Thursday, December 20, 2012

Preserving Your Energy This Winter

Today is our first snow fall - and tomorrow is winter solstice! 
As the weather gets colder, it is a wise choice to take some time for yourself to restore your energy. Don't resist the urge to nestle into your snug home. It turns out that the law of nature requires you to slow down in the winter. Here are five secrets that will preserve your energy, bringing you health - and tranquility.

Winter: the sleep of nature
Winter season is when nature sleeps, and everything experiences the slowing of natural processes -- even our bodies. Humans stopped hibernating like their ancestral cousins long ago, but our bodies still experience the natural inclination to slow down in winter. The winter is a time to come back to quietness and rebuild your energy reserves.  According to Chinese medicine, the winter season is linked to kidneys, the adrenal glands, and the bladder. When these bodily systems are out of balance, energy becomes depleted and this can pave the way to illness. During the cold months of winter, people are more prone to colds, flu, poor circulation, low Vitality, and seasonal mood disorders.

To stay healthy, happy, and vital, follow the wise winter advice of the Yellow Emperor:
1. Early to bed, rise when the sun is up
Go to sleep early and wait to let the sun bathe the house before rising from bed. Get your zzz's in -- at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Try taking a 20- to 30-minute easy walk one hour before you go to bed to improve the quality of your sleep.

2. Be content
The Yellow Emperor advises us to avoid experiencing excessive emotions in the winter because they drain your energy reserves.
  • Follow your bliss. Use the cold dark days of winter to stay in and cuddle up with a book, or pick up a new indoor hobby
  • Beat the winter blues with light therapy. Studies show that exposure to sunlight stimulates the pineal gland, which affects the production of other brain chemicals such as serotonin, the neurotransmitter sometimes called the "mood chemical." It can also boost your immune system, waking up the activities of the natural killer cells that patrol our borders looking for intruders and cancer cells. If weather permits, get outdoors daily and let the sun bathe you with its life-giving and spirit-lifting properties. Even in the winter, avoid overexposure with sunscreen if out in the sun between 10 am - 3 pm.
3. Nurture energy storage
The three months of winter are when all living things should return home and be conserved. Engage in activities that are in harmony with the energies of winter.
  • Avoid energy-depleting activities. Don't try to do too much in one day. Try making only one or two items a priority every day. And be sure you give yourself some personal time, not just from other people, but also from our modern amenities that claim ever more of our personal space, such as TV, computers, and smart phones. Try this: pick one day a week to perform your own "system restore." Turn off the TV. Don't watch the news. Limit your email time. These are the ways to maintain your energy and lessen stress.
4. Eat for the season: no raw, cold foods
To keep your health and energy up in the cold months of winter, the Yellow Emperor recommends avoiding cold and raw foods, reducing salt to protect your kidneys, and increasing bitter flavors (like kale, for instance.) So steer clear of raw vegetables, cold salads, and icy cold foods and beverages. Instead your diet should follow nature's menu for the seasons.

In winter, you'll tend toward a warming diet including leeks, onions, and turnips. Also, iron-rich foods can help warm you up: try spinach, broccoli, dried plums, oats, quinoa, sunflower and sesame seeds, walnuts, yams, squash, kale, garlic, scallions, and parsley. Hearty soups are good for you during the winter months. Drink only warm or hot water.

5. Avoid coldness and linger around warmth
  • Dress warmly, paying special attention to your middle. In Chinese medicine, the abdomen is considered the storehouse of the body's energy. Keeping your abdomen warm and protected from weather extremes has immense immunity benefits. A good way to replenish your energy bank is to regularly place a heat pack on your middle. 
  • Drink warming tea to keep your Vitality fired up. At Health on Point, we have several organic bulk tea options.
  • Chinese herbs can protect your energy reserves and boost your immunity. Astragalus and ginseng are considered to be adaptogens -- natural substances that improve the body's resistance to physical and environmental stress, thereby enhancing the immune system. 
Local, handmade lavender eye masks - perfect for winter
I hope this advice gives you the steps for a healthy, happy winter. I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.

Keep in mind, we will have limited office hours through the first of the year, so if you need to stop by for teas, herbs, or some newly created lavender eye masks - do call first!

May you live long, live strong, and live happy! 

- Rachel and Sarah

Monday, December 10, 2012

How to Lower Stress and Survive the Holidays With Acupuncture

A large glass of water w/ Herbal Resistance Formula
aides in de-stressing AND boosts your immune system!
Acupuncture is well known for its potential ability to lower stress. Many people use acupuncture for stress reduction. And in my experience, even those who don't admit to or notice stress in their lives commonly report a greater sense of lightness and evenness to their moods after having acupuncture.

During the holiday season, many of us would benefit from the stress-reduction benefits of acupuncture. Too often though, we find it impossible to take the time for ourselves.

If you can swing going for acupuncture this time of year, all the better -- regular acupuncture treatments are, in my opinion, the best way to stay healthy and mentally balanced during high-stress times. But if you, like many people, are on a tighter schedule and budget for the coming month, we've got the next-best thing.

I asked acupuncturists and colleagues to share one piece of acupuncture-inspired advice for reducing holiday stress. I've simplified their suggestions for self-care tips that can be applied anytime, anywhere, and for next to nothing. This week and next week, we will share these ideas - and will offer related discounts both in clinic and as posted exclusively for fans on Facebook.

Appreciate 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.

I recommend starting every day with a large glass of lukewarm water. Fill your favorite glass with water and drink it slowly (even better if you add a few drops of Herbal Resistance Liquid), 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. To truly live this experience, fill your tub with hot water and some bath salts. A variety of salts, including epsom - as well as essential oils - is an incredible treat.

For more information about Herbal Resistance or our special formulated bath soak 'Relax', contact us directly or find discounts for Facebook fans here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Nutrition for good night's sleep

Do you have a hard time catching the zzzzz’s you need? Six to eight hours of quality sleep every night is necessary for your immune system, digestion, energy, and mental health.  It’s vital to recharge your body so you can conquer the day ahead!  Here are some nutritional tips to help you settle down for the night:

Keep your caffeine to a minimum, and only in the morning.  
Every body breaks down caffeine differently, but its effects always last longer than the initial buzz you feel.  It can take anywhere from 5-11 hours for your body to metabolize caffeine completely.  Limit your caffeine to less than 150mg per day (about one 8 oz coffee), and stick to drinking it in the morning.  For the caffeine content of different beverages, check out this page from the Mayo Clinic.

No meals or snacks within 2 hours of bedtime.  
While your body does require some restful time for digesting, the whole process does require quite a bit of energy.  It can be hard to get to sleep when your digestive organs are still hard at work!  Additionally, meals close to bedtime can result in weight gain and heartburn.

Make sure you’ve got magnesium in your diet. 
Magnesium is necessary for relaxation in a number of different ways.  Good sources of magnesium include seeds (like sunflower or flax) and dark leafy greens. If you find your digestion is irregular in addition to being wound up at bedtime, a magnesium supplement may be an excellent option to get things moving. At Health On Point we carry a product that patients and practitioners alike swear by. Stop in for a free sample!

Calm down with some herbal tea.  
Our Super Sleep herbal tea is compounded to help your body prepare for sleep.  Take a few minutes away from the computer, television, or other distractions to clear your mind and help you settle down.

This week's article courtesy of Daily Dose Wellness.
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