Friday, February 1, 2019

January Self-Care Saturdays: inspiration for your home self-care practices

key words:  self-care, practitioner resilience, wellness, mindfulness practices, movement (walking, tai chi, qi gong), spending time outdoors, nutrition for health

The January Self-Care Roundup

Some inspiration from the Self-Care Saturdays theme over at our public Facebook Page

Breathwork, the basics of breathing for self-care
  • As an east Asian medicine practitioner (acupuncturist) I have been teaching my patients diaphragmatic breathing on day one and reinforced practice throughout treatment course with related self-care homework. This breathing practice often also called "belly breathing" has been known for a long time to help us consciously switch our breathing state into the parasympathetic state (rest and digest). Because, in our modern world, most people go about their day in sympathetic state of breathing (fight or flight). Breathwork, the conscious control of your breath, is the foundation of qi gong and mindfulness practices.  More recently, research has been conducted to test these age-old practices, such as this article available on PubMed.      --Megan
  • Now, practice (self-care):
    • Take a few moments to breathe. Check in on your breathing. One hand over heart, one over your belly. Practice belly breathing. Breathe in for a count of 5 and out for a count of 7. Repeat several times.
    • If you want, you can watch this 1 minute video of a sunrise over a bay of the Salish sea while you practice.   
    • Have a wonderful day! Remember you can come back to this breath-centering any time.

Food as Fuel, everything in moderation

  • Everything in moderation.  Coffee is more than just caffeine.  There is wisdom to consuming foods in the traditional way.
    • For example, a cup of warm black coffee (traditional) vs. iced, extra sugar, etc (modern).
    • Water is the best liquid to drink. If you drink caffeinated beverages, you need to be drinking more water than coffee. Drink less coffee than water. Stay hydrated. See your licensed and board-certified acupuncturist for more specific advice.
  • Note on coffee research from NIH:
    • “Two substances from coffee, acting together, may protect against nerve cell damage and improve behavior in animal models of Parkinson’s disease and a related disease called dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). This is according to a new study funded by NCCIH and conducted at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
    • "The two coffee components, eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide (EHT) and caffeine, were evaluated separately and together in mouse models of the two diseases. Both diseases are associated with abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain. The two substances administered together for 6 months, decreased the buildup of alpha-synuclein and led to better nerve cell function, less nerve inflammation, and closer-to-normal behavior.
    • "These findings may help to explain the link between coffee consumption and reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease; however, other components of coffee—a complex mixture of more than a thousand different substances—may also be involved."
  • You can read more about nutrition for health at our Nutrition Learning with Your Family post.

Mindset/inspiration and reflective reading
  • Setting your new year resolutions--know your "why"
"Why? It’s a small word, but a mighty question, especially when it comes to setting a New Year’s resolution.... When you get right down to it, your why is about authenticity. And authenticity falls in lockstep with trusting yourself. What do you need this year and why?" Go to the article.
  • Poetry
"Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness."
-Mary Oliver

Movement:  Tai Chi

  • The health benefits of regular movement practice, particularly practicing Tai Chi, includes improved balance and strength.  More at the NY Times article, "Using Tai Chi to Build Strength".

Outdoors/Time in Nature

  • You can read more about the health benefits of spending time outdoors in the book, Nature Fix. You can follow the link to the Amazon store for this book in paperback or audiobook at our gift ideas page under "outdoor fun and health benefits of nature".  I have been listening to the Nature Fix as a audiobook throughout January.  It is packed with scientific study references!


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