Moving gently through the Holidays!
Many people use acupuncture for stress reduction
and even those who don’t admit to or notice stress in their lives report a greater sense of lightness and evenness to their moods after having acupuncture. During the holiday season, many of us could benefit from the stress-reduction benefits of acupuncture. Acupuncture treatments at this time of year are really supportive for body, mind and spirit—regular acupuncture treatments are a fantastic way to stay healthy and emotionally balanced during high-stress times.
10 tips for handling stress during the holidays:
Drink lots of water water
In acupuncture, each season has an associated natural element. Winter’s is water. As the holidays cue our wintery instincts, we can use water literally and metaphorically as a natural holiday de-stressor. Start every day with a large glass of lukewarm water. Fill your favorite glass with water, and possibly add some good apple cider vinegar. Drink it slowly, followed by taking some deep breaths into your abdomen. This morning ritual helps keep your body hydrated and relaxed at a time when more-than-usual amounts of alcohol and caffeine (both dehydrators) meet higher-than-usual stress levels. Metaphorically, water serves as a model for coping with holiday stress. When stress starts to mount, close your eyes and imagine yourself as strong, yet fluid and flexible. You are easily able to adjust around whatever gets in your way.
Go with the flow
We hear this all the time. But from an acupuncture perspective this trite piece of de-stressing advice takes on a whole new meaning. There is a famous Chinese medical saying: Bu tong ze tong, tong ze bu tong. This is roughly translated as, “If there is not free flow, there is pain. If there is free flow, there is no pain.” In other words, physical and emotional health is achieved when there is free flow throughout the channels of the body. Disease arises when the flow stops. We can take this thinking and apply it to holiday stress. Things never go according to plan. Whether it’s to do with travel, food or gift giving, Try to focus less on the details and more on your ability to flow through them. Keep flowing forward and you’ll have a less stressful holiday season.
Forget the ‘Should’ and go for “I Choose” instead
Nothing is set in stone. There are no golden rules or absolute truths. When we fail to think of ourselves as the constant works-in-progress that we are, there’s a tendency to start imposing a lot of “should” on ourselves. When we stop to act from the place of “I should” and instead consciously come from the place of choosing, we feel empowered, and whatever we do we can do it full heartedly from a place of joy and love. And we do not have to feel pressure and guilt, but rather live authentically from our deepest truth. Get out in nature We as humans are the microcosms in the macrocosms. The natural elements are essential parts of all of us, and yet many of us fail to make time to commune with them, especially when the weather turns cold. Lets just take some time each day to notice the natural world around us.
Get out in Nature
Especially at this time of the year, it is not only a nice break but also a reminder of the magnificent gifts that surround us every day. How can we find Balance Acupuncture is all about balance. The goal of treatment is to tonify (give to) areas of deficiency and reduce (take from) areas of excess If you find yourself with extra time in the coming weeks, offer help to those who need it. If you’re really strapped for time, ask for help. With gifts, ask yourself what you can offer that will help others without hurting you. Gifts come in all forms and should feel good on the receiving and giving end.
Be like a mountain
In addition to balancing deficiencies and excesses, acupuncture focuses on balancing Yin and Yang. Yin-Yang theory assigns certain qualities to various aspects of our lives, depending on the context within which they reside. Yin qualities are cold, dark, quiet, contracting, deficient, weak, delicate, soft-spoken, contemplative and introverted. Yang is hot, bright, loud, firm, expanding, excessive, robust, energetic and chatty. In comparison to everyday life, the holidays are very Yang! They are high energy, fast moving, and filled with constant hustle and bustle. While fun, this can become stressful. It is important to infuse this time of year with Yin qualities so that we remain balanced. Meditation where you imagine yourself as a mountain, or a rock are powerful. A mountain is the ultimate Yin, solid, rooted and still, despite the winds swirling around it. When the whirlwind of the holidays seems to engulf you, take a moment to think of yourself as a mountain. This will help you find inner calm despite the frenzy happening around you.
Find middle ground By encouraging balance—of Yin and Yang, and excess and deficiency
Acupuncture teaches us to find middle ground and appreciate moderation. It becomes a metaphor for not over or under doing it in life. Holidays generally involve a lot of over doing it—too much food, too many drinks, too much spending, too many late nights, too much stress. It happens, but it shouldn’t be used as an excuse for going to extremes in the other direction. Don’t skip breakfast and try to burn 1,000 calories in a workout because you ate too much at the holiday party the night before. Extreme taxation on your body in either direction will throw things into further imbalance. If you have a wild night, take a day to let your body recover and naturally regain its strength. (It might be a good time to receive an acupuncture treatment)
Rub your ears
The ear in acupuncture is a microcosm of the whole body, so ear points are used to address conditions that involve multiple systems. Since stress can wreak havoc throughout the entire body, treating the ears is an effective and efficient counter measure. Rubbing your ears is a great stress-reduction tool. Use your thumb and index finger to apply acupressure to the whole ear, moving from the top of the ear down to the earlobes. You can do this simultaneously on both sides. Brush your teeth with purpose Acupuncture teaches us to tune into the ordinary. It heightens our awareness by requiring us to pay attention to subtle shifts. This is something we can practice on our own, by being more mindful in our daily routines. When we are more present in each moment, we aren’t bogged down by the various holiday stressors that surround us. To practice this pick any one seemingly simple task—like brushing your teeth, doing the dishes, taking out the garbage. Do this task with utmost presence. If it’s brushing your teeth, notice the way the brush feels in your hand, how the toothpaste lathers inside your mouth, and the sounds of the brush against your teeth. Presence and mindfulness are not about over thinking, but rather, letting go so that your heart and mind are free to truly experience the joys of the holiday season.
Go into nature, hug tress, imagine sending a grounding cord deep into the center of the earth, and wrap it three times around the center of the earth. Draw into your body through this grounding cord beautiful earth colors, and release any stress down and out through the grounding cord. There is a tendency during stressful times to feel powerless, but you do have power over how you react to life and to holiday stress.
Lets use our tools and enjoy.