Greetings! First, let me wish each of you moms out there a joyous and beautiful Mother’s Day. May you be showered with the love you have given to your children and granted health, joy and peace as you continue on life’s journey, wherever it may lead.
I’d like to spend a little time chatting with you today about the concept of “total wellness” and how it relates to acupuncture. Most people who consult with me about acupuncture treatment are experiencing a challenging health concern and often something that has been a chronic problem for months or often, years. For example, someone with migraines may have suffered with them for 10 or more years, trying multiple medications and other therapies before considering acupuncture. Chronic pain often results in sleep disruption, fatigue, and changes in appetite and mood. The good news is that acupuncture can be extremely beneficial in helping to not only decrease the frequency and severity of migraine, but also in improving sleep patterns, energy levels, appetite and mood. Establishing an acupuncture treatment plan, that is, a series of regular acupuncture treatments over time, helps to re-regulate the body by decreasing cortisol levels, increasing endorphin and enkephalin release, enhancing immune function and modulating neuroendocrine function.
However, acupuncture is only one piece to the wellness pie. Our lifestyle and behaviors related to nutrition, physical activity, sleep hygiene and planned stress management play a critical role in achieving total wellness. Relying on acupuncture alone to “cure” oneself and then ignoring the importance of the food you eat daily would be rather unwise, wouldn’t you agree? Acupuncture works best in synergy with healthy lifestyle behaviors. Often, your acupuncturist will provide you with some simple individualized strategies to help you get started on this path. Eastern and Western nutrition has much to offer when it comes to achieving total wellness. Some form of daily physical activity is crucial to wellness, and again, this needs to be individualized. Sometimes it is as simple as a few yoga postures performed each morning and evening combined with breathing exercises. This can be useful for individuals with anxiety as well as those with chronic pain due to degenerative joint disease. Tai Chi, an ancient meditative movement practice, is another option that has been proven to assist with balance in those with neurologic conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease, reduce stress and improve mobility over time. Planned stress management is key to achieving total wellness, yet it is often ignored with so many people often telling me, “I don’t have a stress management plan.” Take 5-10 minutes out of every day to practice something that brings calm, peace and focus into your life. This is different for everyone. For some, it is meditation. For others, it is prayer. And for others, it is listening to a CD, reading a poem, reading a few pages of a book, a short period of exercise or talking to a friend. It doesn’t really matter what the activity is as long as you find it peaceful and calming to your mind, body and spirit. And, it is something you are doing every day. The body and mind can be trained to remain calm and peaceful if that is what is practiced and experienced regularly. This peace and serenity helps create health which, over time, leads to total wellness.
The next time you are at your acupuncture treatment and finish feeling peaceful and refreshed, remember to consider what you will do in the coming days before your next treatment to continue towards your goal of total wellness. If you aren’t sure how to proceed, just ask!
Until we chat again, wishing you health, wellness, peace and joy!