FREE Stress Relief Acupuncture
When: Thursdays in Feburary, 5-7pm
Where:MIdwest Herbs & Healing
2919 Pentagon Dr NE, St. Anthony, MN 55418
20-minute sessions include herbal tea, acupuncture, aromatherapy, and hand massage. Seating is Limited. Please call ahead to reserve your spot, 612-781-3006.
50% Off Acupuncture for Job-Seekers!
Discount applies to those currently seeking employment, and can be used for all acupuncture services booked at Midwest Herbs & Healing by February 29, 2012. Call 612-781-3006 to make your appointment today!
Lift Your Spirits Naturally – Get that Qi Flowing!
By Serenity Walker, LAc. Dipl. OM
The holidays are over and now we have 3-4 months of winter to look forward to. During this time, most of us will be hit by Seasonal Affective Disorder in one way or another. We all know that with the shorter days and colder weather, we can get cooped up and start to feel stuck. Literally our bodies start to stagnate and when this happens, our life energy (or what we refer to as Qi) often gets stagnated as well. Symptoms of Qi stagnation are depression, anxiety, frustration, and anger.
One of the most beautiful things about Chinese medicine is that is great for moving Qi. Even if we are literally stuck inside, it is important to keep your energy moving to boost up your spirits. Here are some simple steps you can take to help avoid those winter blues:
1) Breathing and Meditation– Breath is probably the easiest and most effective way to get your energy moving. Simply taking the time to sit in a quiet room while you take 5 to 10 slow, deep breaths can do wonders for your mood. It can clear your mind, break up negative thought patterns, and give your cells the extra oxygen they need to rebuild and rejuvenate. If you want to add meditation to your breathing practice, even better. There are many styles of meditation you can experiment with, but if you are a beginner, keep it simple. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and picture your lungs expanding to their full capacity. Once you are in a nice rhythm, set an intention or thought with your breath. I often use the idea of compassion or peace. Hold that thought. And when you are ready, envision and literally push out the breath and release any negativity that isn’t serving you. Repeat as often as needed.
2)Acupuncture– It is great for moving energy, boosting your immunity and revitalizing your system. It specifically helps with mood disorders by increasing the level of endorphins in the brain, like serotonin, which are pleasure-inducing chemicals. Acupuncture also naturally lowers cortisol levels, the primary chemical that causes your body to tense up during times of stress. Lastly, acupuncture slows down your brain wave activity, to make you more calm and rhythmic, as if you were floating in the ocean. It’s a natural anti-depressant without any side effects.
3)Exercise– When the body moves, the Qi will follow. Regular exercise is an excellent way to lift your spirits. It is also an endorphin booster, so you get the feeling of pleasure during and after an activity. But you don’t have to run a marathon to feel the benefits. A walk around the block, a yoga class, or simple stretching can be enough if you are stuck indoors or in a pinch for time. A little bit every day goes a long way, and keeps you healthier in the long run. If you can, get involved in a group activity. The social environment can make you feel more connected to the outside world and gives you a reason to get out and about.
4)Nutrition– Yes, even certain foods can help move Qi. Below is a list of energy and mood-boosting foods:
• Dill Seeds
• Orange Peels ( you can make a tea from zest )
• Plum radish
• Tangerine Peels
• Black pepper
• Leafy greens, sprouts, beets
And don’t forget the water! Your body needs plenty of it during the winter too, to flush out toxins and stay hydrated, especially when you are less-physically active.
5)Supplements and Herbs- There are lots of good recommendations for mood support. Please check with your practitioner to come up a regimen that is specific for your needs
. Some of my favorites include:
Omega 3 Fish Oils– Keeps the brain cells happy and healthy and has other health benefits
5-HTP, Vitamin C, Vitamin B Complex, St. John’s Wort– All help boost serotonin levels and other neurotransmitters
Holy Basil, Ginseng, Lemon Balm, Ashwaghanda– All good for boosting energy and revitalization
6)Lifestyle– I will focus on a few suggestions in this area that I feel have the most impact on good emotional health.
A)Outdoor Activity– Sunshine is a natural source of Vitamin D that boosts immunity and improves serotonin levels. Plus the fresh oxygen rejuvenates the body and gives your cells fresh food to work with.
B)Sleep– Establish a regular routine for sleep so your body knows when it is time to wind down and rest. Stick to it, even on weekends. The body needs an average of 8 hours of sleep each day to rest, recover and recharge for a new day. Quality and quantity of sleep has a major impact on moods. Seek advice from a practitioner if you need help in this area.
B)Relationships– Make time to connect with friends and loved ones. A change of perspective can be just the thing to get you out of a funk.
C)Healthy Emotional Processing– Many people find that the winter slowness is a good time to clean out unwanted emotional baggage. If that is your goal, be sure to reach out and connect to your support system, whether it is loved ones, a spiritual community, or a professional counselor. You don’t have to do it alone. And remember to balance the bad with the good. Find a reason to laugh and be joyful every day (watch a funny movie, call a friend, do a good deed.)
And there you have it, self-care solutions for beating the winter blues. I wish you all a wonderful winter, full of health, happiness, and vitality. Be sure to visit us here at Midwest Herbs and Healing if you need any further assistance. Spring will be here before you know it!
About Serenity Walker, Lac., Dipl. OM.
Serenity holds a master’s degree in acupuncture and Oriental medicine (MSOM) from Southwest Acupuncture College in Santa Fe, NM, one of the oldest institutions in the country. She is nationally certified by NCCAOM as a Diplomate of Oriental Medicine, and she is a licensed acupuncturist in Minnesota with the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice.
She has more than five years of practical experience in acupuncture, Chinese herbs, Western herbs, nutrition, Asian body therapy, homeopathy, aromatherapy, yoga and meditation. She has experience working in a variety of health care settings including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, chiropractic offices, pediatric clinics, mental health settings, and HIV clinics. She has completed over 500 hours of additional training in Japanese acupuncture, and she recently completed the Integrative Health Practitioner training program at Abbott Northwestern’s Penny George Institute for Health and Healing.
Serenity’s passion is educating the public about the benefits of integrative medicine and the role of the mind-body-spirit connection in the health care setting. She offers workshops, public talks, and personal consultations with health care providers and the community at large.