'Winter anxiety'? And what might that be you could be wondering. And can acupuncture help me mentally and emotionally as well?
It's pretty common knowledge that acupuncture helps with muscle pain and healing from injury but really that's just the tippy top of what acupuncture can help with. Acupuncture has been around a long time (over 5000 years!) and works to bring the whole body-mind system in balance. Mental health, stress, worry had been something the ancient Chinese Medical texts were already discussing way back then. In particular, its effect on the physical body.
I want to give you some insight of how Chinese Medicine looks at stress, worry and anxiety. There are actually several different types of anxiety from a Chinese Medicine point of view. Wild hey? A common one at this time of year is the one that affects the Heart (Jing Jing Shen). The type of anxiety that affects the heart predominantly is worsened by worry (overthinking) and stress (or fear) and is worse in the Winter. A lot of folks I know have well .... all three happening these days!
Gotta love it when a system of medicine acknowledges the influence of the seasons on us. Cold does have a contracting element about it doesn't it? Our heart needs warmth to be healthy. Warmth in every way. We are naturally drawn to cozy these days: warm fire, warm drinks, blankets, snuggling up with a book or animal or person, soups, gathering with good friends ... all these help counter the outside cold.
Here are 5 points you can massage on yourself to help the energy stay in flow and address "winter anxiety".
You can do these whenever and wherever: in the car or the bathroom or of course at home. For moms, first thing on waking (that is if you wake before the kids!) and before bed are often the easiest time to get some self-care in. Massaging these points before starting a meditation is a great habit and helps drop you out of monkey mind. Not meditating but wanting to get something regular happening? Maybe massaging these points with a lit candle and your favourite essential oil nearby is how you get a mindfulness practice going again for you. ...
These are the common points that I use in my clinical practice to help with "winter anxiety" --- to keep the energy in your body and your e-motions moving harmoniously:
1. KI-3 "Kidney #3' - this point is excellent in nourishing our kidney Qi., for strengthening the kidneys. Our adrenal glands love this point as it builds our internal feeling of, "I can meet whatever life brings me". When the kidney/adrenal energy is weak we worry more and little upsets don't just roll off our back as they do when we are feeling more resourced. This point builds our reserve energy and increases our patience. It's located on the inside of the ankle.
In Chinese Medicine and really in most wellness models, flow is essential for health. One of the ways to get yourself feeling mentally or emotionally off is to have lots of thoughts without action. Analysis-paralysis is something everyone has experienced at one time or another. There are so many decisions and we get overwhelmed and kinda freeze. From a neuroscience point of view the overwhelm triggered the amygdala which disconnects the amygdala from the regulatory function in the prefrontal cortex and we feel stuck. Get out of this habit with Spleen #1!
2. Yes, Spleen #1 is a new favourite of mine. It is near the tip of the big toe and it 'helps move stuck thoughts'. In Chinese Medicine it is recognized that illness can be caused by stuckness. In my experience what tires us out the most as moms and entrepreneurs is our mental chatter and indecision and lack of trust. In Chinese Medicine they say that a thought that has no action can create stuckness. Any "Aha"s out there? Here's why you can feel so good when you finally take action on something you've been thinking about for a while and why indecision and overthinking can be such energy zappers.
Hands up anyone having lots of decisions to make lately? I thought so ... Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Summer Camp sign-ups starting, shopping for teens! Do the thoughts/ideas start to go round and round sometimes and you spend more time then you'd like trying to figure out what to do? And sometimes feel overwhelmed/confused and don't do anything?
Well, of course you are not alone and so here's a little physical tool to help you move your thoughts through - keep that fluidity and flow in our being: massage Spleen #1. Now we know that meditative/mindful type practices and yoga are helpful in this and as I mentioned above, if you are meditating, massaging this (and the other points) as you are settling in can help you drop in and down (into the moment and out of the stories and narrative of the mind) with more ease. (Bring it! lol)
3. Heart #7 - this point nourishes the heart directly and is located in the little hollow on your wrist crease on the pinky side. If it's tender it needs attention as tenderness tells us there is stuckness.
4. Conception Vessel # 17 (CV-17) - also known as the "Sea of Tranquility" ... yes please I say! This point is located on the sternum (breastbone) between the nipples ... or where the nipples used to be before breastfeeding ha ha. if you massage along your sternum and find the most tender point you are there. For those of you who practice yoga or meditation, you naturally put pressure on this point when you bring your hands to your heart center.
Tapping on this point or massaging it when breathing increases depth of breathing, opens the heart and transforms negative thinking by again dropping the energy down out of overthinking. In Kundalini Yoga, practices are begun with hands in prayer position at CV-17 and "Ong namo guru dev namo" is chanted and the vibrations felt there. Figures it is the go-to tuning in meditation for this powerful practice of kundalini yoga for cultivating inner strength and peace of mind.
5. Kidney #1 - this point is in the hollow on the bottom of the foot between the pads of the foot. I rarely needle this point in practice as it is pretty intense but I massage it or activate it with tuning forks with every client as it is an extremely grounding, settling point. Again, this is an easy one to massage if you're sitting on your bed or meditation cushion. Add essential oils like Frankincense or Lavender or Stress Calm (by Young Living Oils) or whatever your favourite is. Bringing in these oils is an enjoyable way to come more into the moment where your true power and inner strength live.
Well, I hope this empowers you with simple tips to finding and keeping your peace at this time of year so these holidays can be a source of nourishment for you.
To have a naturopathic acupuncture session to support you in transforming any "winter anxiety" you have, call the office at (403) 609-8385. FYI - Most insurance companies cover Naturopathic Medicine by a licensed practitioner and the money allocated for 2017 will disappear December 31st. Wherever you live take advantage of this and head to your local ND to get the wellness support that helps you truly thrive in your life, starting with this month right now. (-:
May you be deeply happy and know peace friend, xo, Dr. Monika