This is an article I wrote for the last issue of The Road Runner, the newsletter of the Santa Cruz County Cycling Club. I thought it could be of benefit to a wider audience so here ya go!
Our modern health care system is mostly an illness care system. Complementary medicine on the other hand focuses on prevention and supports our wellness. In ancient China, people used to pay their doctor to keep them well. And if they got sick then the doctor didn’t get paid. Quite a reverse of how things are now! Wellness is more than being free from illness. It is a dynamic process of making daily choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life.
As a licensed acupuncturist I would define a healthy person as an individual living in harmony with their environment and with their “Qi” flowing freely through the meridians. They feel vital and energized and are calm with even emotions. For most of us, the last few months have taken it’s toll and it can be a challenge to stay calm and grounded.
The situation with COVID-19 continues to shift and as we are faced with an ever changing environment a low level of anxiety is a reality for many. Given the circumstances, it would bestrange NOT to have strong emotions at least sometimes. For some the stress is minimal and is humming along in the background. For others it is manifesting as a general feeling ranging from mild despair and depression to a strong overwhelment.
I’d like to offer you a few suggestions to uplift your body, mind and spirit. (** This is not intended to be medical advice so if any of your symptoms are prounounced or prolonged it’s important to go to your doctor.)
Gotta move that Qi! We are lucky that as cyclists we are already active. Even a short ride is beneficial for the body and can clear your mind. I also encourage you to maximize circulation by moving naturally throughout the day. The ancient Chinese medical classics talked about the dangers of the five taxations — excessive use of eyes, lying down too long, sitting too long, standing too long, or prolonged exercise. And these are still true today thousands of years later. The way to undo that damage is by walking more in short spurts, taking frequent mini stretch breaks and taking the stairs rather than the elevator.
Stop doom scrolling! It’s good to stay informed but honestly how much news do you really need to be aware of current events? Turn off the TV and put away your phone for a few hours. You will be amazed at what a difference this makes!
It’s really important to support your nervous system on an ongoing basis. An easy way to do that is Chamomile Tea. You can brew 2-3 bags at a time and then dilute it and sip it all day at room temperature. Aaaahhhh…calming and soothing. It’s one of Mother Nature’s gifts to us.(There is a whole category of herbs, nervines and adaptogens, that supports the nervous system. If you’re feeling anxious or having trouble sleeping I’m happy to do a quick consult with you and drop ship you some herbs that will help take the edge off of stress. An ongoing high stress level is not sustainable!)
I know for many of us the regular SCCCC weekly rides (wise move by the board to put them on hold for the time being) were a way to connect with our friends, meet new people and be part of a community.The pandemic complicates social gatherings. So we turn to Facebook or Zoom and that might help in one regard but thereare interesting statistics about the more time one spends online the more isolated they report feeling.
One way to lessen the intensity of loneliness is to make an effort to reach out to others. It could be a call to a neighbor to check in or a kind hello and a smile (behind a mask of course!) to someone on a hiking trail. It’s a practice of expanding your energy outwards and extending a bit beyond your comfort zone. By offering a kindness to others, they will feel better and we benefit as well. Try it!
Recent studies show that people who pay attention to their spiritual side (you get to define what this means to you!) have lower rates of cardiovascular disease, depression, and their immune systems function at a higher level. We are surrounded by beauty so try to get out into nature every single day. Go to church. Learn how to meditate. Read something inspirational. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. The important thing is to open your awareness beyond the status quo.
Self Care is absolutely essential during times like these. I hope some you will be able to implement some of these ideas. And if you’d like extra support from me via an Online Wellness Session, please just reach out. I’m here to help!