Practical Ways to Start Healing Our Collective Covid-19 Trauma
This past weekend I had the great, good fortune to go away for the weekend on a winter getaway with a friend of mine. It's an amazing 'off the grid' retreat where we hike in with all of our stuff, to a beautiful cabin to spend the weekend. With only wood heat and candle light, the stillness and silence is so deep. We've gone every winter for the past three years, but this year felt different. Without even realizing how much I needed some time to let go, release and nourish my spirit, I started to fully grasp how much I had been 'holding on' throughout the craziness of this past year.
Between the pandemic itself, three kids schooling from home and managing a business during covid, to say that this year has been a lot, would definitely be an understatement. Now don't get me wrong, I'm very aware of how blessed I have been throughout all of this. Our family remaining employed, healthy and safely together has been an amazing gift and there have been many silver linings. But that does not take away from the fact that it's been stressful, not just for me, but in a more universal sense throughout the world, which affects us all!
I'm sure most of you are familiar with the 'fight or flight' aspect of our sympathetic nervous system, and how under a heightened state of acute stress the body goes into an anxious survival mode. The opposite of this state is the parasympathetic 'rest and digest' mode of our nervous system, and while that is much better and preferable to the 'fight or flight' there is a bit of a catch....
The vagus nerve is our 10th cranial nerve and controls the main functions of the parasympathetic nervous system. Well, according to Polyvagal Theory by Stephen Porges, there are three branches of our nervous system that have evolved over time:
1.Dorsal Vagal: initial part of the parasympathetic nervous system which provides immobilization strategies like 'playing dead' or freezing when faced with a potential threat.
2. Sympathetic: this is the well known 'fight or flight' response.
3. Ventral Vagal: most recent development of the nervous system that promotes social engagement and connection as a way of feeling safe.
During a traumatic event, the first two aspects of the nervous system are dominant and I'm guessing that many of us have fluctuated between the two. The dorsal vagal part of the nervous system makes a lot of sense during these times, because as a way of protecting us, the nervous system retreats from connection and contact. I think we are all weary of connecting through zoom and sometimes even weary of reaching out at all, but as things open up, that connection will be part of our path to healing.
Below are some practical suggestions for healing your nervous system during this crazy transition time:
1. Come and Get Some Acupuncture:
Yes, I know that I'm biased, but science is backing me up here in saying that acupuncture can balance your nervous system. The other thing we specialize in at Open Circle is connection! Our patients are our friends. We know that things are different and we are all wearing masks, but coming in for not just the treatment, but the human connection is something that our patients (and us) are greatly benefiting from.
2. Try Herbs and/or Supplements that focus on stress relief:
We have several great supplements and herbal remedies focused on calming and relaxing the stress response. The following are a few of our favorites, but if you ask us about them in the office, we can find the right one for you!
3. Begin to Reach Out to Friends and Loved Ones:
There is no better way to re-engage your ventral vagal nervous system, than to begin exercising your social muscles again (sorry introverts!). Call a friend or neighbor for a walk around town or on a local hiking trail. Meet for a coffee and chat (outside!), have a bonfire in your backyard and invite a few people over for a socially distanced gathering. Sometimes during the winter when it was so cold, this felt like more effort than it was worth, but now that spring is here, it will feed your spirit and relax your nervous system more than you realize!
Please know that all of us at Open Circle Acupuncture are thinking of you and are here for you whenever you need us! Happy Spring!
Pediatric Acupuncture: Powerful, Simple, Relaxing & Pain-Free!
Many people don’t realize that acupuncture & Chinese medicine are an amazing treatment option for children. Our body is naturally designed to self-heal and self-regulate. At a young age, children tend to heal very quickly because they have incredible blood flow and receptive energy. In fact, children tend to respond quicker than adults to the treatments for that very reason! Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about pediatric acupuncture. We hope that this dispels some of the myths and inspires some of you to give it a try for yourself or someone in your family!
1. What age groups do you treat with pediatric acupuncture?
Treatment with this style of non-insertive and gentle insertive techniques are for newborn to age 10. Of course, this is a general rule and sometimes exceptions are made for some older children. Generally, children age 10 and up can be treated in our group space with more traditional acupuncture.
2. Does my child need to have something wrong with them in order to receive acupuncture?
One of the basic tenants of Chinese medicine is that prevention is always better that needing a cure. Some parents choose regular acupuncture treatments to keep their children healthy through the normal process of growing. Others schedule acupuncture to help their children through various illnesses or health issues.
3. What are some of the conditions acupuncture can treat?
4. Will needles be used during my child’s treatment?
In some cases, very small needles may be used on your child. However, in many cases, we begin with non-needle treatment strategies. Some of the methods used are gentle stroking of the acupuncture channels and points on your child’s head, back, belly, legs and arms for an overall balancing of your child’s body. Specific acupuncture points may then be treated with magnets, small metal balls (press balls), lasers, gentle electro-stim or acupressure.
5. What happens during my child’s first treatment?
The initial consultation & treatment is 45 minutes to give enough time for connecting with your child and learning everything we need to know about their health history. We will gather information on your child’s overall health, sleep, appetite, mood and energy, check their pulse, look at their tongue and discuss goals for treatment. Then an acupuncture treatment will take place. Usually a treatment takes 10-15 minutes since children respond more quickly than adults. We also encourage them to rest for a few minutes after the treatment if they are able. We will provide recommendations on a treatment plan and may also discuss suggestions for diet, acupressure or other remedies that may be used at home.
6. What are follow-up visits like?
Follow-up visits for children are 15 minutes long and take place in our stretching area. This allows for a one-on-one treatment in a semi-private setting that won’t disrupt the ‘grown-ups’ in the group treatment space. We will have time to check-in with both parent and child while giving their treatment.
7. How much do treatments cost?
The initial consultation & treatment is 45-minutes long and costs $75. Follow-up visits are 15-minutes long and cost $50 if you pay as you go, or $195 for a package of 5-visits ($39.50/each).
8. How does acupuncture work in children? What’s the science?
Modern scientific research has shown acupuncture to have specific biological effects: Acupuncture promotes the release of endorphins and enkephalins, which are pain blocking biochemicals. When these hormones are released, blood flow in the body improves carrying with it beneficial nutrients, hormones and oxygen to the tissues and organs. It also activates the parasympathetic nervous system to move the body into a balanced state known as homeostasis.
Treating acupuncture channels and points is different in children than adults. Their bodies are working very hard to grow and develop and their energy (qi) is much closer to the surface of their bodies. Therefore, we can treat them using these non-invasive techniques more easily.
9. How many treatments will my child need and how often will he/she need to come?
Since every child is different, each plan will be customized to them. However, as a general rule most children respond very well to acupuncture and will see some response within the first few treatments. We usually start with 1-2 treatments per week and re-assess after 5-10 treatments.
10. Do you practice Chinese herbs or make supplement/self-care suggestions?
We’re so glad you asked! We are very passionate about helping to find all of the tools that are going to get your child feeling better. Often it takes a comprehensive approach including herbs and/or supplements, dietary changes, mindfulness practices etc. to truly bring about lasting change. Again, since each child is unique, we will custom these suggestions to each of their needs. We carry a complete line of pediatric herbal tinctures as well as some key supplements that can benefit your child’s overall health.
11. Are siblings allowed at the treatment?
In order to limit distraction for the patient, we strongly encourage one parent and one child to come together. Of course, we know this isn’t always possible, so if a sibling needs to join you, we ask that they remain in our waiting area during the session. Because we want to create a space of healing for your child, we also ask that the parent puts away their cell phones during their session.
We would love to explain more and answer any other questions you may have, so call us at (508) 393-1212 or email firstname.lastname@example.org!
Is Your Immune System Ready for Fall?
Fall is approaching quickly. It makes me think of fun activities like apple picking, hayrides and looking for the perfect pumpkin! Although we enjoy the opportunity to get out in the cool clear air and participate in these fall activities, colds and the flu are right around the corner. Add concerns about keeping ourselves protected from Covid-19, and next thing you know we are very stressed.
It turns out that stress, which we can’t seem to avoid lately, negatively impacts the immune system. Cortisol is released into the body when we experience anxiety, fear or some stressor in our environment. It is our body’s way of protecting us from threats, the “fight or flight” response. Once cortisol is released into our blood stream, our body becomes ready for action. Short-term increases in cortisol can reduce inflammation. However, if we don’t physically release this urge to action, cortisol can build up in the blood and increase inflammation. This can result in additional health problems.
White blood cells are part of the immune system. Certain types of white blood cells attach to an infected cell, multiply and destroy it, thus protecting you from an infection trying to invade your body. During times of stress, certain types of immune cells are reduced in your body impacting your ability to fight disease. This is not good. With Fall approaching and Covid-19 still a threat, you can’t afford to weaken your body’s ability to fight disease. You want your immune system in tip top shape for any attacks that may come your way.
How do you protect yourself against stress and the impact it has on the immune system?
In a recent study, Chinese Medicine researchers used modern techniques to measure the effects of acupuncture on the immune system. They found that it enhances the immune system, stimulates production of helper T cells, and promotes cytokines. Helper T cells and cytokines are involved in regulating the immune response.
Let’s take care of your stress and immune system so you can have a happy and healthy fall and winter! We’re here for you with acupuncture, supplements and herbs. Look forward to seeing you soon!
Raise your hand if you are having trouble achieving any kind of real balance in your life right now! I know you can't see it, but both of my hands are raised high! Ever since Covid-19 hit, the world has been turned upside down. Between the stress in the world, the feelings of insecurity about jobs and schools and worries about health, finding a state of inner balance might feel like it's impossible to find.
I love the above quote and chose it because:
A. It's true and it made me laugh!
B. It encourages us to give ourselves a break!
No matter how much intention we have to exercise, meditate, eat healthy, practice yoga, go for a hike, be present for our children and reach out to friends & family, we are not going to be perfect!! So everyone repeat after me, "I DO NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT!" In fact, that striving for perfection is in itself a state of imbalance. So take a deep breath and let's work together to try and find a way towards balance.
There have been times during quarantine where I was meditating everyday and other's where I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Sometimes the weight of the world feels too heavy to push through. In Chinese medicine, that feeling is called Qi (pronounced chee) stagnation. Stagnation is a kind of 'stuck-ness' in the body and mind.
Common symptoms of stagnation are: bloating, muscle tightness, jaw tension, irritability, depression, constipation, heavy tired feeling in the body, PMS and headaches.
Ever just feel stuck? Usually when we feel stagnant, the best thing we can do to feel better is to get moving, which of course is the last thing that we feel like doing! It's a dilemma. When feeling this way though, the best way to start to come out of it is to name it; "I'm feeling stuck right now." Then try to take one or two small actions to try to move that stagnation and start to feel better.
Here are a few small steps towards getting unstuck:
1. Drink a few tall glasses of lemon water: lemon water is cleansing to the liver, which is the main organ that makes us feeling stagnant so adding it to your water can really help!
2. Move your body a little: try a short walk, a few sit-ups or some stretching
3. Take some deep breaths: no need to close your eyes and meditate, just remember to breath a little more deeply, even if you are zoning out and looking at Facebook:)
4. Take a break from refined sugar & other processed foods that make stagnation worse.
So the thing about stagnation is, that it commonly leads to another imbalance in Chinese medicine called Qi Deficiency. Ever notice how exhausting stress and anxiety is? That is why in the clinic I often see patients who are both 'tired & wired'! It seems contradictory but when stress is revving high and our Qi is stagnant, it can quickly and easily lead to us becoming depleted and deficient. So if you are feeling run down and exhausted, don't just run for the coffee. Try some of these tips to actually nourish and replenish your Qi.
Tips for nourishing & tonifying deficiency:
1. Crawl into bed early and get some extra rest!
2. Eat some warm and nourishing foods. Even though it's summer, if you are feeling depleted, try eating some soup and other plant-based options, such as whole grains, healthy fats & lean protein sources.
3. Try a practice that builds and replenishes your energy such as yoga, meditation, Tai Chi or Qi Gong. If you look on youtube there are plenty of free videos that you can try!
In future posts, we'll get more into this topic and delve into the five elements: FIRE, EARTH, METAL, WATER & WOOD and how the balance between these elements within our bodies is so important to our physical and emotional balance. According to Chinese medicine, everything that exists in nature (such as these elements), also exists within our bodies, and so attuning ourselves with nature and the natural elements is one of the main keys to living a healthy, balanced life.
So my main suggestion to you in terms of finding balance, is to look to nature. Take advantage of this time by spending it near the oceans, lakes and forests that we are blessed to have all around us. Even just go walk barefoot in your yard, or take a blanket and hang out outside! Breathe it in and feel your mind relax and your body feel healthier!
Take care of yourselves and take care of those around you! See you soon:)
Learn 5 of our favorite acupressure points on the hand that are easy to treat and incredibly effective for pain relief!
Hello everyone! So with our business closed for over a month now, we've been staying in touch with lots of tips around immune boosting and stress relief, so I thought I'd take some time to focus on another extremely important topic, PAIN RELIEF! So many of my patients are not only unable to come here for acupuncture, but are being delayed with surgeries, cortisone injections and other therapies that they depend on for relief from their pain. So in this post, I am going to teach you my favorite acupressure points that are easily found on the hand, to treat pain in many different areas of the body.
The best way to treat this is for you or a fellow quarantined loved one to apply strong massage to the area. All of these points are quite strong and best avoided if you are pregnant.
I truly hope you are all doing well and staying healthy! Try the points above and please let me know if they helped you! If you want to meet up online for some acupressure, I am teaching an acupressure class every Monday at 12pm (noon)! Email or call us to sign up or find out more info!
The Acupuncturists at Open Circle Acupuncture & Healing are self-described 'nerds' about all topics of health and healing. We believe strongly in the power of self-care & a healthy mindset in supporting the healing of the body! We hope you enjoy our blog.