In Chinese Medicine, the Heart takes on the role of Emperor which means that it is the leader in charge of coordinating all activity in the body – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. The heart is also the home of our Shen (Spirit) and as acupuncturists, we take great notice of how peaceful your shen seems to be during each treatment session and treat you accordingly. In Chinese Medicine terms, if your heart does not have enough energy (qi) or nourishment (blood) then it cannot properly house your Shen. This leads to feelings of nervousness, restlessness and concerns like insomnia and nightmares, palpitations, difficulty taking deep breaths, and inability to concentrate. We all experience these sensations of the Heart being out of balance from time to time. If these feelings stick around for more than a day or two, you are probably due for an acupuncture tune-up. Acupuncture is incredibly good at calming the nervous system and rebalancing all of the organ systems so the Heart can get what it needs, and you can enjoy things again without the dose of anxiety.
Self Care for your Heart
Here are some easy, accessible ways you can love yourself and care for your emotional health on your own:
- Get out in the sun for an hour or more every day – this can be split into multiple small walks. The light of the sun causes your brain to release endorphins and decrease cortisol, thus lifting your mood.
- Give and Receive. Doing nice things for other people makes you feel so good! But when you give too much of yourself, your Heart Qi becomes too dispersed and weak. It’s ok to ask a friend or loved one to do a trade with you – plan a dinner swap where you take turns making nice meals for each other or take turns watching the kids and then use your downtime to take a bath in peace and quiet. Be creative and focus on getting what you need.
- Calming exercise like yoga can help you synchronize your breath with your body’s movement, slowing your thoughts down. Yoga comes in all difficulty levels - we love “Yoga with Adrienne” on YouTube, she is down-to-earth, supportive of all levels and can have you “finding what feels good” in under 20 minutes.
- Find contentment in the now with a Mindfulness practice. This involves 2 things – avoid dwelling in the past and avoid being anxious about the future. The only choice left is to be here now. “Be here now” is not only a mantra to keep your mind focused, but also a way of life that can have profound effects on your anxiety. Developing a mindfulness practice can take many forms – meditating for 2 minutes/day, taking a Qi Gong or Tai Chi class, practicing different breathing exercises, and the list goes on. A couple of our favorite resources are:
- Shell Fischer at Mindful Shenandoah Valley – she has a wonderful podcast where she shares her teachings as well as Mindfulness Meditations recorded for you to access on her website.
- Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program at Duke Integrative Medicine is an introductory 9 week class with wonderful instructors where you will learn all the fundamentals of meditation and mindfulness in a supportive community class environment.
- Holden Qi Gong is a fabulous resource for learning the basics of qi gong in an easy, approachable way. Guaranteed to make you feel amazing each time you do one of his classes!