Here’s a video I did for New Year New You at Montpelier Family Chiropractic. I plan on doing more videos this year on topics ranging from foods to eat when you have a bad cold to how the seasons affect your emotional health. You can follow my channel on YouTube, or my Facebook page to always get my videos as soon as they’re up. Feel free to suggest topics!
After five years at what is now Ariya Chiropractic, I have decided to move on to new things. Effective immediately, I will be moving to Montpelier Family Chiropractic in beautiful downtown Montpelier. I will be there on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
|Dr. Tree, Mark Atkinson, and Angelica Valencia|
I am joining an amazing group of colleagues. Theresa Neiss (“Dr. Tree”) is the chiropractor at Montpelier Famiily Chiropractic. She has been my family’s chiropractor for the past five years. She has helped me, my husband, our friends and my patients stay healthy and happy, often with problems that were not improved at other chiropractic offices. She has a background in nutrition, and is well trained not only in spinal manipulation, but in adjusting every joint in the body. I didn’t know until recently that some chiropractors have little training in adjusting anything beyond the spine. Dr. Tree’s expertise with the entire body has been a great help when I come to her with a hurt ankle or wrist.
Mark Atkinson is the massage therapist here. The massage I got from him was one of the best I’ve ever had. He has special training in pregnancy massage and mobility stretches. His enthusiasm for life will infect you, too, when you see him.
Colleen and Tara round out the office support staff. Everyone at Montpelier Family Chiropractic is friendly, knowledgeable, and interested in you and your health. You will love coming here as much as I do.
|Snazzy Waiting Area|
|A Peek Into Mark’s Treatment Room|
|The First Door is My New Treatment Room|
Please feel free to stop by and say hi. We’re at 17212 Mountain Road in Montpelier across the street from the Montpelier Center for Arts and Education, at the corner of Mountain Road (Hwy. 33, which is Staples Mill Road in Richmond) and Beaverdam Road..
|An unintended side effect of illness: I’ve lost some weight!|
This summer has been interesting chez Green. I’ve had two illnesses that landed me in the hospital, and needed a procedure that put me out of commission for about a week. It has been a month since I was declared more or less back to normal, and I’m still low on energy and don’t feel anywhere near recovered.
I’ve been shell-shocked by the whole ordeal. As a natural health practitioner who eats clean and uses herbs, acupuncture, chiropractic and other holistic healthcare nearly exclusively, the world of beeping machines and various pills, antiseptics, and scary diagnostic things that zap my insides is overwhelming. And I didn’t even need surgery.
I treat people every day who make multiple trips to a hospital or outpatient facility for procedures each year. Most of my patients take some kind of prescription medication every day, and many more see their doctor for health concerns frequently. After my brief sojourn in the land of modern medicine, I feel for them.
The doctors and nurses who have treated me have been almost universally professional, kind, and compassionate. They have also been overworked, and in a system that treats bodies like machines.
It is surprising how quickly you begin to feel like a piece of meat when people take your clothes and blood, and make your bodily fluids their business. Even knowing it is exactly what I needed to get well did not make me feel positive about the experience. Feeling my body reel from each medication and procedure disoriented me and made me distrust my natural knowledge.
I am used to using food and herbs to gently allow my body to heal. In most cases, this approach is ideal, allowing your body to makes the minute adjustments that encourage balance. In an emergency, you take care of the potentially life-threatening problem and then help your body recover from any side effects. I have had to develop some strategies to help me recover from the more extreme but necessary healthcare I’ve had over the past several months. Here are a few things that have helped me:
- Remember every person recovers differently. I have taken far longer than I like to get my energy and verve back. My husband and friends keep reminding me that while I was very blessed in not having as severe a health issue as I could have had, I was still seriously ill. They also remind me that I have always been slightly frail, for lack of a better word, and usually take longer than average to recover from anything, even a night of poor sleep. Once I stopped fighting the time I needed to get better, I noticed I improved more quickly.
- Take better care of yourself than usual. I already eat well and try to give myself plenty of rest and moderate exercise. But this illness has made it necessary for me to be extra careful in my food. A little too much sugar, too much starch, or a food I know I do not digest well, and I will feel bad for at least the next twenty-four hours. A night’s lost sleep means a nap the next day, no arguments. If I don’t take care of myself, my muscles hurt, I can’t focus, and I’m likely to have an emotional meltdown. So I try to eat mostly simply cooked food with an emphasis on vegetables. When I stick to this diet, I feel better than when I eat too much sugar or spice. I also give myself plenty of rest, and try–the hardest thing for me–to keep calm thoughts and stay optimistic. I am a recovering worrier.
- Make a plan for the future. I have been diagnosed with a chronic illness that requires some maintenance. Since I’ve been used to mild symptoms and did not realize they signalled something more serious, I’ve had to educate myself. I knew the “book-knowledge” information from my schooling in healthcare, but learning what symptoms feel like in my body has taken concentrated study. I now have a plan for a)diet changes and herbal supplements as preventative changes when symptoms start, b) at what point I will go to a doctor, and c) when the best course of action is rest.
- Accept managing illness is a process. I am still learning the exact parameters to best manage my health. I have made mistake in overdoing things, and I suspect I could have pushed myself sometimes and did not. After being lectured by my friends and family to take the advice I give to others, I took the pressure off myself to be perfect. Now I don’t worry too much about misteps. My goal is to be healthy for years to come, not to be perfect today. I think my strategy is working.
I hope these tips will help you, whether you are dealing with a cold or a serious illness. If you are not healthy, you cannot enjoy life to its fullest. Take the time to take care of yourself so you can enjoy your time on this lovely planet.
When I was at school studying Chinese medicine, one of my professors said that in China, people are encouraged to go to the countryside each springtime. “They see all the green in the fields, and it soothes their Liver Qi, which relieves stress.”
Anyone who has driven in the country in spring knows how soothing a clear green field can be. But for most people, it is a common sense “fun thing to do,” not a health treatment.
Science may soon change that perception.
Research now shows that looking at the color green boosts creativity, and that productivity improves when office workers can see outside. Our systems are made to connect with the beauty of nature, and our health improves when we make time to do so.
In the interests of building health today, here are some pictures I recently took while at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, one of my happy places. Enjoy!
Articles used for this post: Why We Love Beautiful Things
|My parents and I|
This month two dear friends died. One suddenly of a heart attack, the other after a long battle with several different cancers. The world seems a little darker this morning.
I guess I am like most people. I live my life consumed by minutiae. Small dramas between friends or co-workers, passing moods, traffic, a slow computer–too often I allow small things to determine my life, my actions, and my thoughts. When faced with mortality, these small, petty issues fall aside.
The loss of my friends, while painful, is nothing compared to to the empty feelings their families are facing today. I have lost my mother and father, and sat beside my husband in ICU when he was terribly ill and I knew any second his labored breathing could stop. Time stops in that level of loss. You feel separated from time and space, and the people around you can try to comfort or help, but you are too numb to respond.
Thankfully, my husband recovered, and is now healthier than he has been in years. But I try to never quite forget how clearly I saw life sitting by that hospital bed. When the daily grind drops away in the face of life-and-death issues, you make promises to yourself. You promise you will never take important people for granted. You promise you will never let the trivial keep you from the crucial. You promise that you will say things that need to be said, even if it leaves you vulnerable or temporarily hurts someone in hopes of helping them live a fuller life.
I have kept these promises imperfectly. Today I realize I have not stayed as connected with my friends, especially the two who are newly gone. I could have been more encouraging, more available, more attentive. No one stays in the moment of what’s truly important perfectly. But each time real life overtakes the silly play of irrelevant details, let’s renew our commitment to those promises. Hug the people you love today. Forgive them. Remove anything that stands between you and being able to stay connected to the important people and values in your life. No one is guaranteed the next minute. Please make this minute–this one, right now–count.
|Photo Credit: lindagr|
|Photo credit: nzks|
I read a lot about positivity, and training your mind to see the brighter aspect of any situation. But when I get down, I do not have a lot of experience with realistic evaluation of experiences. I tend to see any experience as either good or bad, as my fault if it is negative, and in spite of me if it is positive. I absorbed a futilistic mind set from childhood, without my family’s or my realization it was happening. So when I do finally give up and embrace the depressing side of a problem, I go overboard. I throw out any good things as I focus on the bad–no one called me today, I lost income, I made a mistake, something bad is happening to someone I love and I can’t help it, there are good things I want to do, but x, y, or z stands in the way. It’s all hopeless, and I should just eat worms and die.
When I keep my pain locked away in myself, a stray negative thought can blossom into a full depression hurricane, where I denigrate my accomplishments, ignore happy things around me, and sacrifice my energy and health in bouts of crying, anger, and blaming those around me for perceived slights. Why don’t I reach out to someone else in these bad times? “I don’t like to complain.” “I don’t want to be negative.” “If other people knew I had this problem, I would be lessened in their eyes.”
Recently I tried to encourage a friend who was down. In a feat of tremendous hyprocrisy, I urged him to confide his problems in others, to “get the pain out.” And he used my line. “I don’t like to complain.” As often happens, being of the receiving end of my words opened my eyes to a new viewpoint.
Why is it helpful to share our burdens with each other? If I am sad, and I tell you I am sad and why, won’t I just make you sad, too? Sometimes, yes. I have heard conversations where two people get together and focus on all the bad in themselves and in the world. The conversation often becomes cruel, cyncial, and cutting. I get depressed hearing it second-hand, and the people involved do not seem uplifted at all while they are together. But I don’t usually have such conversations. When I share a problem with a friend, my friends react differently. I have been blessed with proactive friends who help me turn problems around.
How do these wonderful people help me? They are first caring, then try to help me see the problem realistically, and then we try to solve it together.
- Caring. Letting someone know your dark places or failures is scary stuff. In a society built on projecting a positive, successful, happy persona, admitting that you ate a box of cookies and spent the day hiding from people because conversation was too taxing is an exercise in vulnerability–and is not something you find recommended in a Tony Robbins seminar. But everyone has down times. Grief and sadness are natural stages in life. They can come on from events big or small, from events such as death or illness bringing loss into our lives, or when our current situation is not where we want to be, or we hit one too many red lights on the way to work on a rainy day. The brooding nature of sadness can, when expressed and used correctly, give us time to look at problems, see what we want or need to change, and move toward a happier future. But most of us need someone to accept us at our saddest in order to properly process our emotions and reach that proactive stage. Being a friend who can say “I am so sorry you are dealing with this problem! Tell me about it,” gives the troubled person room to feel their emotions and begin the job of working through to a better state.
- See the Problem Realistically. For me, this is the stage I need a trusted friend to accomplish. When I face a problem, it is all I can see. Only the bad sides of the equation. I don’t see opportunities, I don’t see my skills I bring to solving it, I don’t see any of my past successes or the support networks I have all around me. I see a problem–big and scary and proof, in my eyes, of my utter incompetence and lack of worth. My husband and my friends are lifesavers in these moments. I trust them to honestly assess a problem with me, and help me put it in perspective in the larger mosaic of my life. They are the ones to remind me of past successes, of the power of faith, of the good things that can come from the current challenge, and that even if I do fail to solve this problem, I am still loved and worthwhile. This help is the hardest to be without, and the step I close off the most severely when I refuse to share my burden with someone I can trust.
- Solving the Problem. This step, which seems so crucial when I am bewailing my predicament, is actually the least important. Most problems get solved. Mostly by doing things I already know how to do. For the rare times I need help–either in the form of practical help or simply expert advice, my support group of friends, family, and experts I trust will usually get me on track quickly. I am still surprised at how simple solutions can be, especially after I’ve spent weeks obsessing over a situation. Often one conversation, or mentioning one need that is overwhelming to me, will result in just the right advice, or someone having a spare whatsit that they want to be rid of that is exactly what I need. Problem solving, while crucial to life, is much less difficult than letting someone care and help you put your problem into perspective.
So why do we constantly hoard our problems when sharing them helps us and allows our friends to see into our lives in ways that strengthen our relationships? Why must pride and a desire to appear invincible rather than vulnerable make us suffer alone? Think about how good it feels to help someone else, and especially how good it feels to be trusted with someone’s tender, scary places. Why not give that gift to the friend you value the most? Chances are good he or she will help you solve your problem, you’ll feel better, and your friend will feel valued and useful. Share a problem today!
Yin deficiency refers to our reserves. Yin deals with the cooling, calming, moistening functions in the body–having the right lubrication (lymph, mucous, saliva, etc.), enough substructure (bone, blood, etc.), and enough rebuilding time and materials (sleep, and the substances above). It also refers to the “stuff” of reproductive function–hormones, menstrual blood, semen, mucous, etc. A yin deficiency may not affect all of these–Stomach yin deficiency means there usually is not adequate stomach mucosa, causing burning, acid reflux, or dry mouth; while liver yin deficiency will affect our ability to make blood properly, stay calm, and get enough sleep. Kidney yin deficiency affects reproductive function, overall calmness, ability to focus, and sleep as well.
- Get enough rest. Rest early and often, with naps if possible. Take regular breaks in your workday, if not to sleep, then at least to disengage from the rat race. Take a walk, look at the outside world or an art museum–but let your mind rest. Meditation is one of the best ways to rebuild yin, and can be as simple as letting your mind wander while you watch people walk their dogs in a park.
- Eat well. Eat nutrient-dense food. Eggs from healthy chickens (meaning free-range chickens who have not been fed antibiotics) are a great source of yin, as are any juicy fruits and vegetables. Most fish is considered beneficial for yin as well. Eating warming foods that are considered more yang tonic (such as cayenne, cinnamon, lamb, horseradish and other mildly spicy foods) is not wrong–Chinese medicine is about balance, and getting a wide variety of foods is important. But if you have a yin deficiency, giving extra attention to yin tonic foods is a great idea.
- Destress. In our modern times, nothing is as hard on Yin as stress. Stress triggers our fight-or-flight system, which basically means we become on guard most of the time. Feeling rested and refreshed when you are constantly worried or feel cornered in a bad job, relationship, or just with your own thoughts is impossible. See a therapist, make life changes a necessary, or delegate your least favorite chores. The peace you gain will add years to your life.
- Do gentle exercise. Exercise primarily builds yang, through activity, but gentle exercise, such as tai chi or moderate walking, allows your body to process stress hormones, circulate your lymph, move toxins around, and manage blood sugar and digestion. These benefits greatly diminish stress in your system, and so benefit Yin.
- Diminish distractions. Yin is the energy of quiet and peace. If you have not sat outside and looked at the clouds for a while, I suggest trying it. Turning off your cell phone, stepping away from the computer, and turning down ambient noise any way you can will give your nervous system a break. Like meditation, simply existing in a quiet space without a lot of stimulation allows your body to turn inward and rest.
Using these tips will help you keep your Yin strong, giving you ample reserves for any situation. Try a few of them today!
|Image Courtesy of FreeImages.com|
Today is Part Five of our Five Taxation series. First, a quick review:
Part 1: Goldilocks and the Five Taxations: An Introduction
Chinese medicine advocates balance in everything. Even activities that seem harmless, or are considered positive by most people, should only be done in balance. Too much of any activity will cause an imbalance somewhere else.
Part 2: I Can See Clearly Now: To Observe Over a Long Time Harms the Blood
Our eyes are sensitive to overwork. Because of the connections they have with the Liver, Gallbladder, and Wood Element in Chinese medicine, overusing your eyes can hurt your health over time.
Part 3: Get Up and Boogie: Excessive Lying Down, Which Damages Flesh
Lying down too much means you cannot be getting enough exercise. Inadequate exercise leads to a host of problems, including blood sugar issues, poor circulation, obesity, and has been linked to dementia and poor stress management.
Part 4: Sitting Needs Moderation
“Oversitting” is at least as bad as “excessive lying down,” with the same issues plus more problems with posture.
And today’s entry, “excessive standing, which injures bones.”
These days, standing is in vogue. There are standing desks, standing meetings, and advice to never, ever, ever sit.
As with most things advised in our modern world, Chinese medicine would disagree with such an all-or-nothing approach. Standing for long periods is hard on the blood vessels in the legs, increasing the risk of carotid atherosclerosis ninefold, as well as contributing to varicose veins. For many people, it can aggravate back, foot, or knee pain, especially if the surface they need to stand on is too unyielding. It can also cause fatigue if there is no option to sit or rest.
Chinese medicine sees standing too long as harmful to the bones. The bones are governed by the Water element, which also includes the Kidney and Bladder systems. More than the organs that filter and excrete urine, in the Chinese medical system they also have a major role in maintaining you jing, or essence–which deals with your reproductive health as well as your “reserve energy”–the well you go to when you’re exhausted but need to keep going. Anything that taxes this system will make it harder for you to overcome stress, especially long-term, unrelenting stress that eats at your peace.
So what’s a person to do? Don’t look out too much. Don’t sit too long, don’t stand too long, don’t lie down too much, and don’t walk a lot (our next and final taxation)–unless you can levitate, there’s only one answer left someone seeking the wisdom of a millenia-old system of medicine. Do a little bit of all of them. Sit sometimes, stand a little, lie down to rest, and walk enough for exercise, but not to exhaustion. Our bodies are made for lots of different activities. In our computer age, we have made sitting and exercise-for-exercise’s sake our primary movements. How about we try other things? Walk with a friend, or walk or bike to get from Point A to Point B. Stretch to rock climb, or reach something from a high shelf, or to dance to music. Lay down on the grass and look at the clouds. Or let your eyes rest, and listen to the birds and the breeze and the sound of children laughing. Stand to greet others, or to give your seat to someone who is tired and needs the rest. If you want other ideas, this article might be helpful.
Chinese medicine is about balance. Instead of latching on to one activity, how about filling your life with the variety of all activities that bring you health?
Articles used in writing this post:
Autumn is my favorite season. I love the color in the leaves, the chill in the air, and the natural instinct to burrow in and nest. But I always find myself going broody and a little melancholy just as the summer heat gets that tiny tinge of coolness. For years, I chalked it up to the memories of school starting, year after year, in my childhood–the end of the freedom of summer, and for me the anxiety and discomfort of being an introvert thrown into a more social climate.
While those memories may be a part of my “autumn blues,” I now know there is a much more powerful reason I have these feelings, and why so many share them. In Chinese medicine, each season is associated with an element, which also relates to different parts of physical and emotional health. Autumn deals with the Metal Element, which is represented in the body by the Lung and Large Intestine systems. These systems deal with your immune system and breathing. But they also have an emotional component. They deal with the process of grief, of knowing what to keep and let go, and have a place in affecting how we organize our lives and set our boundaries.
Just as the leaves shed their leaves and begin to hunker down for the winter, drawing their nutrients inward, so we humans feel an urge to turn inward as the weather cools. Autumn is commonly a time for introspection and review. We look over our year, our relationships, and our homes, deciding what works well, and what does not, and letting go of those things that no longer serve us. We pack away our summer clothes, pull out the comforting shield of our sweaters and blankets, and review our yearly plans. And many of us, for reasons we cannot quite understand, feel the need to pull out old hurts, old problems, or old memories, figuratively running our fingers over our life scars.
This behavior is perfectly natural, and can be beneficial. When we suffer a loss–whether it’s a loved one, an injury, a financial setback, or just a vision of ourselves we fail to live up to–we need time to process the change in our circumstances. We grieve a death, or a breakup, or a new reality after illness, and move one. But as a year or two or ten goes by, sometimes we find there are still issues to process. We reach the age of a parent when they died, we find a new romance, or find our health deteriorates further–or, sometimes more frighteningly, improves, bringing new opportunities but also new responsibility. We have grown and changed, and now we need to revisit that old hurt. Is there something new to learn from our old experience? Is there some new way to let go of a limiting belief or behavior? If we do not revisit our story, we may never know.
Of course, everyone has a friend who is stuck in time. They pick a moment of their life, either for its joy or pain, and refuse to leave it. They dress too young, or continue to make teenage choices into adulthood, because growing up threatens the safety they feel in their perceived youth. Or they keep a room or wall or life revolving around a loved one who has left, or died, unable to accept a new opportunity because they cannot let go of the past. For these people, the natural need to grieve and release has gotten bogged down. Sometimes they obsess on the grieving process; other times they avoid it, distracting themselves with work or vacations or play. If they let their mind go blank they risk the pain of memories welling up, so they choose distraction after distraction to avoid discomfort. For either approach, getting help to grieve properly is important. A mature friend or counselor can help stuck grievers go through the process of sorting memories or circumstances and deciding how life has changed around them, and also how to make changes so they can move on to the next stage of life.
Autumn is still my favorite season, even tinged with grief as it can sometimes be. The other side of grief is nostalgia–a happy memory of earlier times that can be a firm foundation from which to launch an amazing life.