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Carrot Ginger Immune and Digestive Support Vegan Soup Recipe

carrot ginger immune boosting digestive health easy vegan soup recipeI know, that’s a very long title for a recipe: Carrot Ginger Immune and Digestive Support Vegan Soup Recipe. But I wanted to say a bit about why I chose to make and share this one. My poor husband has had a fair amount of dental work done recently. Most people don’t particularly enjoy having someone drill in their head, but for him, it’s particularly anxiety-provoking, as I’m sure many of you can relate. All that stress was taking a toll on both his immune and his digestive systems–as stress does. Plus, he wasn’t able to chew very well.

Now, I’m not much of a cook, I’ll easily admit. So, anything I do make needs to be pretty easy and quick. I’m mostly not much of a cook not because I can’t cook well, but because I’m impatient when it comes to getting food ready. When I want food…cue Queen’s song…I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now.

As you probably know, carrots are good for you. Rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C, they are immune system supportive. They support the digestive system with a rich source of fibre. Combine that with anti-inflammatory, digestive supporting ginger, and you’ve got a powerhouse of health.

So, here it is, the no-chewing-required, immune-boosting, digestion-supporting, vegan-friendly, make-it-easy recipe.

Vegan Soup Recipe

Carrot Ginger Immune Boosting Digestive Supporting Healthy Vegan Soup Recipe
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
  2. 1 medium onion, diced
  3. 3 tablespoons minced ginger (I did closer to 4-5 Tbsp and it was super gingery, but delish!)
  4. 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander (I used cumin because I thought I was out of coriander)
  5. 4-5 cups diced carrots
  6. 3 cups vegetable broth
  7. 1 cup coconut milk
  8. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat
  2. Add onions
  3. Saute until onions are translucent (about 4 minutes)
  4. Add ginger
  5. Saute for another 4 minutes (until softened and fragrant)
  6. Add coriander (or cumin)
  7. Add carrots
  8. Stir
  9. Add vegetable broth
  10. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are completely softened (about 30 minutes)
  11. Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes
  12. Blend soup until smooth, using either an emulsion blender in the pot or put into a blender in batches (my Vitamix did it all in one go)
  13. Return soup to pot
  14. Stir in coconut milk
  15. Add salt and pepper to taste
Notes
  1. Even better the 2nd day, if you have leftovers!
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/
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The Unicorn: #1 requested acupuncture point

vancouver acupuncture unicorn calm stressI don’t get the Starbucks Unicorn drink craze. It doesn’t look edible, it’s full of junk, and it contains a whopping 59g of sugar! It’s not just the calories. That’s almost 15 tsp of sugar. Inflammatory sugar. 

I get that it’s only available for a short time and people just want to try it because others are trying it. I’m curious too. But I know that that drink, for me, is a recipe for a headache–even if I only have a portion of it. So, instead I propose a new unicorn craze. I’d love to start an #acupunctureunicorn trend!

Ok, so the acupuncture point is not called The Unicorn. But I do nickname it the “#1 requested acupuncture point” and the “aren’t you going to do that point” point. The acupuncture point name is actually Yintang, and the benefits are many!

The main reason people request that point from me? Because it helps calm our overactive minds. We want to be mindful, but instead we find we’re “mind full.” Who amongst us couldn’t use a bit more calm? Unicorn acupuncture to the rescue.

What about sleep? Are you able to relax well and enjoy a deep, restful sleep? No? Then perhaps you could use some “acupuncture unicorn.”

Stuffy or runny nose? Allergic rhinitis? Congested sinuses? Become an acupuncture unicorn.

Headache? Perhaps it’s because you had a Starbucks unicorn drink? Or maybe it could be from eye strain, sinus congestion, stress, or other. Some unicorn acupuncture can help with that too.

Are you in? Are you ready to make a new unicorn craze–a healthy one? Take a picture of you getting acupuncture at Yintang and share it with the hashtag #acupunctureunicorn ! That would be a trend worth sharing.

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Cheat Your Way Into Meditation with Acupuncture

meditation with acupuncture“I don’t think I was asleep, but I don’t feel like I was ‘here’,” he said when I came back into the treatment room. This is a common theme for people getting acupuncture—though they do often sleep too. So, “where” was he? In a meditative zone.

That’s right. You can cheat your way into meditation with acupuncture! In fact, studies using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine to measure the activity level of different areas of the brain during acupuncture have found that “acupuncture needle manipulation modulates the activity of the limbic system and subcortical structures.” What does that mean, you ask?

These areas contain structures that help you experience and respond to emotions and potential threats, attention, memory, and more. One of these areas—the amygdala—triggers feelings of fear, anxiety, and stress. Studies on meditation show a decrease in brain cell volume in this structure after just a couple of months of regular meditation. A common description by people after both acupuncture and meditation is that they feel calmer and more relaxed.

I know many of you say that you can’t meditate. I get it. It can be difficult. But meditation, like everything, takes practice. Here are some tips on meditation.

Start Small

I made a commitment to just one minute daily. That’s a stupid small number, but I chose it because it would be ridiculous for me to say I don’t have time. Sixty seconds is simple. I always choose more than one minute, but I know that I can still be successful with just that tiny bit of time.

Find Mindfulness in the Mundane

One of my patients gave me a copy of an article about practicing mindfulness while peeling a mandarin orange. This small task takes two hands and involves the sensations of sight, touch, smell, and eventually—once you’ve unpeeled it—taste. Even the citrus smell itself is mood lifting aromatherapy.

You can practice mindfulness while brushing your teeth, walking your dog, or even just waiting for the bus. It’s true–you can put down your phone and just be.

Tune Out to Tune In

Have you ever tried a float? No, not a root beer float. What I mean is the now popular sensory deprivation float tanks. Because it’s completely dark, you wear earplugs, and you are floating in body temperature water, you get to experience nothing. When I’ve done it, I’ve sometimes felt my mind firing up, trying to make up for the lack of other sensory stimulus. But eventually, my mind got bored and I “disappeared.” One time I even felt very clearly like I was floating in space, tiny in a vast void. It was liberating.

Practice Daily

The key to the benefits of meditation is regular practice. Once a week for 20 minutes is not as good as 5 minutes every day. Consistency, habits, routines–that’s what prevails.

Find Meditation with Acupuncture

Another of my patients pays specific attention to how she feels when she gets acupuncture. She focuses on the sensations, pays mind to where and how she feels relaxed, and then makes sure to store that in her body memory so she can recall it later. She told me that she can even “experience acupuncture” when she’s sitting on a busy bus.

Our minds are designed to more easily recall the things we pay attention to. Perhaps you are like me, thinking you don’t have a good memory for names. But what happens when you are introduced?  When your new friend told you their name, were you really listening or were you thinking about what you were going to respond? Problems with memory are often actually problems of attention.

So, the next time you get acupuncture, pay attention to how it feels to relax when I leave the room. Pay attention to that feeling of calm as you get off the table. Then practice recalling those sensations later on. ‘Cause, guess what?

Acupuncture can help you cheat your way into meditation.

 

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Trump. So now what?

Trump election healthy move forwardI’m a silver-lining-seeker, an other-side-of-the-coin-thinker, an uplifting-quotes-subscriber. But these last few days have been tough. I know I probably shouldn’t post something political, but it’s both political and non-political, as what is happening now is affecting how many are feeling. I’ve read postings on Facebook by friends who state that something good will come of this, though there are a surge of postings by people who’ve experienced hatred, verbal abuse, physical assault, and other crimes at the hands of people in support of Trump (I recognize this is not the majority). And this is just a few days in. I find that hard to stomach. I find it hard to tell myself to breathe deep and let go. I find myself riled up!

So much so that I jumped out of bed to write this.

The fact is that I do still believe in our better selves (no, not bitter selves). That includes everyone. I think that people are acting out of hatred in response to their own fears and insecurities. But it doesn’t make it any easier if you are the victim (or potential victim) of any of that hatred. And I find it hard to reconcile, as I personally can’t imagine taking those steps of aggression toward people of a different race, gender, sexual identity or preference, or religion. But I am not in the shoes of those people. I was not taught the same things. I’ve been fortunate.

I will not, nevertheless, allow that hatred to rear its ugly head in my presence. My Japanese-Canadian grandparents know/knew racism. They were moved from their homes in Port Moody, BC to internment camps in ghost towns. They had their property taken from them by our government. Some of their neighbours and friends tried to help. Some did nothing. Some stood aside, allowing it to happen. Some cheered as it happened. My grandparents and their families did as they were told. They said, “Shikata ga nai.” That literally means, “There is no way.” In other words, there’s nothing we can do, so let it be done. They quietly accepted.

After the war, they were not allowed to return to their homes. Their property had been sold, so they had next to nothing. They were told to either return to Japan (some had never been there, having been born in Canada!) or move east of the Rockies. It’s my mother’s generation (the Sansei—3rd generation) who spoke up in the 1980s, asking for apologies and financial concessions. They also fought and won an end to the “War Measures Act” that allowed the government to suspend civil liberties and personal freedoms.

I often use the mantra, “shikata ga nai, shikata ga nai, shikata ga nai,” when I’m faced with something that seems out of my control. It can be a good mantra to help relieve stress and tension.

But, today I realized something. In this case, that’s the wrong thing for me to say. We all have something we can do. I had a conversation with a patient who is a financial planner. We got talking about how many people in the U.S. are angry and feel their poverty is outside of their control and caused by others. There may be some merit to that. But it’s also possible that they didn’t understand how to best take care of their limited finances. It’s not taught in schools. In fact, many otherwise well-educated people don’t understand much about managing their finances, investing wisely, or saving effectively. He tries to change that by reaching out to those he knows to help them understand the basics. Maybe those of you with that knowledge could shout a bit louder that you can help.

What if you’re a history teacher? Rather than just have your students memorize dates and events (that was my history class in high school), you could discuss key historical events and their impact, both good and bad. Help us learn from our past mistakes. Remind us where we’ve erred before so we can correct our actions now and in the future.

Each of us can rest a bit easier knowing that if we have something we do well, we could do that with a little more oomph. Something that provides more good in this world. And that can be with anything that we do.

When I purchased something at a store today, the salesperson asked me, “Would you like to donate a dollar to…Donald Trump?” He smiled mischievously and I laughed. This morning as I headed into the Skytrain station, the guy handing out free newspapers was shouting, “Have a wonderful day!” and “Happy Thursday!” He didn’t need to do that, but he clearly wanted to uplift those around him. When my cell phone’s screen went dark and wouldn’t display anymore, I had to take it in to get it fixed. At the phone kiosk, the young guy behind the counter was extremely friendly and helpful. At first, I didn’t want him to be. I was mad that I had to spend my time getting this item fixed when I bought it less than a year ago. But, he didn’t let my grumpy mood alter his attitude. Soon enough, my mood was softened.

Since I’m in healthcare, my offering is going to be health-related. I try to teach people how to take care of their health. When you are sick, tired, in pain, or just not feeling well, you aren’t your best self. You may be more likely to snap at people. You might have less energy to do your best job. You could find yourself unwilling to push yourself to go that extra step to provide more good in this world.

So, I pledge to keep trying my very best to make each of you healthier so you can spread more of your own positivity.

Now I think I’ll use the mantra, “Hoho wa arimasu”—“There is a way.” Or perhaps “noli illegitimi carborundum” (look up this phrase online).

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March is National Kidney Month

kidneys National Kidney MonthWhen patients come in to address particular organ health, they most often mention their heart, their liver, their lungs, or the various organs of their digestive system and reproductive system, but rarely does someone ask me about their kidneys. Your kidneys do a lot of work for you, but I doubt you think much about them, unless you have kidney health issues. This month is National Kidney Month, so I ask you to think about this hard working duo, and consider how you can keep them healthy.

What do your kidneys do?

Your kidneys filter about 200 litres of blood daily. You know that the kidneys help eliminate waste products and excess fluid from your body, but did you also know that your kidneys are needed to:

  • Regulate your blood pressure
  • Produce an active form of vitamin D 
  • Control the production of red blood cells

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we look to the TCM Kidney system when issues arise for bone and joint health, low back pain, issues with fear and anxiety, fatigue, edema, reproductive health, menopausal symptoms, and more. If you’ve experienced trauma, ongoing chronic stress, or have been told you have adrenal issues, we consider the Kidneys for that too, as the adrenal glands sit atop the kidneys.

How do kidneys malfunction?

There are many reasons why your kidneys could find themselves in trouble. Things that can increase your risk include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, urinary tract infections that travel to the kidneys, a family history of kidney disease, and aging. Some are just born with congenital issues affecting the kidneys, and those of Aboriginal, Asian, South Asian, Pacific Island, African/Caribbean, and Hispanic descent are at higher risk.

Though most aren’t aware of it, estimates are that up to two million Canadians have chronic kidney disease (CKD) or are at risk for it.

How do you know if your kidneys are struggling? One simple blood test you can get is called estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). Check out this risk assessment online tool for National Kidney Month to see if you should ask your doctor for this blood test.

How do I keep my kidneys healthy?

  1. Hydrate. You don’t have to go overboard, but I find many of my patients are chronically dehydrated. Unless you are taking B vitamins (including in a multi)–in which case your urine is likely to be bright yellow–your urine can help you determine if you are sufficiently hydrated. It should be a very pale yellow. If it’s a dark yellow, you may be dehydrated. Keep in mind that diuretics, like some blood pressure medications and caffeinated beverages, can make you have to pee much more often, as can overactive bladder and prostate problems.
  2. Keep healthy eating and exercise habits. Both will help manage your blood pressure, diabetes, stress, and weight. Watch your salt intake. Yes, salt is important for our health, but many take in too much salt, as it’s found in so many processed foods. You can also overdo the “good salt” like sea salt and Himalayan salt, especially if you have high blood pressure. 
  3. Stop smoking. So many reasons to quit. Smoking damages your blood vessels, raises blood pressure, and increases your risk for kidney cancer. Acupuncture can help you quit smoking.
  4. Don’t overdo pain medications like Advil and Motrin (ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen). These non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause kidney damage if taken too often. Acupuncture is best known for its ability to help treat and manage pain. Check out TCM for pain management options.
  5. Treat your diabetes, high blood pressure (click me), and urinary tract infections. Because these all increase your risk of kidney disease, it’s vital that you treat these health issues appropriately. Did you know that Traditional Chinese Medicine can help you not just treat the symptoms of these problems, but also work on getting to the source?
  6. Manage your stress. Stress can be a catalyst for disease. When the body is in chronic stress, it has a hard time healing. It doesn’t do a good job of simultaneously defending and repairing the body–often picking defending as its preferential course of action. There are many ways to cope with stress and support your adrenal glands. For more on adrenal fatigue click here.
  7. Come in for a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) consultation. While I won’t be able to detect your GFR levels without lab results, your body may be giving clues that your kidneys need to be addressed. Plus, it’s better to work preventively than in response to organ failure. 

National Kidney Month

I have a friend who has a kidney transplant. He knows the challenges that come with dialysis, organ transplant, and ongoing health issues. I urge you to remember to pay attention to the health of your kidneys this National Kidney Month and beyond, and to register for organ donation. It’s easy to do. Simply start with clicking here.

Facing the Facts about Kidney Disease National Kidney Month

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What I take for healthy travel supplements

healthy travel planeMany of you may be travelling this winter, either for Christmas holidays, New Year’s celebrations, or to get somewhere sunny early in the new year. The last thing you want to do is get sick. One of the first things I organize when I travel is my healthy travel pack. Your list may vary, depending on your particular needs, where you are travelling, length of travel, and how much room you have in your bags, but here are some of my tips.

Cover the Basics for Healthy Travel

While many have a fear of flying, afraid that the plane is going to crash, we all know that that is highly unlikely to happen. You are, however, highly likely to be exposed to a lot of viruses and bacteria that can leave you sick when you arrive at your destination. The first thing I would suggest when it comes to travel is to support your immune system. It’s also key to be proactive for digestive health, as travel can offer up some challenges in this regard. And how about stress and sleep? Even vacations can still stress you out and cause sleep problems.

Immune Health for Healthy Travel

  1. healthy travel prevent cold prevent flu anti-viralHydrate. Planes, in particular, are likely to leave you dehydrated. Though you may have to bother your fellow travellers so you can get up from your plane, train, or bus seat or ask for a driving pit stop, drink plenty of fluids. And no, wine or other alcohol do not count. In fact, don’t drink alcohol on the plane if you want to stay healthy (if you drink because it calms your nerves, read below for tips on that).
  2. Use an essential oil spritzer. A small (keep in mind liquid restrictions on airplanes) spray bottle with anti-viral essential oils like lavender and tea tree can be used to spritz your face. It’s refreshing, and if you inhale deeply as you spray, you’ll hydrate the mucus membranes of your nasal cavities, keeping them moist and doing their job of trapping infections before they enter your body deeper. Keep in mind that not all your fellow passengers will like this, so you may want to go to the bathroom to do this. Or, some may ask if they can borrow your spray bottle so they can try it themselves (no problem!).
  3. Take an immune support supplement with you. I take Japanese red reishi capsules and an anti-viral natural herbal throat spray. I also often take vitamin C or Panax ginseng powder to mix into my water.
  4. Take anti-bacterial wipes and/or hand sanitizer. I don’t like the conventional ones like Purell (hate the smell and find it drying), preferring instead ones like EO’s lavender hand sanitizer. 
  5. Avoid touching your face. This one takes practice. You may not realize it, but many of you will touch your nose, mouth, eyes, and ears several times in a day, each time possibly transferring bacteria to those entry points of your body. Use your forearm, sleeve, or tissue if your face is itchy or whatever. This funny video gives you another option for your sneeze: Sneeze into the back of your knee.

Digestive Health for Healthy Travel

  1. healthy travel digestion upset stomachTake a digestive enzyme blend. One of the things I love about travelling, is the chance to try new foods. But sometimes the body takes some time to get used to a change in diet. Plus, many of us over-indulge. I always bring digestive enzyme capsules in my purse, at the ready for culinary adventures.
  2. Bring ginger. I like ginger candy chews to help with motion sickness and nausea or vomiting from other cause (ugh, many of us have been down that road before).
  3. Be careful. Of course you know that if you are travelling to a place that is known for the equivalent of Montezuma’s Revenge (not just in Mexico), you’ll want to avoid drinking non-bottled or non-boiled water, ice, and even some raw fruits and vegetables. If you can peel them, you are much safer. I also bring grapefruit seed extract (Nutribiotic) so I can wash fruit I want to enjoy, but can’t fully trust. 
  4. Take probiotics. Probiotics are the good bacteria that support a healthy digestive and immune system. The research on probiotics (and our “microbiome”) is growing exponentially. Look for one that’s shelf-stable (doesn’t need to be refrigerated), if you don’t have a fridge to store them.
  5. Bring anti-nausea wrist bands. If there’s any chance of someone in your travel party getting nauseous from motion sickness, throw these inexpensive and small wrist bands into your bag. 

Managing Stress and Sleep Issues for Healthy Travel

  1. healthy travel stress stres-free travel stressed outMake time for sleep. I know that getting ready to take a break from work can mean overtime before and after holidays. But, do your best to still get enough sleep. If you don’t sleep well, your immune system, digestive system, and everything else will not work as well. You’ll be more stressed too.
  2. Stress manage. Of course you may not be able to avoid all things stressful, but you can be prepared. If you are afraid of flying, get yourself geared up. My husband does not like to fly. But distraction (he never travels without his MP3 player and good headphones), breathing techniques, and explanations (“What’s that noise?!” “That’s the landing gear coming down.”) all help. There are also many natural remedies to help calm the nervous system. Passion flower (e.g.Pascoflair tablets) and Rescue Remedy drops or lozenges are examples. And, if something stronger is needed, I bring Gravol, in case he needs to be knocked out (though it doesn’t always work).
  3. Breathe. Of course you breathe. But do you really, really breathe? I mean, do you breathe deeply and slowly and with awareness? If you want to be calm when you are stressed, practice calm when you are not too stressed. 
  4. Consider an adrenal support protocol. If stress is your M.O., talk to someone about adrenal support supplements. Acupuncture can also help manage stress with its release of endorphins and chance to reset and restore the body and mind.
  5. Use sleep supplements, if needed. I know that jet lag, a different bed, hectic travel, a change in routine, and even just being super excited about travelling can all make sleep more difficult. I bring a sleep tincture (with valerian, passion flower, lemon balm, and oats) and/or melatonin. If I don’t need it, no worries. But if I do, I’m grateful to have it handy!

And of course, try to eat healthy and get exercise. 

If you’re travelling to a different time zone, check out my blog on jet lag acupressure.

May you enjoy your healthy travel time. Let me know your favourite travel tips. And favourite places to travel (I love to add to my travel wish list!).

 

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What is adrenal fatigue?

adrenal fatigue stress acupunctureWhat are Adrenals?

Adrenals are small grape-sized glands that sit atop your kidneys. They are responsible for producing adrenaline, cortisol, and DHEA, and they help your body manage stressors. They have a huge role!

Defining Adrenal Fatigue

Fatigue. Defined as “extreme tiredness, typically resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness” and “a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.”(1) Adrenal fatigue is caused by over-stimulation of the adrenal glands. Too much stress, too much activity, too much push. Not enough down time, not enough rest, not enough recovery. Adrenal burnout and fatigue is commonly associated with a feeling of tiredness, but this is not its only symptom. 

Other symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

    • high blood pressure
    • irritable bowel syndrome
    • depression
    • anxiety
    • infections, frequent illness
    • migraines
    • headaches
    • hormonal imbalance, including PMS
    • infertility
    • diabetes
    • thyroid issues

Stress: Good or Evil?

Stress is important. A stress response by our bodies allows us to quickly move into fight or flight–face the problem to defeat it or get the heck outta there. We need a stress response for survival. The problem arises when we continue past acute phase into chronic ongoing stress–paying bills, heavy workload, not enough sleep, relationship challenges, and so forth. 

So stress is neither good or evil. It’s mostly about how we perceive and handle stress. What does this read here? 

Stress management, adrenal fatigue

Depends on how you look at it, right? 

How is Stress Affecting You?

Sometimes when I ask patients if they are feeling stressed, they will answer “no.” But then they describe how they are trying to juggle everything and getting little sleep, and how they don’t feel energized when they wake up in the morning, how they often catch colds, how they are experiencing digestive distress, or some other symptom or symptoms.

There are many levels of stress intensity and effect.

Alarm Phase of Stress 

The body is starting to give you hints that you need to pay attention. You’re in the fight or flight phase and may be struggling with focus and memory, having some struggle with restful sleep, notice it’s hard to slow down your mind, and be experiencing digestive, immune, or hormonal challenges and more.

Resistance Phase of Stress

As stress continues its pressure, the adrenal glands start shunting hormone production away from DHEA and its subsequent sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone. Symptoms are worse in this phase and also include lowered libido, infertility, and abdominal weight gain.

Burn-Out Phase

With ongoing adrenal fatigue, the body can no longer produce enough cortisol. Extreme fatigue, depression, irritability, and all the other symptoms even worse are the result.

Whether you are at the beginning alarm phase, the middle resistance phase, or the later burn-out phase, there are things you can do.

Traditional Chinese Medicine to Help Manage Stress and Adrenal Fatigue

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) provides a complex system of assessment. Bloated, craving sugar, foggy headed, tired? Spleen Qi deficiency might be part of your TCM diagnosis. Migraines, irritability, PMS, tension? Liver Qi stagnation is a common diagnosis. Fatigue, infertility, low back pain, salt cravings, issues with blood pressure? Kidney Qi deficiency is usually a part of the burn-out phase of adrenal fatigue. 

If stress is negatively affecting your health, the first step is a TCM assessment. Then, choices of treatment include acupuncture (yes, this is an endorphin-releasing chance to relax), Chinese herbs, supplements, nutritional support, and more.

Stressed Out song by Twenty One Pilots

And because I was curious and you might be too, the dark on his hands and throat represent his insecurities about his writing and his voice. Don’t we all stress about even those things that we do daily and do well.

I don’t want to go backward (though I think I’d like my Big Wheels back), but it’s a good idea to find ways to think like a kid, simplify life, and care a little less about what people think.

 

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Treating depression, anxiety, stress with wonder

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s easy to feel wonder and awe when looking at, listening to, feeling, or tasting something new, unusual, or unique. I have had the opportunity to visit many awe-inspiring and wondrous places, both natural—like the Serengeti and Kilauea Volcano—and man-made—like Gaudi’s Familia Sagrada and Machu Picchu. That feeling of “wow!” that grabs your attention is undeniable.

But how often do we feel wonder in our normal everyday lives? The other day I was driving to yoga when I had one of those moments. It happened spontaneously, that feeling of wonder, about something that I do on a near daily basis. I felt wonder about the fact that I was moving a heavy metal object with me inside of it with just the push of a pedal and a turn of a wheel.

This was nothing new, unusual, nor unique, and yet there it was—wonder. If you think about it though, it is pretty amazing, and there are plenty of wondrous things around us if we care to look. One of the benefits of looking for elements of wonder in our day is that it brings our attention to the present moment. We need to slow down for a bit to notice. And, along with wonder is often a feeling of gratitude for just that experience.

In this fast-paced world of nose-in-phone, short-attention-span living, taking these moments becomes even more important to help us bring balance to our lives. Feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, sadness, fear, worry, anger, frustration, detachment, and loneliness can be managed. It’s hard to feel those emotions at the same time as experiencing a feeling of wonder.

The moment I had was not planned—I was not trying to feel awe. It just happened. We can, however, cultivate this by setting aside a brief time to stop, take in some deep breaths, and observe. Pay attention to nature, animals, people, and even your own body so that you can notice some of the things that are amazing. Then allow yourself to really feel that feeling.

Every day I see people at my clinic who are overwhelmed. I would like to prescribe a daily dose of wonder.

 

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24 Hours and CKNW: On Stress

Stress is a “four letter” word for most of us. Stress causes fatigue, frustration, and frazzled nerves. But, it is really how we perceive stress that makes it bad. My latest 24 Hours newspaper article covered some of the basic ways that you can better manage stress and some tips for handling some of stress’ consequences. For that article click here: Proactive Measures Tackle Stress Head On (for the PDF version).

 

 

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What points address stress?

What points address stress?

There are many points on your body that can help address stress. As a Dr. TCM, I would ask you questions and assess you before choosing from some of these (or other) points for relieving stress:

– DU20 (bai hui): I call this the “lifting point” as it helps to lift your energy at the same time as it calms your mind.

– Yintang: I nicknamed this one the “aren’t you going to do that point” point as after receiving this point once, if I start to leave the room without doing that point during subsequent sessions, patients often ask me that

– Kidney points (various points on your legs and torso): On top of your kidneys sit the adrenals and these glands are busy little bees, often overworked organs, so supporting the Kidney points supports the adrenals. Kidney imbalance signs might include fatigue, anxiety/fear, low back pain, weak or achy joints, feeling unable to take a deep breath, and hormonal imbalance, including low libido.

– Spleen points (various points on your legs and torso): In TCM, the Spleen is associated with worry and over-thinking and also affects your digestion (the TCM Spleen includes the physical organ, the pancreas). Spleen weakness signs include foggy-headedness, fatigue and feeling weighted down, bloating, diarrhea, and gas.

– Liver points (various points on your legs and torso): The TCM Liver is like a military general, liking order and routine. Modern day life means that we don’t rest with sunset and rise with sunrise or always eat regular meals regularly, chewing our food well. Sometimes grabbing a glass of wine or bottle of beer might seem like a good way to de-stress, but these affect your liver. In addition, if you notice that you are feeling irritable, frustrated, or angry, you may need to support your Liver.

– Heart points (various points on your arms and torso): The TCM Heart is important to pump your blood to keep you alive. It is also your “House of emotions.” The emotion of the Heart is joy, but all extremes of emotion affect the Heart. Since the Heart is also known as the “King” organ of TCM–without it, you would quickly die–taking care of this system is vital.

– Lung points (various points on your arms and torso): The TCM Lungs, just as your real organ lungs, are clearly important for breathing. But the TCM Lungs also address sadness and grief. If your stress is impacted by these emotions, opening the Lung channels can allow a wonderful healing release. Other signs up Lung troubles include problems with breathing (asthma, shortness of breath, etc), sensations of tightness in chest, skin issues, and immune system imbalances like getting sick often or autoimmune disorders.

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