I logged into Facebook this morning, like I do every morning, and I was struck by the number of my friends who commented on the fact that "Christmas is only 2 months away!" Seriously, there were at least 7 people who posted that very comment. If you are lucky enough to have friends who DON'T point this stuff out to you, then I apologize for bringing attention to it. But sadly, these 7 were right! I realize that not everyone celebrates Christmas but most everyone has Holiday hoopla that they must shop for, save money for, plan for, travel for, cook for... all while maintaining their everyday schedules. And just THINKING about it makes me stressed!! But, did you know that acupuncture can serve as an amazing stress reliever? Think about it, have you EVER given yourself 60-90 minutes per week to just relax? The holidays are the perfect time to start. Acupuncture can rejuvenate you so that you can actually enjoy the time you have with your friends and family-instead of worrying whether or not you remembered a gift for "so and so" or when you will find time to run to the grocery store to get the ingredients for cookies. People who have outlets for their stress generally sleep better and maintain a healthier weight. And doesn't everyone worry about adding a few pounds over the holidays? If you gave yourself the time to relax and unwind with acupuncture, you can make it through the next few months relatively stress free and you may even enjoy the holidays again- just like when you were a kid! Heck, maybe you can even get out there and go sledding. (Acupuncture helps with back pain, too!)
If you are like a lot of people I know, being faced with the crisp air this morning got you a little excited for all that Fall in New England has to offer. Apple picking, football games, sweaters with gloves, foliage and state Fairs are all part of the fond experience of living here. While you are enjoying all that the season has to offer, please make sure you are protecting yourself against illness. According to Chinese Medical Theory (TCM), the change in season can often leave us very vulnerable to illness. The temperature variations can really confuse the wei qi (think, immune system). Here are a few simple things you can do to keep yourself safe:
1. Wear a scarf, even if it's not too cold. In Chinese medicine, "evil influences" can enter through the back of the neck. Have you ever noticed that when you start to feel a cold or flu coming on, you get a dull neck ache? The same can be said for your low back. This is another area that is very vulnerable. Keep these areas covered and it will be more difficult for these influences to get in.
2. Get enough sleep. I know, easier said than done. But, go to bed just 10 minutes earlier. You'll notice a difference.
3. Eat fruits and vegetables that are locally grown and in-season. At this time of year, it is best to snack on veggies that have been cooked- not raw! Raw foods are cold and the Fall is the time of year when you want to warm your insides in preparation for winter. Asparagus, broccoli, onions, radish, mustard greens, apricots and pears are all great choices! Grains are also important- "pungent" flavors are recommended for this time of year. Try to incorporate rice, navy beans and almonds into your diet. Avoid too much heavy, fatty or fried foods. (I know, tough if you are like me and plan to head to the Topsfield Fair this weekend!)
4. Exercise. But, not too vigorously. I love to run outdoors in the Fall. But producing lots of sweat when it's cold outside can also confuse the body. If possible, walk outside and try to run indoors or when it is not too briskly cold out.
5. Give yourself an outlet- whether it's singing out loud in the car, writing in a journal or a weekly phone call to an old friend. You need to decompress your mind, too.
6. Take the time to enjoy the season. Like always, it's New England- so you never know how long this beautiful weather will last!
dietary information extracted from Paul Pitchford's, Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition
Are you considering acupuncture but not sure how to select a practitioner? Any acupuncturist who is licensed in Massachusetts is qualified to perform treatment on you. That leaves a lot of options! The most important thing about selecting the right practitioner is your comfort level. Knowing what makes you comfortable and what makes you uncomfortable will make the selection process easier. During your initial acupuncture appointment the practitioner will likely ask you some very intimate questions- from your bowel habits to the quality of your libido. Being prepared for such questions may help you be more comfortable with your practitioner. Some people are more comfortable seeing a practitioner of a certain age, or gender, or experience level. That is okay! You are paying for the treatment so you have a right to choose who performs it. Being open and comfortable during your treatment is vital to the success of your outcome. It's natural to be a little frightened or nervous when you try something new. But if what you are feeling is more than what you would consider normal nerves, speak up! There are accomodations that can be made to enhance your comfort.