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:)
Melissa is a self described 'nerd' about all topics relating to health and wellness. She is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and co-owner of Open Circle Acupuncture & Healing.