Here’s a seemingly selfish statement for you: self-care should be one of your main priorities for maintaining health and wellness. As a registered acupuncturist, I can tell you this: how you take care of yourself outside of treatment can be much more important than the treatment itself. But for many people, the idea of prioritizing seemingly simple, unproductive “me time” activities is a waste of time. There is a persistent attitude that self-care is frivolous. This kind of thinking keeps us from the benefits of self-care. Keep in mind that maintaining good health is much easier than getting it back. Your health is truly in your in hands and how you take care of yourself in between treatments is the fastest way back to optimal health.
Self-care is not a luxury. It is the very thing that will refuel your body, mind and spirit so that you can be more engaged and more fully present in all areas of life. I love this definition of self-care: “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness” This definition requires your participation. Self-care is an act of protecting your own health (both mental and physical) from life’s various stressors. Maintaining your health is a daily requirement. Each day, some thoughtfulness should be given to how you can take care of yourself. It can be as simple of savouring your tea or a few minutes in meditation. The very act of considering your health is beneficial. Listen to your intuition. Ask yourself what you need and be prepared to hear a response. For many people, the idea of self-care has them thinking about massages or being pampered at a spa. These two activities are effective and beneficial but there are so many more ways to take care of yourself. Here are a few of suggestions for you to consider adding to your self-care practice. Truly, the list could be infinite. Whatever you find relaxing, enjoyable and rejuvenating can and could be on the list.
1. Meditative walk. This is my go-to relaxation technique. It’s really a walk to nowhere (rather than running an errand). The reason for the walk is to steep yourself into full awareness. During your walk, keep to silent observation - refraining from labeling or judging anything you see. Simply observe as though witnessing them for the first time. Meditation is a foundational branch of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and energy arts like Tai Chi and Qigong help regulate our energies. Meditation can lower heart rate and a deepening of the breath. This practice will lead to less worry, impulsivity and anxiety while promoting optimism, relaxation and awareness.
2. Warm footbath. I know this sounds a bit old school but there is something particularly relaxing about a hot foot soak. Our feet are complex mechanical structures that literally take us everywhere we need to go. There are 26 bones and 33 joints and over 7,000 nerve endings. It's no wonder that warm foot baths helps to invigorate and relax the entire body. From a TCM perspective, sore or tired feet can impact any of the 6 meridians and over 50 acupuncture points located on them. Foot soaks can help ease tension and pain while turning on our parasympathetic nervous system (the system that shuts off our stress response).
3. Take yourself on a date. The idea here is to connect with something that you enjoy simply for the sake of it. Consider what you liked as a kid. Maybe you collected comic books but it’s been ages since you’ve been to a comic bookstore. Carve out some time to play, rest or simply cultivate creativity and inspiration. Take yourself to an indie movie. Try a dance class. Peruse a luxury paper shop. Take yourself out. You don’t need to spend a lot of money. But do something that sparks joy or curiosity.
4. Cook for someone. Our culture has lost touch with food. Cooking at home is a dying art. Convenient food is the priority in our culture, and we are losing touch with the healing benefits of home cooked food. We don’t know where food comes from, how to cook it and how to properly enjoy a meal. Consider this: every cell and chemical process in your body relies on the food that you eat. Fuel your body well. Cooking at home let’s you wisely choose your ingredients. Food is medicine. Organic fruits and veggies, pastured meats, healthy fats and whole grains are nutrient dense and offer a higher energetic value than processed foods. Cooking for a friend or family member is key. Meals taste better when shared with others. They build community by inviting people into your space. Try cooking with a different vegetable or meat than you normally would eat. Incorporate fresh herbs and spices. Think about the table setting, music and mood. Plate the food for your guests and enjoy sharing time with loved ones.
5. Try a new therapy. It might be an unconventional therapy or something that you’ve always wanted to try. Health and healing is dynamic. Our bodies, energy systems and mind require a variety of modalities to feel balanced and at peace. Curiosity and an open mind can lead to big health benefits. Of course, you should always seek out a reputable therapist or company offering any service. Some to consider: cupping therapy, Reiki energy work, facial massage for relaxation or float away in a saltwater tank. Leave your expectations behind and be open to a new experience. It might just be the thing you never knew you needed.
At College Park Acupuncture, we take pride in offering relaxing treatments that can help reset your nervous system, boost immunity and improve your mood. Our is modern, airy and comfortable.