Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners do more than just poke people with needles. They use non-needling techniques, such as moxibustion and cupping, and prescribe herbs amongst others. They also offer advice — TCM inspired tips that can help you feel healthier and happier.

12 Health Tips To Remember

Some people heed this advice and others ignore it, often to the chagrin of TCM practitioners. There are many simple practices that, when committed to, can drastically improve a person’s symptoms and overall quality of life. If only everyone remembered to do them!

Here are 10 do-it-yourself health tips that TCM practitioners wish everyone would remember.

Connect With People

I have come to believe that people need connection more than anything else. We TCM practitioners use needles as a starting point, but it is our relationship with patients—the conversations, the gentle touch — that is most important. Isolation, and holding independence as the ultimate goal, separates us from healing potential.

Connection in the simplest sense can begin with acknowledgement of its importance. Helping others, greeting a homeless person, looking people in the eye, recognizing the good in each moment. These things increase our potential to heal ourselves and others. From a TCM perspective, they build and move Qi.

Breathe Deeply Into Your Belly

In TCM, the Lungs govern the circulation of Qi in the body. When we feel stress, the breath automatically becomes more shallow and rapid. Shallow, tense breathing tells the body to remain in a state of fight-or-flight. By inviting our breath to be slow, deep, easy, and gentle, we rein in the stress response, protect the adrenals from exhaustion, and activate the self-healing (parasympathetic) mode.

A daily breathing practice, which can be as simple as five minutes a day, or 10 breaths every hour, is the fastest way I know of to re-pattern the nervous system. While you’re breathing deeply, it’s helpful to focus on your belly. People can coax their own bodies into relaxation by focusing on deep belly breathing. There are so many parasympathetic nerve endings in the belly, so deep breathing into that area shifts the body into rest-and-digest mode.

If everyone spent time each day breathing into their bellies, many physical problems would be reversed. It’s like doing acupuncture on yourself.

Exercise

If only everyone would take the time to exercise every day. I’m not talking about running a marathon. There’s nothing quite as simple yet profoundly helpful as a daily brisk walk in the park, or dancing with your kid in the living room. Our bodies are not designed to be static. They are designed to be in fairly constant motion except while sleeping or resting.

From a TCM perspective, too much sitting injures the Spleen, which affects digestion, energy level, and even makes us more likely to gain weight. Blood and Qi stagnation, the most common cause of pain that I see in my clinic, also occur when people have sedentary lifestyles.

Daily exercise will make you happier, less stressed, and better equipped to handle life. So, go take a hike!

Use A Dry Skin Brush

Dry skin brushing takes just minutes a day but makes a huge difference in how someone feels and looks. Using a natural-fiber, stiff-brissled, sisal body brush on dry skin before or after a shower is a great way to stimulate the skin, the lymphatic system, and the acupuncture meridian system. At the same time, it increases peripheral circulation and boosts immune function, which gives a healthy glow to the skin.

Stretch Before Bed

Stretching in the evening is just as important as in the morning, which is when most people think about doing it. Like acupuncture, stretching helps break up stagnation and encourages movement throughout the channels. Stretching in the evening helps loosen the muscles that haven’t been used during the day. Many people spend their evenings sitting on the couch watching TV. Some hit the gym first thing in the morning, then sit at a desk all day. These routines prime the body for stiffness, and can produce pain at night and upon waking.

Get To Bed By 11pm

I encourage everyone (including myself) to go to bed at 11pm so that they are sleeping soundly by 1am. Each organ system in TCM has an assigned two-hour time frame. One o’clock in the morning is when when the Liver time cycle begins. Between 1 and 3 am is the optimal time for the Liver to cleanse itself. This cleansing, which plays a big role in whether we feel rested when we wake up, happens most efficiently when a person is in a deep state of sleep.

Choose Tea

Everyone should drink warm herbal teas instead of cold soft drinks and diet sodas. The phosphoric acid in colas can be harmful to bone health, and it can soften tooth enamel. According to TCM dietary theory, warm drinks are most supportive to the digestive system, and the bitter flavour of tea clears excess heat and dries dampness from the body.

Stop Waiting For Perfect

Stop waiting for the perfect time to engage in perfect behaviour. Many people consider anything less than a dramatic life change to be a failure. So, they wait until the perfect time to start eating the perfect diet. Or they wait until the perfect time to start working out again, since anything less than seven days a week at the gym is a failure. This kind of all-or-nothing thinking leads to being perpetually stuck.

In TCM lingo, we call this stagnation. Remember that even small steps forward are beneficial—and far easier to maintain in the long run.

Engage In Conscious Eating

Everyone should practice conscious eating. This means being sensitive to portion size but also quality of food and eating habits—for example, not eating in the car or late at night, or not eating highly processed foods. When we don’t bring consciousness to our eating habits, our Spleen and Stomach systems can become easily overwhelmed. When this happens, digestion slows down and cannot convert food into Qi and blood. Qi and blood deficiencies give rise to a variety of issues, including poor sleep, poor digestion, menstrual dysfunction, infertility, and mood disorders.

Listen To Your Body

When we are in a state of balance, our bodies stay healthy on their own, without much effort on our part. When we are out of balance, our bodies signal alarms. These alarms can show up as fatigue, pain, or depression, to name just a few.

If everyone listened for these signals and took action when they happened—for example, made a diet change or started going to bed earlier—we’d all be much better off. When we take care of ourselves, we are better able to take care of the people we love.

10 DIY Health Tips To Remember
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