Holistic Self Care for Health and Vitality

We’ve all heard about self care, but what does it mean to you? And how do we weave self care into our lives so that it doesn't become just another thing on our ‘to-do’ list? 

  ‘You are calm and relaxed’ … 

              Breathe in …       Hold your breath …       Breathe  out …    

            ‘You  are  in  the  forest …  Nature  is  breathing  all  around  you … you hear  birds                                singing quietly in the distance … You.  Are.  Inspired.  

            All  at  once  you  have  abundant  time  to  do  everything  that  needs  to  be  done,   abundant  energy  to do  all  that  you  dream,  and  abundant  joy  filling  your heart …’    

                                                                                                            … This  is  you.

 Self care means different things to different people. Embracing a holistic self care routine, or increasing the routine you already have, can have huge ongoing (and far reaching!) benefits to your health. Often we wait until we are sick, unhappy, fatigued, or just not functioning at our best to truly get into action and regularly take care of ourselves… (and often we have missed out on a whole lot of joy that comes when we are feeling at our best!). 

So what is Holistic Self Care?

Holistic self care generally refers to any activities, routines or approaches that are undertaken to support and maintain physical, mental, emotional or spiritual health: from yoga and having a massage, to reorganising a more balanced schedule, visiting your health practitioner more frequently, and getting emotional support.

It could include going dancing, or embarking on a career that is more suited to you, to taking action rather that procrastinating, perhaps detoxing, or letting go of things that you just don't need in your life anymore -  these are all examples of holistic self care. 

Beyond maintaining your physical health, self care can also be as simple and valuable as doing something that you enjoy, that is relaxing, and makes you breathe a little deeper. Putting that time into looking after yourself is the way to a more balanced and enjoyable life. 

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Why is Self Care So Important?

You are precious. Your life is precious. The quality of your life is important. You deserve to be healthy and enjoy your life!

We all have dreams we wish to fulfill, relationships we want to enjoy, people around us that we love to support, roles to play in our communities and a huge potential within ourselves.

To enjoy all that life demands of us, we need to be holistically healthy. In these modern times, life can feel overwhelming. We all know it too well:

  • Social and world stresses

  • Busyness

  • Disconnection from nature and community

  • Work pressures

  • Family responsibilities

  • Lack of physical health

  • and the increase in interaction with technology (to name a few!). 

We are seeing people experiencing some of the highest levels of stress and burnout, adrenal fatigue, hormone imbalance, and depression ever recorded. Among handling the challenges that modern life presents, our health and happiness is often compromised. Health problems begin.

Too often people wait until an injury or personal crisis occurs before they implement positive lifestyle practices. A slight health condition is an indicator that we are out of harmony, and without addressing what is causing it (physically or emotionally), things may only get worse.

Feeling anxious or stressed year after year takes a toll on the body, affecting our hormones, brain chemistry, sleep quality … Not to mention impacting our relationships and our ability to live and create our lives positively. 

When we maintain and implement self care practices, the benefits are far reaching, sometimes immediate, and often long term.

Self Care to Support Relaxation and Balance

Our biological system functions optimally when we are relaxed and balanced, happy and calm.

Dr Libby Weaver (Nutritional Biochemist and author of Women’s Wellness Wisdom) talks of ‘Rushing Women’s Syndrome’. She has researched and talked at depth on the effects of a never ending to-do list on women’s health. Through a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective we see this manifest as yin deficiency, creating a host of problems.

According to Traditional Chinese medicine, “acupuncture is believed to restore the balance between Yin and Yang.” This can be translated into Western medicine terminology as “acupuncture modulates the imbalance between the parasympathetic and sympathetic activity”. (1)

  • The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for stimulating our stress responses - you may have heard of fight or flight.

  • Our parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the subconscious restorative processes that occur during a relaxed or restful state.

When we are happier and less stressed, we have a healthy balance between these two states.

In our modern lifestyles many people’s nervous systems are locked in a stress fight-or-flight response. This is taxing on the body and it seldom gets a change to relax and restore. Anxiety, sleep disturbances, too much caffeine intake, all hinder the body's ability to relax and restore naturally.

Self care practices and therapies such as meditation, breath work, acupuncture - anything that relaxes us - supports the body’s systems to take time out to rejuvenate and prevent burn out.

A balanced state allows us to have a pro-active approach to life: when we are less stressed we can be responsive rather that reactive. We make better decisions and life choices.

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When we are relaxed and calm we are healthier, our bodies restore while we sleep. We can be fit, excited, energetic, busy and still be relaxed and calm. Unless our lives are at risk, stressed is not a natural state, yet we have adopted stress and busyness as normal.

A holistic self care practice is often something that brings you relaxation and calm. It could be:

  • a walk on the beach;

  • finishing that odd job that has been niggling at you for weeks;

  • creating a more uplifting living environment;

  • returning that phone call that you've been putting off;

  • perhaps embarking on that artwork you've been meaning to start for years.

Sometimes, it’s not as easy as having a relaxing bath  - perhaps we need to put down the phone scrolling and go for a brisk walk on the beach, or even re-evaluate life decisions and the things that are important to us.

We feel calm when we are taking care of things that need to be taken care of, and enhancing our quality of living. 

Self Care through Natural Therapies  

Natural Therapies can play a huge role in self care: 

Acupuncture

Acupuncture treats the whole system of a person, creating harmony in organ function and free flow of energy to support health.

Acupuncture may be utilised to promote healing for specific health conditions, and can be a great maintenance treatment to support ongoing wellness and relaxation.

Your Acupuncture practitioner can also provide you with invaluable self care suggestions personalised to you, based on the in depth wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine and living with the seasons.

Massage

Most of us love a good massage and no wonder - massage supports relaxation and stress relief through the muscles and body, not to mention the huge emotional benefits. It is easy to let time go by and realise that its been a year or so since we treated ourselves to a massage. Booking in a regular maintenance massage provides multiple health benefits whilst making sure we are getting that added nurturing that supports us in our lives.

Acutonics®

Acutonics® is a sound healing therapy that utilises the healing frequencies of sound directly on the body. Based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, tuning forks are used to transmit sound through the body’s meridians and acupuncture points. The experience of receiving an Acutonics® treatment is relaxing and soothing, like a sound massage for the nervous system. Following treatment, many clients report an improved emotional state, energy levels, and overall wellbeing, and find it particularly valuable with emotional transitions and stuck patterning. 

We are fortunate to have so many and varied quality Natural Therapies available to us here on the Gold Coast. Meditation, Yoga, and Breathing practices can all contribute to a more sustained state of wellness. Find what works for you and enjoy the health benefits! When we are relaxed, we breathe deeper, are happier, think more clearly, and give ourselves the best platform to succeed at all that we hold dear.

Staying Inspired and Furthering your Holistic Self Care Practice

As humans we love to be evolving. Nothing gets us down like feeling stuck. Staying inspired is key to happiness, and as we change personally, our needs and priorities change. We need to keep aligning our lives and our self care with the directions we are moving in. 

You may already have great self care practices in place (Well done!). To further your self care it can be helpful to book in a time each week to check in with yourself. This can be fun! Take yourself on a date to somewhere you enjoy - the beach, your favourite cafe - ask yourself questions like … 

  • Have my needs changed since I last addressed self care? 

  • Do I need to change anything in my week to look after myself or my goals? 

  • Is there anything I can do to look after my future self? 

  • What makes me happy (in small and large ways?) and how can I include them day to day?

  • Have I been in nature lately? 

  • Are there things that I can let go of, or things that I can begin that would enhance my life?

  • Is there anything that I’m not making time for that makes my life easier when I do?

  • Is my career stimulating and aligned with my priorities? Is there anything I can do to improve it?

  • Is there anything I could do simply for fun?

     

Start Small and Enjoy The Rewards!

The list of self care approaches are endless - how you approach self care will be highly personalised to you.

It can feel overwhelming to implement changes, yet when we consciously make changes and live purposefully we discover an inner strength and reap huge rewards. It is often when we are relaxing or having fun that the answers and inspirations to solve the more difficult aspects of life come to us.

It can help to remember that your self care practice brings more energy and greater quality of life – for you, and for the people around you.

Challenging yourself to prioritise holistic self care into your life may mean some changes, such as: 

  • waking up a little earlier to exercise;

  • investing in some health care treatments;

  • saying no to things to make more time for yourself;

  • or putting some time aside to reevaluate your goals.

     

These are things however which will bring inspiration and holistic health benefits, rather than take a further toll. This is your self care - for you! Try it! Start small, and once you feel the far reaching benefits ofmaintained self care there will be no stopping you!

Jodie Ramona is an Acutonics® Sound Practitioner, Biofield Tuning Practitioner and Wellness Consultant with a passion for people enjoying healthy and inspired lives 

Sources: 

1.       https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3677642/

 

 



How to Reduce Stress and Burnout with Acupuncture

Have you always wanted to know more about the stress-relieving power of TCM? You’re reading the right post! TCM stands for Traditional Chinese Medicine, one of the oldest surviving medicinal systems in the world. TCM’s longevity has attracted millions of twenty-first-century followers, and this traditional form of medicine boasts myriad benefits that people all over the world can enjoy.

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Photo Credit: Antonika Chanel via Unsplash under License

Helping both body and mind

Today, many people turn to TCM for its uniquely holistic approach to a person’s health. TCM is grounded in Daoist belief and posits the existence of 20 interconnected meridians (or channels) throughout the body. If any of these meridians become imbalanced, the whole body is thrown off kilter – with stress a sure-fire trigger for this imbalance.

Because Traditional Chinese Medicine aims to restore balance to the body and mind, it constitutes the ideal stress treatment. Via techniques like acupuncture, acupressure, and meditation, TCM has helped many individuals rediscover their more energetic selves.

Acupuncture, in particular, has proven popular with Western patients as a proven way to increase blood circulation and to stimulate the release of endorphins and other natural opioids. A newer trend within acupunctural treatment is cosmetic acupuncture, which with its anti-ageing power has been called the natural alternative to surgery or botox (goodbye, stress lines!).  If you’re looking for a caring, holistic approach to health and wellness, TCM and its associated techniques might be the method you need to help manage stress.

Creating Calm

It’s no secret that modern lifestyles are often incompatible with inner peace and physical well-being. Busy jobs, city living, and an ever-expanding list of digital distractions can make it all too easy to lose ourselves in a spiral of stress and negative self-feeling. This is where TCM comes in.

TCM, in particular, aims to relieve stress (2) and anxiety by helping to regulate hormone levels and reducing cortisol levels. TCM aims to release tension and calm the mind, promote physical and emotional well-being and improve sleep (3).

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Photo Credit: Kyson Dana via Unsplash under License

Treating the cause, not the symptom

Although TCM and acupuncture (4) can do wonders to alleviate stress symptoms (1), they alone can’t alleviate your angst. No medicinal cure will help your stress and anxiety so much as actually identifying the root causes of these issues and addressing them accordingly.

Start by stepping back and deconstructing each aspect of your daily lifestyle. What works well for you and what makes you feel stressed and anxious? Once you look at your life a little more critically, you may realise your angst is caused by things like overwork, unnatural environments, a poor diet, or a lack of human connection.

No matter what is causing your stress, every person can benefit from making a few simple changes. These include spending more time exercising, hanging out with friends, and disconnecting from social media self-extensions whenever you can.

We tend to forget how unnatural the modern habitus is: full of concrete, screens, and antisocial, individualistic behaviour.  We could all do with rediscovering what it means to be human again. So, shake off those work shoes and remember how it feels to run barefoot along the grass with the people you love best – that way, you’ll deal with the problem of stress at its source.

Harper Reid is a freelance writer from Auckland, New Zealand who loves spending quiet time meditating in her backyard – or in her cosy room when it rains!  Writing is her therapy, with her work on home living, health, and business topics published across dozens of sites.  Discover more of Harper’s work here.

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Resources:

1.      British Acupunture Council. Stress [Internet]. Welcome to the British Acupuncture
Council. [cited 2019Jan9]. Available from: https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/stress.html

2.      Healthline. Researchers Find Proof that Acupuncture Blocks Stress [Internet].
Healthline. Healthline Media; [cited 2019Jan9]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/mental-researchers-find-proof-acupuncture-blocks-stress-031413

3.      Kecskes AA. Traditional Chinese Medicine Can Help Adrenal Fatigue [Internet].
Pacific College. 2017 [cited 2019Jan9]. Available from: https://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2014/10/24/traditional-chinese-medicine-can-help-adrenal-fatigue

4.      Sparrow K, Golianu B. Does Acupuncture Reduce Stress Over ... - PubMed Central
(PMC )[Internet]. National Library of Medicine. 2014 [cited 2019Jan9]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4203477/

Why You Should Eat Fats to Improve Fertility

Essential fatty acids are an important factor in fertility. A balanced ratio promotes healthy skin and hair growth, adrenal activity and immunity, healthy blood, nerves and arteries, and are vital for the transport and breakdown of cholesterol. When essential fatty acids are low disorders such as dry skin and hair, frequent colds and flus, low body weight, impaired growth, and infertility may occur.

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Considering Acupuncture and IVF?

Embarking upon IVF treatment is not a decision that is made lightly, so it’s only natural for prospective parents to want to do everything they can to promote their chances of a successfully outcome.

To date there has been very little research into the area of acupuncture and IVF, however I thought I would explain some of the theory behind the Chinese medicine approach, to help you decide if it is something you’d like to explore.

Chinese medicine takes into consideration the overall health of the individual, as the individual after all will be the one producing the healthy eggs or sperm for the IVF process.

As an acupuncturist, I like to start working with you at least 3 months before your IVF cycle, to help prepare you for the physical and emotional demands of the process. As your overall health and wellbeing may affect your chances of becoming pregnant, together we will aim to improve things such as your digestive health, emotional resilience, and sleep habits, using traditional Chinese medicine techniques.

Benefits of Acupuncture

ACUPUNCTURE AND IVF FOR MEN

Addressing male fertility seems more straight forward than female fertility, as there is no monthly cycle to work around.

Fertility in men depends on the quality and quantity of sperm produced. In the months before IVF starts, it’s a good idea to improve your diet and modify any lifestyle factors which may impact the health and mobility of your swimmers. Your acupuncturist will discuss with you any areas for adjustment, based on your personal health and individual circumstances.  

ACUPUNCTURE AND IVF FOR WOMEN

Acupuncture treatments in the initial stages of IVF are focused on improving Qi and blood flow to the ovaries in the hope that this will enhance follicle growth and quality, as well as endometrial thickness. Diet and lifestyle factors may be addressed, as ideally you want to have your body in tip top condition, and for your emotional landscape to be as balanced as possible.

The second phase of acupuncture treatment occurs between trigger and egg pickup (roughly day 11-14). This is a small window (around 36 hours) where the ovaries are triggered to mimic ovulation in preparation for collection. Many women feel quite tense and anxious at this time, and then feel tense and anxious that this may affect their chances of becoming pregnant! This is why acupuncture treatments at this stage aim to relieve stress, and any other symptoms and side-effects such as insomnia, dizziness, headaches, abdominal pain, and nausea.

The third phase of acupuncture treatment occurs after egg collection (roughly day 14-16) and aims to reduce the effects of medication such as swelling and abdominal bloating. Directing energy and blood to the abdomen is thought to promote healing, as well as prepare the endometrium for transfer of the embryo.

IVF Cycle Treatments

The next phase of the IVF cycle is embryo transfer (roughly day 19). Acupuncture treatment may be offered on the same day, both before and after transfer, as it may help the patient to relax and reduce their stress response, which some fear can discourage the implantation of the embryo during IVF.

The final stage is implantation. This occurs roughly 4-8 days after the embryo transfer, around the time the embryo would naturally implant in the uterus. Acupuncture treatment now aims to direct blood flow to the uterus, where a thick, nutrient rich lining is necessary for the embryo to attach and grow; and again, relaxation is a key focus.

I have had many female clients report that acupuncture treatment for IVF gives them an opportunity to discuss in a confidential and safe environment:

·         how the cycle is unfolding,

·         if and where it is varying from past cycles

·         their physical and emotional wellbeing.

People do not always understand the pressures surrounding IVF treatment, and partners are not always able to provide support in a calm and reassuring manner. An acupuncturist may be able to assist with information on lifestyle factors, in addition to offering emotional support to help your IVF treatment go as smoothly as possible.

SOURCES: 

  • Lyttleton, J 2013, Treatment of Infertility with Chinese Medicine, 2nd edn, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, Edinburgh.

  • Maciocia, G 1998, Obstetrics & Gynecology in Chinese Medicine, Churchill Livingstone, New York.

  • Szmelskyj, I & Aquilina, L 2015, Acupuncture for IVF and Assisted Reproduction: An integrated approach to treatment and management, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, Edinburgh.

 

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