Acupuncture and Nutrition

The Emotional Toll Of The Coronavirus

In the last few weeks, one thing has become apparent. The atmosphere has changed and people have been fearful and panicky. There has also been so much anxiety mixed with it. How often are you allowed to go out? Is that trip to the shop to pick up ice cream really essential? Should I wear a face mask?

And underneath all that, there has been a sense of loss. The loss of a way of life: going out of the house, going to work, children at school. The loss of being able to meet up with friends and family. Most of us have been grieving that ‘old’ way of doing things in their own ways: some people have become angry. Others have decided to ignore it and carry on as usual. Some people have become quite depressed and sad about it all.

This is affecting many areas of our life. People often report they struggle to sleep. Some are getting more short-tempered or frustrated. Quite a few of us have been resorting to comfort eating or a glass or two of alcohol t the end of the day.

 

The Emotions in Chinese Medicine

 

In Chinese Medicine terms, this has been all about Metal and Water. In my last post, you will remember that Chinese Medicine sees the body as a balance of 5 Elements. Each of those Elements is linked to some emotions.

 

 

 

Grief and sadness are all about Metal.

Fear and panic is about Water.

Anger and frustration is Wood

Laughter and anxiety is Fire

Worry is about the Earth.

 

 

Even though fear and grief are probably the two main emotions around at the moment, I think we are experiencing some of the others at the same time too. For some anxiety will be the real sticking point while for other frustration at being stuck in the house all day with young children will be the issue.

The best thing you can do is to be mindful of what is happening for you. What is the main emotion going on at the moment?  Once you’ve identified that emotion, try and support the specific Element related to it.

 

Fear and Water

 

Fear is the emotion related to Water. To be able to calm our fears down, we need to rebalance Water. This will make us feel more grounded. There are many ways to do so.

You can:

* Go out for a walk in nature

* Walk bare feet in the garden

* Do some journaling and write down all our fears on paper. Usually, 10 mins freely writing whatever is going through your mind, including all those fears is an excellent way to put those at rest. Doing that in the evening, just before going to bed, could also help you sleep better.

Look here for some more ideas.

 

Anger and Wood

 

Anger is the emotion associated with the Wood. But so is creativity and being organised. This means there are many ways to rebalance the Wood energy.

 

* Do some exercise, whatever it is. Get out of the house, move around (Did some people do some of the Joe Wicks exercise class with their children?). Yoga or any stretching exercise is good too. Go up and down the stairs. Any movement will help rebalance the Wood.

* Get creative! Do some colouring or some drawing, painting. You can put all digital photos in an album. Find a new recipe and prepare that for dinner. Anything that will help you be creative in your own way will strengthen the Wood. It doesn’t have to be beautiful or particularly arty. Just your own creation.

* Get organised. Maybe you want to go through your cupboard and organise it better. Perhaps it’s your desk or your computer files (I am looking at my Inbox thinking I need to finally put the emails I want to keep in a folder and in the other in the Bin…..). Or maybe creating a menu for the week will make feel more in control of what is going on.

* Have an Epson salt bath before going to bed. These will help your muscles relaxed and therefore, will make you feel more relaxed.

* Meditation is another nice way to relax. There are many apps available now, a lot of them free. You can try:

 

* Do some yoga. Yoga is a form of exercise, and just because of the movement involved, it will help with relaxation. However, with Hatta Yoga and other form of yoga, there is also a strong emphasis on the breath, making it closer to a type of meditation in movement. One straightforward position, in particular, is beneficial as it influences the vagus nerve too:

 

      • Lie of your back with your bottom very close to a wall. Gently move your legs on the wall and relax. You can stay in that position for a few minutes and then gently bend your knees and move your legs away from the wall.
      • Avoid if suffering from hypertension or glaucoma.

 

 

 

Anxiety and Fire

 

Fire is all about laughter and connexion with people. Think about a young child running around, laughing. That is the Fire energy. What can help you is:

 

* Laugh. Whatever is working for you. Your partner, your child antics, that television series or film that you know will make you laugh. Some videos on Youtube. Just try and make sure you take time to laugh. You can’t be laughing and anxious at the same time.

 

“We have been told to use ‘social distancing’ when really it should have been PHYSICAL distancing. We don’t want to be socially distant from people. If anything, we should be tightening up those relationships.”

 

* Connect with people! Look at how you can connect with family members or friends. Use Zoom or Skype to have a virtual cuppa with the whole family. Make time for some cuddles with a partner or a pet. Is there a friend you haven’t heard for a while? What about reconnecting with them?

* Gratitude is also strengthening Fire. You can make time at the end of the day to think about 3 things to be grateful about. Or you could have a jar and put a piece of paper in it with a good thing that happened to you today. It can be really big or tiny. Anything from ‘I saw a beautiful beetle today’ to ‘Mum has come out of the hospital today’.

* Singing is another great way to support Fire and ease anxiety. You don’t have to be a great singer. Just enjoy the time singing. Some people have joined a virtual choir. Some people are just signing in the shower or when they hear a favourite song. The idea is to just sing and enjoy yourself while doing it!

 

Worry and the Earth

 

The Earth is very much about our diet and about caring, caring for other people and been cared for.

 

* What are you eating? What we eat and how we eat is one of the most important thing we can do to support ourselves, both physically and emotionally. Taking the time to eat, eating as a family and making it an enjoyable experience (I often tell people to think about the French and how they can have long meals together as a family, send eating but also talking, laughing, connecting with the people around them).

* Caring for people is something a lot of people seem to do quite easily. Women, in particular, will care for their children, their partner. At this moment, maybe it will be more about helping your next-door neighbour who can’t go out of the house. Or it could be a plant on your windowsill or a pet.

* Caring for yourself! This is the thing that is often going right at the bottom of the priority list. But now is the time to care for yourself, the same way you care for other people around you. Make a list of the things you want to do for your own wellbeing. Is t about doing some exercise because you are feeling frustrated? Is it about looking at your diet, connecting with some friends? Whatever it is you really need to do to feel better, make it a priority (id recommend to do it either first thing in the morning or last thing at night, so there is less chance for other things to creep in and ‘steal’ that me time)

* Have a routine. Routine and rhythm are essential to support the Earth. Especially if you are home not working, it is easy to lose any routine we might have. I have seen people getting up much later, meals being moved around at different times etc .… In reality, having some sort of routine helps our body to function better. When we stick to a similar time to go to bed and get up in the morning, it promotes sleep. Keeping some routine about getting dressed in the morning after breakfast (has anyone being staying in their pj’s until lunchtime?), going out for some fresh and exercise in the afternoon will all help.

 

Grief and the Metal.

 

This one I think is important both on a physical and on an emotional point of view. Metal is about sadness but also about letting go and of course the breath.

 

* Let go of things. This is the right time now to go through your cupboard and let go of the things that don’t serve you anymore. Is there any clothes you never wear, kitchen appliances you know you will never use?

* Try alternate nostril breathing.

      • With your index finger resting over the bridge of your nose, block one nostril with either your thumb or your middle finger (depending on which nostril you are blocking). Breathing in, block the right nostril with a finger. Breathing out, move your finger away and block the left nostril. Breathing in, keep your left nostril blocked. Breathing out, move your finger away and block the right nostril again. Continue for up to 5 mins.
      • You can also look at that video for more information.

 

You can also find more ideas in my previous post here.

 

Just looking at all that list, it can feel a bit overwhelming. Just remember that you are not supposed to do everything. You need to concentrate only on things about what will make the most difference to you at the moment. Are you feeling particularly anxious? Then focus on activities that will rebalance Fire. Are you feel particularly frustrated, look at activities balancing the Wood.

Most importantly, make those a priority. At this moment in time, we don’t really know how long we will stay in lockdown, so looking after ourselves and our mental health should be a priority. The best is to choose one or two activities and make a pact with yourself to do them every day.

And as usual, if you have any question, please fire away!

 

 

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Supporting Our Immune System

Thanks to the Corona Virus, there has never been a time when protecting ourselves from pathogens and strengthening our immune system has felt as relevant as it is today. You probably have seen a lot of advice around, some of which will always be relevant (e.g. washing your hands, covering your mouth if you are coughing etc…).

But there are many things you can do to support your immune system ‘from within’. This where Chinese Medicine has an excellent framework that sets out a clear guidance.

 

The 5 Elements

 

Chinese medicine sees the body as a relationship between 5 Elements. Each of these Elements is related to an (energetic) organ. They are interconnected to each other along what is called the ‘Nourishing cycle’ where each Element is supporting, nourishing the next one.

 

So, we have Fire nourishing Earth and Earth nourishing Metal. Metal is nourishing Water etc….

The Element associated with our immune system is Metal. It is also associated with the Lungs (and interestingly the Large Intestine too).

According to that system, our immune system (Metal) is strengthened by our digestive system (Earth). This is not surprising when we know that about 80% of our immune system is in the gut!

It is also supporting Water, so having a ‘strong’ Water Element ensure that we don’t put a lot of strain on the immune system (Metal) (draining t in the process).

 

It’s those two relationships that explain how you can support your immune system (Metal) ‘from within’.

 

3 ways to boost the immune system

 

From the relationship between Earth, Metal and Water, you can see 3 ways of supporting our immune system by strenghtening:

  • The Metal/Lung directly
  • The Earth/digestive system
  • The Water

Supporting Metal

Don’t forget to breathe!

Because Metal is associated with the Lungs, any activity that will make your Lungs work better will support that Element. This could be one of the following below.

 

1- Do a breathing meditation:

Breathing will be one tool that will help to strengthen the Lungs and generate relaxation and strengthen the Lungs/Metal. You can do that breathing meditation quickly (It will take only a few minutes) and do it a few times in the day.

  • Sit down on a chair, with your back straight, in a relaxed way. Relax your shoulders and your face (Do you tend to frown, is your forehead tense or relaxed? What about your jaw?).
  • Close your mouth and breathe from your nose. Check that your tongue is relaxed and touching the roof of your mouth.
  • Breathe IN counting slowing to 4.
  • Hold your breath for a count to 2.
  • Breathe OUT counting slowing to 4.
  • Hold your breath for a count of 2.
  • Repeat 5 times.

 

2- Belly breathing:

Very often, we use shallow breathing. When we breathe in, our shoulders are going up and we don’t take a full breath. This isn’t our ‘natural’ way of breathing but is usually due to internal tension. If you look at a young child breathing, they will breathe from the abdomen, their tummy moving up and down while their shoulders don’t move.

As you are breathing from the abdomen, you will find you can take bigger breaths. This, in turn, will strengthen the Lung and increase the oxygenation in the body. Try this exercise:

  • Lie down on the floor on your bed and make yourself comfortable.
  • Take the time to scan your body, relaxing any tension (Take particular care of your shoulders and face).
  • Put one hand over your abdomen.
  • Let your tongue relax and touch the roof of your mouth.
  • As you breathe IN, breathe with your abdomen and feel your abdomen rising underneath your hand.
  • As you breathe OUT, feel your abdomen going down under your hand.
  • Carry on breathing like this for 5 mins (or more).

 

3- Yoga:

 

Yoga is a form of exercise, and just because of the movement involved, it will help with relaxation. However, with Hatta Yoga or Yin Yoga, there is also a strong emphasis on the breath, making it closer to a type of meditation in movement.

Yoga is allowing you to concentrate on slowing down your movements and your breathing by linking the speed of your movements with your breath too.

 

 

 

Cover your neck:

 

In Chinese Medicine, we see pathogenic factors (all the bacteria and viruses) as entering the body through the neck. Always covering your neck (e.g. with scarf), especially if it’s windy or cold outside will help you protect yourself from invasions.

 

Supporting Earth

 

This is about supporting our digestive system and can be done in various ways, through our diet, through rhythm, through care.

 

Eating well

 

Eating an appropriate diet at this moment in time is probably one of the most important things you can do. As we are all stuck at home, it is easy to fall into ‘unhelpful patterns’ eating ‘comfort’ foods or just out of boredom.

 

1- Sweet food:

In Chinese medicine, the Earth likes the flavour sweet but it’s the gentle sweetness of white rice, a carrot or an apple, not the high sugar of a Mars bar or from a pot of ice cream. Eating foods that are sugary actually damages the digestive system, in the same way that we know a diet that is too high in sugar negatively affects our gut flora and therefore our health.

 

2- Warm and cooked foods:

It also likes warm and dislikes cold food such as icy cold Water, fruit juice out of the fridge or ice-cream. Sticking to warm or room temperature foods will help support the digestive system

In the same way, raw foods can be quite hard to digest and the Earth much prefers cooked/slow-cooked meals. Avoid too many salads at the moment.

A stew, soups, foods cooked in a slow cooker will make it easier for the digestive system and will help improve your energy in general and the immune system.

 

3- Eat foods with a variety of colour.

Each colour is associated with an organ (yellow for Earth, red for Fire, green for Wood….). Eating a diet as colourful as possible to ensure that you are supporting the whole body.

 

 

Have some rhythm in your day

 

As a lot of us are at home, the rhythm of the day imposed by getting to work on time, dropping the children at school has all disappeared.

Earth is thriving on routine and rhythm. Simply keeping some sort of routine of when you get up, when you go to bed and at what you are having your meals can be enough to bring some routine to your day. It’s also great on a mental health point of view as so many of us are stuck in our houses.

 

Caring and being cared for

 

The Earth is all about caring, like a mother caring for her children. Caring and being cared for can be strengthening. The danger here is two folds though: over caring and refusing help, especially for women.

 

1- Caring for people:

Over caring happens when we do everything for everyone and out ourselves last. Especially as we are at home with our whole family, it is very easy to start trying to be everything to everyone. We can try to be the one who looks after the children, the one maybe still works from home full time, the teacher for the children, the homemaker still cooking and cleaning. It is not sustainable and it will be essential to learn to step back and not do everything (or not everything perfectly) so we don’t end up burnt out, stressed and exhausted.

So, keep an eye on things. Are you trying to achieve too much and be everything to everyone?

 

2- Help:

This is about feeling cared for. Refusing help is removing that opportunity to feel cared for (and loosing on the chance to lessen our workload!).

Take the time of stopping and say YES to offer of help. Maybe this is a friend proposing to do some shopping for you while they are out. Perhaps this is your teenager helping to do some cooking, baking a cake (that seems to be popular in y house!) or proposing to take the dog out. Maybe it’s a friend having a virtual cuppa with you while helping you find ideas on how to occupy your primary-age child.

 

Supporting Water

 

The Water Element is associated with the (energetic) kidneys is really about our connexion to the earth/the natural world. The Water is about being grounded. Being grounded can help with the feeling of overwhelm we all have been experiencing recently.

 

Spending time in nature

 

1- Spend some time in the sun.

Sunlight is an excellent source of energy but not just for vitamin D. Sunlight helps us feeling more energetic and more settled. It helps to regulate sleep patterns and reduce anxiety as well as helps strengthening our immune system too. Spending 20 mins outside every morning is a simple way to get what we need from the sun.

 

2- Walk outside bare feet.

Ok this is something more adequate for the summer rather than in the middle of winter. But connecting with the Earth and nature directly through our skin has a calming and relaxing effect on our nervous system (aka it triggers the parasympathetic system). Try walking barefoot 10 mins outside every day (weather dependant of course!)

 

3- Feel your feet

While standing in a relaxed way, just feel the sole of your feet. Pay attention to the sensations and imagine/feel the energy going deep down into the Earth. Maybe, if the weather is right, do it outside on bare feet. Carry on for about 1 or 2 minutes. You can do this as often as you want during the day.

 

4- Work with soil or clay.

It could be working in your garden, repotting plants or trying to create a nice pottery. More simply, you can use a set from a child’s pottery clay of you have some and work with it.

 

Rest and sleep

 

1- How much are you doing?

Rest really should be in big letters because so many of us are used to burn the candle at both ends. And yes even now that we are advised to stay at home, you can still do too much (for the energy YOU have at your disposal). It might be that you have started running as a form of exercise and are pushing yourself too much (Are you feeling exhausted when you are coming back home?). It might be that you are trying to do too much (be a teacher, a parent and working from home). Conserving your energy, as to not drain the Water, starts by not overdoing things.

 

2– Sleep

A lot of us are guilty of that: staying up late, much too late finishing to watch a film. Scrolling through our phone….. On the top of it, the current events are often making jittery and can make sleep more elusive.

Having a routine helps both to ensure we get enough sleep and to have a more settled sleep.

 

Fear

 

Fear is the emotion associated with the Water Element and there is plenty of that around at the moment.

One way to lessen fear to be very mindful about how much news/social media we consume. Just as we often are careful of what we eat, we should be cautious of what put in our mind.

My advice would be to limit how much news you watch, how much time you spend on social media (or for me, how much research you are reading on the CV-19!!). Be mindful of what sort of feeling it’s triggering for you and whether it feeds a sense of fear and overwhelm. I found that reading the news/Facebook once a day is probably the most I can do at the moment.

 

Acupressure

 

Last but not least, you can also do some acupressure (putting pressure on an acupuncture point) on the sole of your feet.

You can massage for a few minute one point right on the sole of your foot.

 

 

  • Kid1 is located on the sole of your foot (see photo).
  • Gently massage that area (it might feel like a bruise) for 3~5 minutes on each side.
  • Don’t press so hard as to hurt yourself!

 

Finally, you don’t have to do everything above!! Chose a couple of points to start with and see how you are getting on. Try and work them out into your routine, whatever it is at the moment and then review what is working or not working in a week.

 

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acupuncture and anxiety

5 Steps To Live Anxiety Free

If you struggle with anxiety, if it’s getting in the way of your everyday life, stopping you from enjoying the things around you, then you are not alone. Our modern life is full of stresses. From random acts of violence, politics or the impact of the environment on ourselves and our health to the ‘small’ everyday stresses on the road (did you just see that car overtaking!?!) or at work, who wouldn’t be anxious?

It is estimated that about 1 in 6 persons have been affected by an ‘neurotic health problem’ in the previous week and women are twice more likely to be affected than men.

There are many types of anxiety, from the very circumstantial anxiety of doing a talk in front of a big audience to more chronic disorders such as panic attacks or general anxiety disorder (GAD).

By learning how to reset our ways to respond to stress, you can allow to calm the anxiety down.

1 : Recognise what is going on

Very often, anxiety shows itself through very physical symptoms. You might be feeling your heart beating, sometimes very quickly, having a feeling of weight over your chest, getting dizzy or nauseous. You might be struggling to fall asleep at night, have some unsettling dreams or nightmares. Or you might have the urge to just run away to escape the situation. All of those are symptoms of anxiety kicking in, a biological response to a perceived threat, even when there is no immediate or direct threat. Remember these are just feelings, not the reality.

2: First Aid technique

The best way to calm anxiety on the go is to concentrate on your breath. Breathing in and out slowly from your nose will help calming your heart rate and your breathing as well as relax your body and mind.

First breathe in through your nose counting to 4, have a brief pause and then breathe out through your nose counting to 4 again. Whilst breathing out, concentrate on any area of tension (shoulders and the forehead when you are frowning are two areas where we often hold our tension) and visualize the tension melting away.

3: Exercise

This is simple. Exercise is wonderful to reduce stress and therefore anxiety. Any exercise is ok but even more so if you really enjoy it.

4 : Massage P6

P6 is an acupuncture point on the inside of your arm. This is the same point that is used to ease travel sickness so you can either massage the point with a finger for a couple of minutes on each side or use one of those travel sickness band.

To locate the point:P6 is situated between the two tendons on the inside of your arm, about 3 finger width from the wrist (see picture). To check that you are at the right place, put some pressure on that point. It should feel slightly ‘bruisy’.

 

 PC6 image

 

5: Get some acupuncture

In my clinic, I regularly see people who are or have suffered with anxiety. Acupuncture and ear acupuncture (where you put some very small needles in the ear) are both very efficient at calming anxiety down. But they can also make the body itself stronger so that people are more able to deal with anxiety inducing situations, tackling both the symptoms and the root of the issue.

 

Over to you

What are your tips to calm anxiety? Not every tip will work with everyone and you might have to do a bit of trial and error before finding what is working best for you.

 

We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you tackle anxiety. Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.

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The Secret Of A Healthy Life

There has been a recurring subject coming up recently in my clinic. One about self-care. Whether you want to have more energy, be more relaxed or less anxious, the first step is often to start looking after yourself better.

Let’s be honest, we’ve all done it. Whether you are working long hours as a nurse, a teacher or a business person or simply because you’ve wanted to do it all yourselves, work, family and friends, we’ve all fallen into that trap at some point. And the result is always the same. Running on empty, feeling exhausted, being grumpy and irritable.

The first step? Making self-care a priority. And that starts by putting yourself first.

I am sure you have come across the expression ‘You can’t pour from an empty glass’. This describes very well the fact you can’t give if your own glass is empty. To be able to give to others, work well, support your team or your children, you need to have something to give, some energy left in the glass. That’s why taking time to refill your glass up is so essential and selfishly selfless. That’s why it should be part of everyone’s life.

 

Self-care is a routine in your day, week and year when you take the time to nourish yourself, replenish your energy levels and relax.

 

1-   Take 15 minutes a day to pause

Spend 15 minutes doing an activity that makes you feel good. Maybe it’s something that makes you laugh, something that helps you relax or something that makes you feel great about yourself.

A list of things you could do

  • Go for a walk or do some exercise
  • Write in a journal
  • Watch a funny video
  • Read an inspirational book
  • Listen to some music you love, one that makes you want to stand up and dance (and do it!)
  • Sing (you can sing in the shower so no one can hear you if you feel too self-conscious)
  • Have a bath with Epson Salt and Lavender
  • Have a look at this post for more ideas.

 

2-   Have a pause in your week

This is about having a break in the week, maybe a couple of hours to spend doing something on your own (No children allowed!)

You could:

  • Try something new that you have always been wondering about
  • Go for a massage (or an acupuncture treatment!)
  • Take an hour to read a book in a café without being disturbed
  • Go for a long walk in the countryside or even in a park near home
  • Do some gardening
  • If you are feeling artistic, do some art (painting, music etc…)
  • Do some meditation or go to a meditation class …

 

3-   Have a break in the year.

I personally know that I need some regular break during the year. So, I take a break every 4 months or so as I know that keeps me well. Longer than that and I am feeling much more tired (and then I start dropping balls too!). See what is working well for you. How long can you work without a holiday and still be well? What do you tend to do? Book your holidays as it comes or are you more purposeful?

Things that can make a difference when you take a longer break:

  • If you have the possibility, try and go away. Being somewhere different helps the energy move in the body and is therefore much more relaxing than staying a home
  • Have a break for a day (or more) from all electronics. No emails (of any type!), no social media. Switch your phone or tablet off for the day and enjoy your time without being disturbed by constant notifications.
  • If possible, have a two consecutive weeks break once in the year. The first week, we seem to switch off from our daily life and it’s in the second week that we start to really recover from tiredness.

 

4-   Put it in your diary.

The only way you can do all that is to be purposeful about it. You need to make it and treat it as something important, even essential, in your life.

  • Plan the year ahead and put your holidays down at work and in your calendar.
  • Write down your break in the week in your calendar. Treat it with the same importance than if it was a meeting at work or an appointment with your GP (Because it is as important!) and don’t let other people encroach into that time.
  • Make your daily 15 minutes of pause part of your normal daily routine. Maybe it will be part of your lunch break or something you will do once the kitchen is tidy at the end of the day. Making it part of your routine just like brushing your teeth is the best way to be sure it will happen every day.

 

Over to you:

Do you have a daily routine to relax at the end of the day or nourish yourself? Or is part of the long list of things you ‘ought’ to do or were doing until life just took over?

 

We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you on your journey to health. Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.

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Are You In Danger Of Burning Out?

In a society where the ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality is put on a pedestal, where long hours are the norm, burnout has become an epidemic.

Burnout tends to affect more women than men, probably due to the numerous plates we are supposed to keep up in the air. Our roles as a mother, a wife, a worker, a daughter, a friend etc…. are putting constant demands on us.

But most of us know what it feels to run on empty, whilst not giving ourselves the time to refuel and recover. Add to that the pace of our life, increasingly higher expectations and job insecurity, a big portion of us feels they are constantly under stress. So it’s easy to see how we can end up feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.

 

What is burnout?

Burnout is a mixture of:

Exhaustion:  Feeling emotionally exhausted, depleted, and a loss of energy.

Cynicism:  Having a negative attitude toward clients and those you work with, feeling irritable, and withdrawing from people and activities you once enjoyed.

Inefficacy:  Experiencing diminished personal accomplishment, a perceived decline in competence or productivity, and expending energy at work without seeing any results.

Research discovered that men and women process these burnout dimensions differently.  Women typically experienced exhaustion first, followed by cynicism, then inefficacy. The men, on the other hand, tended to experience cynicism first and then exhaustion.

What are the signs of burnout?

Burnout is always associated with some very physical and emotional symptoms such as

1-    Chronic fatigue, from being tired every day to full on exhaustion where you just can’t face the day ahead.

2-    Insomnia

3-    Lack of focus and concentration

4-    Physical symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal pain, dizziness, fainting or headaches (all of which should be medically assessed).

5-    Increased illness.

6-    No appetite

7-    Anxiety and depression

8-    Anger

 

Burnout in Chinese Medicine.

In Chinese medicine, burnout is what we call a mixed syndrome, one side made of excess (in this case excess stress) and the other of deficiency (tiredness/exhaustion coming from basically doing too much without appropriate rest).

These two sides can feed each other. Stress has an impact on the body, including the digestive system. The more stressed we are, the more impact it has, weakening the digestive system and therefore making us weaker and more tired.

But also, as we are getting more tired, we tend to get stressed more easily, react more quickly. I’m sure most of us have experienced being very short tempered (or feeling low) after a long day (or week!) at work.

I often describe the way the body deals with energy as having two bank accounts. One is a current account that is filling up thanks to a good night of sleep and the appropriate food we are eating. The other is a saving account of energy. As we are going through our day, we are using the energy from our current account. If one day, we are doing too much (aka we need more energy than what is available in our current account), we can go withdraw some energy from our saving account to carry on with our day without too much impact.

If we carry on like this for a while, our saving account is likely to get really low and that’s when we start experiencing so many of the symptoms associated with tiredness/exhaustion, the lack of appetite, anxiety, some type of insomnia, lack of concentration etc…. that are so present when people are burnout.

To be able to feel well again, we need to replenish our saving account. And this happens when we have a little bit of energy leftover at the end of the day in our current account and we can ‘transfer’ it to our saving account at night.

 

“The first step to heal from burnout is Self Care”

The first step to heal from burnout is self care. In this case, self care is to:

–       Learn to handle our energy levels better

–       Balance our stress so it affects us as little as possible.

 

 5 Ways To Heal Burnout

1-    Eat well.

As the saying goes, ‘You are what You eat’. To be able to feel well and recover that energy, we need to put the right sort of fuel in our bodies. This means drinking enough water and eating a balanced diet. It also means avoiding foods that are creating spikes in your blood sugar level. These are what we call ‘sweet foods’ in Chinese medicine and too much sweetness is weakening the digestive system (Remember the digestive system is where we get the energy from our food. A weaken digestive system means we wont be as efficient to get that energy across). Avoiding sweets, biscuits, white pasta and bread etc… will allow you to recover your energy more quickly by strengthening the digestive system.

2-    Sleep well.

Look at how much sleep you are getting. For a week or so, listen to your body and go to bed when you are ready (rather than when the film finishes or when you think it’s’ the ‘right’ time to go to bed). Watch when you are then waking up, if you wake up on your own or because of your alarm, how you are feeling in the morning. It will quickly become clear that you need a certain number of hours to feel well. For some of us, this will be 7 hours, for others it will be 8 or 9.5 hours or maybe 6 hours. Everyone is different. And then make sure you go to bed early enough to get those hours of sleep every night.

3-    Remember the saying ‘you can’t pour water from an empty glass’? Well this is the time to fill your glass again.

First of all, decide what activities are nourishing for you. For some people, it will be meeting up with friends, for others going out in the countryside and for others again, this will be having some quiet time on your own or listening to music. Listen to yourself and see what is making you feel happy and well.

Then commit to do one of those activity at least once in the week. Get some ‘ME time’ focusing on feeling well again.

4-    Learn to say NO.

Sometimes there are so many demands on our time that we can’t possibly do it all. If we don’t want to have to constantly dig into our saving account (or even better if we want to fill it again), we need to make a choice and decide what is and isn’t really essential in light of the amount of energy we actually have (rather than the energy we are ‘supposed to have’). When another mum at school is asking us to bake some cakes for the school fete, can we do it? Do we have enough energy or are we going to dip into our savings? Is it essential or can we actually say ‘I’m sorry but not this time’?

5-    Plan some activities to lower your stress levels.

It is best to spend a little bit of time, 10~15 mins every day doing something that will help you relax. Have a look here at ideas of things you can do.

 

Over To You

What is helping you when you are starting to feel overwhelmed and burnt out? Do you have strategies in place and are they working for you?

 

We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you on your journey to a health . Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.

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