Yay! Autumn!! Who doesn’t like this colourful nature’s show that visits us every year! However, as much as I love Autumn, I know it precedes Winter… brrrr!! So, why not use Autumn to prepare for Winter? Create a strategy, write it down, call it My Winter Wellbeing Plan – yes, use capitals, it has more weight in your conscience! In this WWP of yours, you can add items such as the following:
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maintain an exercise routine which is right for you. You might want to hire a personal trainer once or twice or more, to guide you on what kind of workout would best benefit your unique needs.
make a list of warming soup recipes.
use therapies and tools that keep you strong, healthy and happy.
schedule time with the people you value. Winter can always make us feel like we don’t want to go out so much, and that’s fine, call them, video chat, whatever, but nourish those relationships because in Winter we might feel a little down and we might need support to deal with the darkest seasons of all four. Also, it is not all about taking but also about giving and in order to support the people we love, we have to be strong too.
As we head into the cold and damp season, our bodies can become vulnerable to the environment and we might be more prone to illness if we are not proactive throughout the year. Most of you know that acupuncture can be used to treat pain and specific internal conditions, but did you know that it is also used to boost the immune system and better prepare us for the onslaught of Winter’s cold and dampness? Hay fever, sinus headaches, cold and flu, cold headaches, coldness in the limbs, coldness in the torso, seasonal and environmental allergies and other Winter-related health complaints can be helped with acupuncture. It works!!
See, cold causes the tissues to contract so the blood circulation slows down and our muscles seize up a little. Cold, in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), is said to obstruct the flow of Qi and Blood throughout the body due to constriction. Dampness, also in TCM, causes obstruction because it is a heavier substance that can sit in body tissues such as muscles, bowels, meridians, the Mind - causing mental slowness and fatigue and even confusion and heavy headaches…
TCM has long understood immunity, and acupuncture, while thousands of years old, is especially relevant in the modern world where our immunity is further compromised by the busy and often stressful lives we lead.
In TCM, we speak of “Qi” as the life force that runs through all living things. One type of Qi, “Wei Qi”, serves as our body’s protector; a defensive barrier. This Qi circulates in the space between the skin and the muscles and it can become weakened as we sustain stress and are exposed to germs, viruses, environmental pathogens and pollution - especially when combined with a sedentary lifestyle.
Most of our immunity goodies are extracted from the foods and fluids we intake so, a balanced diet and an appropriate way of eating are fundamental to our health which is why when strengthening the immune system, we, acupuncturists, will work with points, such as Stomach 36 below the knee, that “tonify” the digestive Qi to ensure we’re able to absorb the necessary nutrients for maintaining good health.
Different acupuncture treatments can help regulate the body’s stress response, creating a balance that allows for normal, healthy function of the nervous system so that the enteric nervous system (the digestive system’s neuro-messaging) works as it should.
Other acupuncture points we might include in the treatment, especially if the client is aged, will be to support the Kidneys, such as Kidney 3 in the ankle, because the Kidneys become more active in Winter as the Fire of Ming Men has to stay topped up so that we don’t get internal coldness, fatigue, low back pain, knee pain, bladder issues, oedema in the legs and so on. The Kidney’s Fire of Ming Men helps balance the increased Water and Dampness the Winter season brings.
Did you know that scientific research shows that acupuncture increases white blood cells allowing the immune system to react swiftly to threats?
Here is a list of foods, based in TCM, that support our systems during Autumn in the build up to Winter:
I strongly recommend setting up a Winter Wellbeing Plan and starting preventative acupuncture therapy one or two months before the season that brings the symptoms starts. This should be one weekly session for 6 weeks or so. And then, it is a matter of “topping it up” as we say, once a month if needed. If not, then roll on! There is still time for you to start a regime of immune self-care and I will be happy to help.
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Look out for another blog shortly with self-care acupuncture points for when cold and flu strike!