Over the holidays, it seems that our hustle and bustle to get the perfect gift for those we love has left us lacking in one of the most amazing things we can have in life: quiet.
I can’t tell you how many patients have told me the half hour on the treatment table, where they get to be still and do NOTHING, is the “best part of my day”. And, while it’s awesome that acupuncture offers that as an additional “bonus”, it’s too bad we don’t make that quiet time a part of more of our days.
In Oriental Medicine, we know the emotions that make up what we call “stress” can damage our organ function and health over time. Worry injures the Spleen (digestion), fear injures the Kidney, anger (frustration) injures the Liver, over-stimulation injures the Heart (and mind), and sadness (regret) injures the Lungs. Over time, any and all of this causes us the chronic aches, pains and diseases that plague so many today. Giving ourselves quiet time to release the emotions of stress can not only make us emotionally and mentally more content, it can really benefit the health of our physical bodies!
We can find more quiet by:
Shutting off the devices. One full hour before bed should be spent without any electronic stimulation. No tv, cell phone, ipad/tablet, video games or other screen time. The light waves from these devices stimulate our primitive brain and make it harder to fall asleep or to reach restorative sleep.
Giving up on perfection. Yes, we all want to do nice things and have a nice holiday; but perfection is a myth and pushing to achieve it is a serious burden on our emotional well-being. The slightly lop-sided tree or crazily decorated cookies (courtesy of a young child-helper) are ok. In fact, they’re awesome. The time spent ENJOYING the tasks around holiday preparation is more important than the final result. (The fancy name for that is Mindfulness – being in the moment without worry about the result or judgement – and studies show it’s really good for you!)
Sleeping. Staying up late to do “one more thing” will catch up with you quickly! Prioritize and let some stuff go – or ask for help (refer to the previous paragraph about this).
Eating healthy. Yes, the holidays are a “death-trap” for the healthy diet. Most of us have strongly founded traditions of food and drink that may not be quite as healthy as we want them to be. At holiday gatherings let yourself indulge a little. Don’t overdo it, but if Grandma only makes her famous mince pie once a year; have a small slice. The days and meals in between those gatherings, let’s be a little more conscious to have more warm, fresh, homemade, organic meats, veg and grains. And water – plenty of water!
Keeping to self-care regimens. It’s tempting to steal time from our schedule of Acupuncture treatments, exercise, meditation, etc. to get everything done; but these practices are VITAL to keeping you healthy, happy, calm and sane during the rush of this time of year. MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF.
And, oh yeah, take some quiet time. Watch the snow fall, listen to the wind in the tree branches, or a fire in the fireplace. Have a cup of tea and really, really enjoy it. Here’s wishing you all health, happiness, peace (and quiet) this year!