous system. In addition, the lifelong process of learning to let go and forgive can be especially valuable to our own state of health and wellbeing.

Breathing, exercising, maintaining calmness – the Yellow Emperor’s advice from over 2,000 years ago still sounds like a good way to step into spring!

Back To The Grind

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

Body Mind Soul Spirit 300x199 Back To The Grind

With the relaxing days of summer drawing to a close, most of us probably find our lives busier than ever. Back to school. Back to work. Back to our everyday routines.

It can be easy to get caught up in the stress and busyness of life and forget about looking after our own health. However, in the 2,000 year old acupuncture textbook the Huang Di Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine), the Emperor’s court doctor gave some simple and practical advice in maintaining a healthy lifestyle:

“In the past, people practiced the Tao, the Way of Life. They understood the principle of balance, of Yin and Yang, as represented by the transformation of the energies of the universe. Thus, they formulated practices such as Dao-in, an exercise combining stretching, massaging, and breathing to promote energy flow, and meditation to help maintain and harmonize themselves with the universe. They ate a balanced diet at regular times, arose and retired at regular hours, avoided over stressing their bodies and minds, and refrained from overindulgence of all kinds. They maintained well-being of body and mind; thus, it is not surprising that they lived over one hundred years.”

Healthy habits for the body, regulating the emotions for the mind, nourishing the spirit – it was good advice back in ancient times and it’s probably needed now more than ever.

Unbalanced

Monday, December 16th, 2013

The healing art of KoKoDo Shiatsu, like other methods of Traditional Oriental Medicine such as acupuncture and moxibustion, seeks to regulate and correct imbalances within the body, helping to restore a person to a healthier state of balance.

On the other hand, using the theory of Yin-Yang mutual opposites, its related martial art of KoKoDo JuJutsu actually creates more imbalance in a person and is a practical self-defence art aimed at neutralizing and subduing a violent attacker in a humane and non-injuring manner.

However, many of these martial art concepts can also be applied to everyday life and with continued practice help a person to become healthier.

Balance – one of the most fundamental concepts in KoKoDo JuJutsu is that of kuzushi, or creating off-balance in an attacker. More specifically, the skeletal structure of the aggressor is compromised, primarily by affecting the vertical alignment of their head, spine, pelvis, and feet. By creating these subtle shifts in balance, the attacker loses their power and can then be easily thrown with minimal effort.

Many common activities such as desk work and computer use tends to create bad posture in our body structure – we slouch in our chairs or have poor alignment as we strain to look at our computer screens, creating tension and imbalance in our necks, backs, and hips.

By paying more attention to our own body alignment throughout the day and making appropriate adjustments to our work environments, we can maintain better posture which helps to lessen the strain on our bodies and allows us to function more efficiently.

Tension – KoKoDo JuJutsu makes use of atemi-waza, or the touching, manipulation, and striking of various acupuncture meridians and points, in many of its techniques. The main purpose is to create tension, fear, and pain in the attacker’s body and mind which then facilitates locking, controlling, and subduing them.

As anyone who has experienced Shiatsu massage knows, areas of tension in the body can be quite painful and sensitive to the touch when being worked on. Learning how to relax these tight areas, whether by shiatsu, yoga, stretching, or other similar methods, can be useful for relieving tension and pain as well as allowing for more circulation of blood and energy to help promote the body’s own healing abilities.

Breath – students of KoKoDo JuJutsu spend half of their time taking ukemi, or receiving techniques, getting tossed around the mats with painful wristlocks and throws. In order to practise and receive these techniques safely, students learn how to relax when getting thrown and part of this training is knowing how to breathe properly in order to absorb the pain and force without being injured.

Most people tend to unconsciously hold their breath and create tension in their abdomen and ribcage when concentrating on a work task at hand or when under stress.

Learning how to pay attention to our breathing patterns throughout the day and becoming more conscious of proper deep abdominal breathing helps to relax the body, calm the mind, and allows us to be better able to deal with stress whether it’s physical, mental, or emotional.

For more information about the Traditional Japanese art of KoKoDo, you can visit Hombu Jikimon Sadohana Dojo

Children and Anxiety

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

As summer draws to a close and September begins, it’s a busy time as the children head back to their regular school schedules and our work life returns to normal too.

For kids, this can often be an exciting time as new school teachers and classrooms are introduced, old friends are seen again, and regular routines and activities are re-established. However, for some it can also be a time of worry and anxiety in trying to cope with all of these new stressors.

In Traditional Oriental Medicine, a close connection can be seen between the physical body and the emotional state of a person.

For example, the 2,000 year old Chinese medical textbook Huang Di Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine) describes how “over-worrying about many things or obsessing about one thing” can lead to an imbalance in the digestive system (known in Traditional Chinese Medicine as the Spleen-Pancreas system)

It is interesting to note then that Western medicine is also coming to similar conclusions. For example, in one recent study published by the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, it was found that children who suffered from functional abdominal pain experienced a significantly higher incidence of developing anxiety and depression as adults.

A specialized form of pediatric acupuncture, known as Shonishin, can be very useful for helping to treat both anxiety and digestive problems in children. The focus is to strengthen and improve the child’s overall health and vitality, especially when their body type tends towards having a constitutional weakness in the digestive system. Parents can often be shown how to do some simple treatments at home and sometimes dietary recommendations might also be suggested to help out as well.

As the Spleen-Pancreas digestion system is brought back into a healthier state of balance, children usually show an improvement in symptoms such as better appetite and fewer stomachaches as well as report feeling calmer and less anxious – which sounds like a much more enjoyable way to face another new school year.

No Mind

Monday, November 5th, 2012

“Like the calm still surface water that reflects the moon and a flying bird, true living calmness is the condition of our mind that reflects all things clearly.”

Tohei Koichi – Ki Sayings

A frequently heard comment from people coming in for acupuncture and shiatsu treatment is that they struggle with “over-thinking”, finding it difficult to quiet the mind as a thousand thoughts constantly race through their head.

This problem seems to be common for most people in our modern society and not just in cases such as anxiety, depression, or insomnia.

How does one quiet the mind? In traditional martial arts training is a concept known as mushin. Literally translated as “no mind” or “empty mind”, mushin is sometimes compared to the calm surface of a lake which provides a clear reflection of its surroundings.

For example, in the martial art of KoKoDo JuJutsu, powerful yet effortless technique is developed in part by the cultivation of mushin – learning how to abandon one’s physical and mental tension and stress while at the same time being able to relax and properly focus the mind and body.

Learning how to calm our minds takes a lifetime of practice. However, some useful daily habits to help people begin to develop a mental state of calmness include:

  1. Be in the moment – regular physical exercise can be helpful in calming the mind. Whether it’s participating in a fitness class, going for a bicycle ride, or just walking in the neighbourhood park, physical activity can be a simple way of engaging in the present moment and helping a person leave the day’s worries and thoughts behind them.
  2. Quiet time – turning off the tv, radio, cellphone, and countless other distractions and spending time just sitting and doing nothing alone in silence, even just 10 minutes, can be a good start. It may be difficult when first beginning, but with continued practice becomes more comfortable as we are able to remain in a state of relaxed silence for longer periods of time and with less distraction.
  3. Breathe – in Eastern thought, there is no separation between the mind and body – stress and tension in one can affect the other. Many people tend to subconsciously hold their breath when under stress. By becoming self-aware of this and relearning how to relax and breathe, both the body and mind are able to become more calm.

The 24 Hour Clock

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Love it or hate it, Daylight Savings Time (DST) is here upon us. However, as critics point out, there seems to be some evidence that this sudden change in time can create various health problems associated with a disruption and stress to our natural circadian rhythm, including fatigue, sleeping difficulties, mood changes, and even an increase in traffic accidents.

Long before the western scientific discovery of circadian rhythm, did you know that Traditional Chinese Medicine also described a 24-hour cycle in the human body?

The following table lists the windows of time in which the various organs and their corresponding meridian pathways are the most active according to time acupuncture theory:

  • 3 am – 5 am Lung
  • 5 am – 7 am Large Intestine
  • 7 am – 9 am Stomach
  • 9 am – 11 am Spleen-Pancreas
  • 11 am – 1 pm Heart
  • 1 pm – 3 pm Small Intestine
  • 3 pm – 5 pm Bladder
  • 5 pm – 7 pm Kidney
  • 7 pm – 9 pm Pericardium
  • 9 pm – 11 pm Triple Burner
  • 11 pm – 1 am Gallbladder
  • 1 am – 3 am Liver

This information can be clinically valuable. For example, if someone is suffering from insomnia and tends to wake up at 3am every morning, often acupuncture points related to the Lung and Liver meridians can be useful for treatment.

For others, sometimes they experience an aggravation of symptoms at a specific time of day, such as always getting a headache late in the afternoon. Again, acupuncture points on the corresponding meridian pathways associated with that particular time of day can be used during acupuncture treatment to help the body regain balance and experience an improvement in symptoms.

Western medicine is becoming more aware of the influence that time of day has on various biological processes, something that Traditional Chinese Medicine has recognized for thousands of years.

Acupuncture & Stress

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Acupuncture can be a valuable treatment for helping to deal with stress… unless you’re this guy and having a REALLY bad day!

Stress – An Eastern Perspective

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Although stress seems to be just an accepted part of everyday living in our modern society, it certainly is nothing new. In fact, one of the oldest Chinese medical textbooks, written over 2,000 years ago, was advising people on how to lower their stress levels so that they could live healthier and better lives.

In Eastern medicine, stress can be roughly categorized into 2 types – physical and emotional – although there is quite a bit of overlap between them because Traditional Oriental Medicine views the body, mind, and spirit as being inter-related to each other.

Physical stress can be caused by many factors, including overwork, not enough rest, environmental toxins, and simply pushing the body too much.

In terms of acupuncture theory, it is the Kidney system which is mostly affected by prolonged physical stress. In Eastern medicine, when talking about the Kidney meridian system, it relates not only to the urinary and reproductive organs, but also encompasses aspects of the entire endocrine system, including the adrenal glands. (more…)

Ancient Stress Relief

Monday, December 29th, 2008

For those of us looking to make our health a higher priority in our lives, one of Traditional Chinese Medicine’s oldest books, compiled in approximately 200 B.C. and titled Huang Di Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine), continues to provide us with a wealth of information for improving our health.

In a particular section of this acupuncture textbook, the Emperor was asking his court physician why people of their day weren’t living as long, compared to those of ancient China.

His doctor replied:

“These days, people have changed their way of life. They drink wine as though it were water, indulge excessively in destructive activities, and deplete their energy… Seeking emotional excitement and momentary pleasures, people disregard the natural rhythm and order of the universe. They fail to regulate their lifestyle and diet, and sleep improperly. So it is not surprising that they look old at fifty and die soon after.”

This description, written over 2,000 years ago, sounds much like our own current situation and the doctor’s advice seems just as relevant for today’s society: (more…)