Navigating stay at home orders, working from home, schooling from home, re-opening phases, and the myriad other new things that are now a daily part of life is stressful. It can be easy to get overwhelmed with each new development and all the uncertainty that surround our lives because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Traditional Chinese medicine offers something old and grounding to turn back to during this time.
The idea that supporting mental health is a significant factor in supporting physical health is a central tenet of traditional Chinese medicine. Beyond acupuncture and herbal remedies, TCM takes a holistic approach to health that includes simple things you can do each day to foster physical health through supporting that mind body connection. Here are six things you can incorporate into your daily routine to mitigate stress and stay healthy right now.
Mental and physical health have a direct correlation on our immune system – reminding us that we can take positive actions to to bolster our immune response with these simple steps.
Sleep. Get enough sleep! Your body does a significant amount of healing each night while you’re asleep. Don’t lose track of any helpful routines you have to help yourself get restful sleep each night. If you don’t have any, consider incorporating a dedicated routine of winding down each evening to get your body ready for sleep. Putting away your phone, drinking a cup of herbal tea, reading a novel or some poetry, or doing some simple yoga stretches are all ways to signal to your body that it’s time to start winding down for the day. Try to go to sleep at the same time each evening too. While so many things are up in the air, your sleep schedule shouldn’t be one of them, and your body will thank you for that.
Hydrate. Drinking enough water is another one of the simplest ways to stay healthy in your body and mind. If this is a hard one for you, adding some lemon or cucumber to your water can make it more enjoyable. Make it a goal to drink about a cup of water each hour throughout the day. It’s amazing how big of a difference this can make.
Move. Move your body! Even five minutes each day will make a difference. Incorporate movement into your day in whatever way is most accessible for you. That might be going on a walk, walking an extra lap or two around your home while doing chores, having a dance party with your kids or dog, or moving through some yoga poses. In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, there are more free online yoga resources than ever if having some guidance will help you to incorporate movement into your day. There is no perfect type of movement – the key is to move on a regular basis, a few minutes here and there.
Eat well. Don’t let go of healthy eating habits right now. When we’re stressed, it’s really easy to want comfort in any form, including comfort food. Which is totally okay and understandable! But make sure you’re eating vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and protein as well. Again, with everyone stuck at home, free online recipes for your quarantine abound. Making sure your body is well-nourished is one of the best things you can do for long-term physical and mental health.
Acupressure. There are many acupuncture points you can use at home through acupressure, which is simply pressing on certain points on your body with your fingers instead of with acupuncture needles. Applying pressure to these points activates Qi circulation in much the same way acupuncture needles do. To relieve stress, here are two common points that are easy to access yourself:
- Great Rushing point: this point is located in the webbing between your big and second toes. Applying pressure here helps maintain a smooth flow of energy throughout your body. It’s often quite tender to the touch – a little sign from your body that it’s a sweet spot to help your body rebalance.
- Union Valley point: this point is located in the webbing between your thumb and first finger. Apply pressure here by using your thumb and first finger of the opposite hand. Activating this point helps relieve stress and tension in your body. This point connects to your lumbar/low back area as well as areas on your head (sinuses, ears, frontal headaches) – press gently throughout the entire area and pause on any spot that feels extra tense or tender….
For each point, you can apply pressure for between one and three minutes on each hand or foot. Many acupuncture points can help with different kinds of stress relief, and your acupuncturist is a great tool for learning about more points and acupressure techniques.
Go easy on yourself. Be really gentle with yourself. It’s okay to not do all these things all the time. Do what you can for yourself and those around you. Something is better than nothing.