Seasonal Affective Disorder
The holiday season is upon us. With it comes shorter days, longer hours of dark and for some of us, a struggle to feel balanced. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) –produced by the reduced sunlight in the Northern hemisphere this time of year– does impact how we feel. The recent time change combined with the colder weather and gray skies might make us feel fatigued, lacking motivation, and an overall sense of feeling down. The Vitamin D produced in our bodies after exposure to sunlight, plays an important role in regulating our mood and well-being.
What can we do to improve our mood, energy, and happiness as the days get shorter and the night gets longer?
Here are 7 ways to shine your light in this season of Yin.
1. Nourish the YIN.
Be gentle with yourself this time of year. In Chinese medicine, the winter is a time to slow down, rest and sleep more. We are moving into the deeper YIN time of the year, where the element of Metal is present.
Fall: Metal, Lung, Grief
The color associated with Metal is white, the organ is the Lung, and the emotion is Grief. Regardless of how you feel overtly, there has been a tremendous amount of collective grief the past number of years. We have a lot to grieve. Honoring this, feeling this, validating this is important to our vitality. It’s OKAY and imperative to grieve and grieve well.
2. Emphasize hearty, warm and nourishing foods
This helps us stay in sync with the season, connected, and grounded. If you are sleeping more and eating a bit more, remember that this is a natural part of your body’s rhythm for this time of year.
As you may know (or suspect) Acupuncture helps regulate mood, balance hormones, and put the body into “rest and digest” mode, bringing a sense of balance & peaceful contentment. It reconnects the body, mind and spirit. Acupuncture sessions can support the lungs both physically and energetically and help you process grief.
Just as the sun breaks the horizon, go outside. Look around the sun – trace your eyes like a clock – this helps reset your circadian rhythm. Think of it as relighting your inner flame with the light of the sun. As the days get darker our light will shine brighter.
5. Try a sun lamp
They are most effective when set 20 inches from your face and used for 20-30 minutes in the morning. Sun Lamps mimic natural sunlight and give the body the impression of being out in the sun. This helps improve mood when used consistently.
6. Walk outside even when it’s cloudy
Getting outside to get some natural light even if it’s not bright and sunny in combination with exercise helps improve mood. An hour walk in the morning works wonders to elevate mood but even 10 minutes a day makes a difference.
7. Take some Vitamin D
You can test your vitamin D levels to see where you’re at. Supplement to ensure you’re getting enough. (Please check with your MD before starting any new supplements.)
In this season of Yin, shine your light.
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How We Prepare and Hold the Treatment Space
Entering the treatment space is similar to entering a martial arts dojo and an old growth forest.
In a dojo, we enter with reverence and respect.
We leave our prejudices and preconceived notions outside.
When we are open to possibility, nothing is impossible.
Trust, integrity, and curiosity are values that are held in highest regard.
We operate from Precautionary Principle – we protect the most vulnerable among us.*
Each time we enter a dojo, we agree to leave the outside world behind.
In the treatment space, we do the same:
Each time we enter, we leave the outside world behind. We invite you to do the same. This is your time, a time for healing. And you are the healer.
It’s how we enter an old growth forest.
We allow the sounds, peace and beauty to work on us. To infuse us with vitality, to refresh us, replenish us. We take this time for ourselves. We take this time to experience true healing.
We invite you to leave a fixed mindset at the door:
Please silence your cell phone and leave religion and politics at the door. We are here to discuss you and your wellness goals.
We welcome you with a growth mindset of unlimited possibility. This is your time. Welcome.
How to Prepare for your Acupuncture treatment:
1. Avoid Caffeine 3 hours prior to your treatment.
2. Be sure to eat before your treatment.
3. *Please wear a mask.
4. Drink plenty of water.
5. Practice deep breathing.
Breathing Technique: Creating a simple practice that you know by rote can help maintain lower stress levels, relieve anxiety and boost the immune system. This is helpful to start the day, practice 20 minutes or so before your treatment, or right before bed. Try this simple yet powerful 60% breathing technique.
Getting adequate, rest, hydration and supporting your stress response will go a long way in helping you heal.
We're Here to Help. 828-668-5322
Call our office to find out more or schedule your appointment online.
Tune into Spring, the Wood Element, and Heal Anger
Spring is the element of WOOD and the color GREEN.
The ancient Taoists (Prounounced “dao-ists”) looked to nature to understand the human body, mind and spirit. They were philosophers and we need to be clear, Taoism is not a religion. When we tune into the movement of the seasons, we reconnect with and maintain our vitality. Just as with our circadian rhythms, our seasonal rhythms affect our health. Eating with the seasons is an excellent foundation to thriving health.
Spring- Wood – Green, Liver,
Liver out of balance = Anger
Liver in balance = Flow
In Spring, Yang is Rising
Let’s look around, what do you see? Trees starting to leaf out, flowers begining their bloom, greens pushing up? This is YANG rising. This is the start of the great in-breath – the height of which is the heat and outward orientation of summer. Yang is rising, the rivers are flowing, the birds are chirping and making nests, we all come out of hibernation.
The LIVER is the organ associated with spring. If our liver is in balance we experience free flow of qi (energy, emotions). If our liver needs some support, we may be quick to anger, snap at loved ones, or experience a low slow simmer of anger. Also, referred to Liver Qi Stagnation. I suffered with this for years. It’s true. Part of this is constitutional, meaning I have a tendency towards this, my family has a tendency, essentially – lots of – um- venting. Living in the south has been a balm to my constitution. I deeply enjoy – and have learned from- the kindness and generosity of spirit I have met in this region.
One of the solutions to opening up the free flow of liver qi is to take an aimless walk. This is for real, and it works wonders at opening up the free flow of liver qi. There is also a wonderful Chinese Medicine herbal formula called, Free and Easy Wanderer. Also, very helpful. These work wonders in conjunction with acupuncture which will support your liver and it’s reflexes. Feel free to ask us more about these remedies.
Foods to add in to your diet are – Greens, Greens, Greens. Greens impart, light, flexible energy to us. Bitter Greens and herbs, support the liver directly. Dandelion, Broccoli Rabe, and Nettles are especially helpful. Chickweed is growing abundantly, add this to your salads or smoothies. When working with the more bitter greens, please be sure to have them with plenty of healthy fat, it cuts the bitterness and adds a nutritional punch. Health fats would include Avocado oil, coconut oil, ghee, grass fed butter, and for those who tolerate it- bacon fat. A wonderful tincture to support the liver is Milk Thistle.
But truly, any greens- the fresher the better. These new greens that sprout up are here to help us clear away stagnation. Here is a fantastic Nettles Pesto recipe that I love to make with Fresh Nettles every spring. I usually do a green juice cleanse and my spirit and my body feel lighter and more upbeat.
A wonderful stone for this time of year that would support the free flow of liver qi is Amazonite. Known by the ancients as “Heaven flowing into the river stone.” It is calm, tranquil and supports us.
Here are some other thoughts to help us tune into the beauty of Spring.
- Young plants
- Spring fever- is Yang Rising
- Moved by nature – Emotions, awakening
- Nature sings, puts on a show
- Slough away the old, the dense
- Joyousness and Cheer
- Tending to the garden can bring joy and connection
As we align our hearts with Nature, we arrive more deeply into balance.
Interested in Acupuncture or Health Coaching? We're Here to Help. Schedule Now.
or Call our office 828-333-5087 to discuss your options.
Three Essential Components to Staying Conscious, Mindful, and at Ease
We are living through stressful times. It’s time we elevate our lifestyle to incorporate a foundation of health that will keep us healthy, grounded, and centered in our everyday lives. If we follow this three basic practices, we can come back to center as we navigate through our everyday experiences. If we get triggered, we can come back to center. With a simple daily practice we can bring these into our everyday lives helping to keep us healthy, our immune system ,strong and our spirit resilient. It’s what we need in these times.
The three essential components to staying conscious, mindful and at ease are
Breath Deep, from the Belly
The breath is the Organizing Principle. Proper breathing allows the body to extract Qi (Chi) from the air just as we extract nutrients from food. When we practice mindful breathing we connect the brain and the heart with the kidneys and all the organs can communicate. We feed our life force. Now more than ever, we need to recognize the shift from self-care to essential practice.
A Simple Way to Begin.
- At night before sleep, while resting in bed, place one hand on the belly and one hand on the heart.
- Take a deep cleansing breath and exhale strong. We are ready to begin,
- With your hands still in place, breathe in slowly into the abdomen, feel the belly rise. Inhale to 60% capacity.
- Exhale long and slow. The exhale should be double the length of the in-breath. (Want to know why? In stretching we stretch deeper, we release on the exhale. In Martial Arts we kick or punch on the exhale. The action or the release happens on the exhale.)
As you practice nightly, you allow your body to come into the Parasympathetic state (rest & digest). This was considered self-care prior to 2020 and it is now essential.
You can also watch this Video: Qi Gong Breathing: 7 Minutes to calm body and mind
Welcome, Good Water
Proper Hydration is critical for all of the functions of the body. When dehydrated, the fibers of the muscle look like a dry lake bed. They lose their conductivity. This makes pain feel worse and can hinder or delay recovery. Even if sub-clinical, dehydration can cause muscle pain and tightness. Even if you drink water regularly, you can become dehydrated.
How much should I drink?
Everyone’s hydration’s needs are different. But here is a general idea from what The Mayo Clinic recommends:
Around 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men
Around 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for womenAn easy way to get your water in is to pre-fill your bottles of water for the day and make your way through them. Often we need electrolytes as well so as not to over tax the kidneys. Always be sure to drink clean, purified water without chlorine or fluoride.
Now, more than ever we need adequate sleep. Life is stressful in a macro way, not just a micro way as it used to be. We are all affected by what’s happening in the collective, we need to sleep, to rest and to recharge our body, mind and spirit. Everyone’s sleep needs are different. Some need 8 hours, some need 10 hours. Experiment and see what helps you feel well-rested in the morning.
See what bedtime works best for you. Often climbing into bed by 10pm allows for deeper rest even if reading for 20 minutes. For a good night’s rest, be sure that all cell phones are off and out of the room. Turn off the wifi in your home. Disengage from electronics, news and other stressful events 30min to 1hr before rest. Try some gentle yoga stretching with the lights low, drink some warm decaffeinated tea, practice deep breathing and then rest and repair.
If you’d like support with a breath work daily practice, learning more about hydration or help with better sleep. Call us, we can help.
We're Here to Help. Schedule Now.
or Call our office 828-333-5087 to discuss your options.