Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Anxiety, Colds and Flu, Diet, Insomnia, Stress, Tiredness.

Are you in danger of burning out?

 

In a society where the ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality is put on a pedestal, where long hours are the norm, burnout has become an epidemic.

Burnout tends to affect more women than men, probably due to the numerous plates we are supposed to keep up in the air. Our roles as a mother, a wife, a worker, a daughter, a friend etc…. are putting constant demands on us.

But most of us know what it feels to run on empty, whilst not giving ourselves the time to refuel and recover. Add to that the pace of our life, increasingly higher expectations and job insecurity, a big portion of us feels they are constantly under stress. So it’s easy to see how we can end up feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.

 

What is burnout?

Burnout is a mixture of:

Exhaustion:  Feeling emotionally exhausted, depleted, and a loss of energy.

Cynicism:  Having a negative attitude toward clients and those you work with, feeling irritable, and withdrawing from people and activities you once enjoyed.

Inefficacy:  Experiencing diminished personal accomplishment, a perceived decline in competence or productivity, and expending energy at work without seeing any results.

Research discovered that men and women process these burnout dimensions differently.  Women typically experienced exhaustion first, followed by cynicism, then inefficacy. The men, on the other hand, tended to experience cynicism first and then exhaustion.

What are the signs of burnout?

Burnout is always associated with some very physical and emotional symptoms such as

1-    Chronic fatigue, from being tired every day to full on exhaustion where you just can’t face the day ahead.

2-    Insomnia

3-    Lack of focus and concentration

4-    Physical symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal pain, dizziness, fainting or headaches (all of which should be medically assessed).

5-    Increased illness.

6-    No appetite

7-    Anxiety and depression

8-    Anger

 

Burnout in Chinese Medicine.

In Chinese medicine, burnout is what we call a mixed syndrome, one side made of excess (in this case excess stress) and the other of deficiency (tiredness/exhaustion coming from basically doing too much without appropriate rest).

These two sides can feed each other. Stress has an impact on the body, including the digestive system. The more stressed we are, the more impact it has, weakening the digestive system and therefore making us weaker and more tired.

But also, as we are getting more tired, we tend to get stressed more easily, react more quickly. I’m sure most of us have experienced being very short tempered (or feeling low) after a long day (or week!) at work.

I often describe the way the body deals with energy as having two bank accounts. One is a current account that is filling up thanks to a good night of sleep and the appropriate food we are eating. The other is a saving account of energy. As we are going through our day, we are using the energy from our current account. If one day, we are doing too much (aka we need more energy than what is available in our current account), we can go withdraw some energy from our saving account to carry on with our day without too much impact.

If we carry on like this for a while, our saving account is likely to get really low and that’s when we start experiencing so many of the symptoms associated with tiredness/exhaustion, the lack of appetite, anxiety, some type of insomnia, lack of concentration etc…. that are so present when people are burnout.

To be able to feel well again, we need to replenish our saving account. And this happens when we have a little bit of energy leftover at the end of the day in our current account and we can ‘transfer’ it to our saving account at night.

 

“The first step to heal from burnout is Self Care”

The first step to heal from burnout is self care. In this case, self care is to:

-       Learn to handle our energy levels better

-       Balance our stress so it affects us as little as possible.

 

 5 Ways To Heal Burnout

1-    Eat well.

As the saying goes, ‘You are what You eat’. To be able to feel well and recover that energy, we need to put the right sort of fuel in our bodies. This means drinking enough water and eating a balanced diet. It also means avoiding foods that are creating spikes in your blood sugar level. These are what we call ‘sweet foods’ in Chinese medicine and too much sweetness is weakening the digestive system (Remember the digestive system is where we get the energy from our food. A weaken digestive system means we wont be as efficient to get that energy across). Avoiding sweets, biscuits, white pasta and bread etc… will allow you to recover your energy more quickly by strengthening the digestive system.

2-    Sleep well.

Look at how much sleep you are getting. For a week or so, listen to your body and go to bed when you are ready (rather than when the film finishes or when you think it’s’ the ‘right’ time to go to bed). Watch when you are then waking up, if you wake up on your own or because of your alarm, how you are feeling in the morning. It will quickly become clear that you need a certain number of hours to feel well. For some of us, this will be 7 hours, for others it will be 8 or 9.5 hours or maybe 6 hours. Everyone is different. And then make sure you go to bed early enough to get those hours of sleep every night.

3-    Remember the saying ‘you can’t pour water from an empty glass’? Well this is the time to fill your glass again.

First of all, decide what activities are nourishing for you. For some people, it will be meeting up with friends, for others going out in the countryside and for others again, this will be having some quiet time on your own or listening to music. Listen to yourself and see what is making you feel happy and well.

Then commit to do one of those activity at least once in the week. Get some ‘ME time’ focusing on feeling well again.

4-    Learn to say NO.

Sometimes there are so many demands on our time that we can’t possibly do it all. If we don’t want to have to constantly dig into our saving account (or even better if we want to fill it again), we need to make a choice and decide what is and isn’t really essential in light of the amount of energy we actually have (rather than the energy we are ‘supposed to have’). When another mum at school is asking us to bake some cakes for the school fete, can we do it? Do we have enough energy or are we going to dip into our savings? Is it essential or can we actually say ‘I’m sorry but not this time’?

5-    Plan some activities to lower your stress levels.

It is best to spend a little bit of time, 10~15 mins every day doing something that will help you relax. Have a look here at ideas of things you can do.

 

Over To You

What is helping you when you are starting to feel overwhelmed and burnt out? Do you have strategies in place and are they working for you?

 

We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you on your journey to a health . Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Anxiety.

Blog Anxiety 19-04-18

 

If you struggle with anxiety, if it’s getting in the way of your everyday life, stopping you from enjoying the things around you, then you are not alone. Our modern life is full of stresses. From random acts of violence, politics or the impact of the environment on ourselves and our health to the ‘small’ everyday stresses on the road (did you just see that car overtaking!?!) or at work, who wouldn’t be anxious?

It is estimated that about 1 in 6 persons have been affected by an ‘neurotic health problem’ in the previous week and women are twice more likely to be affected than men.

There are many types of anxiety, from the very circumstantial anxiety of doing a talk in front of a big audience to more chronic disorders such as panic attacks or general anxiety disorder (GAD).

By learning how to reset our ways to respond to stress, you can allow to calm the anxiety down.

1 : Recognise what is going on

Very often, anxiety shows itself through very physical symptoms. You might be feeling your heart beating, sometimes very quickly, having a feeling of weight over your chest, getting dizzy or nauseous. You might be struggling to fall asleep at night, have some unsettling dreams or nightmares. Or you might have the urge to just run away to escape the situation. All of those are symptoms of anxiety kicking in, a biological response to a perceived threat, even when there is no immediate or direct threat. Remember these are just feelings, not the reality.

2: First Aid technique

The best way to calm anxiety on the go is to concentrate on your breath. Breathing in and out slowly from your nose will help calming your heart rate and your breathing as well as relax your body and mind.

First breathe in through your nose counting to 4, have a brief pause and then breathe out through your nose counting to 4 again. Whilst breathing out, concentrate on any area of tension (shoulders and the forehead when you are frowning are two areas where we often hold our tension) and visualize the tension melting away.

3: Exercise

This is simple. Exercise is wonderful to reduce stress and therefore anxiety. Any exercise is ok but even more so if you really enjoy it.

4 : Massage P6

P6 is an acupuncture point on the inside of your arm. This is the same point that is used to ease travel sickness so you can either massage the point with a finger for a couple of minutes on each side or use one of those travel sickness band.

To locate the point:

P6 is situated between the two tendons on the inside of your arm, about 3 finger width from the wrist (see picture). To check that you are at the right place, put some pressure on that point. It should feel slightly ‘bruisy’.

 

 PC6 image

 

5: Get some acupuncture

In my clinic, I regularly see people who are or have suffered with anxiety. Acupuncture and ear acupuncture (where you put some very small needles in the ear) are both very efficient at calming anxiety down. But they can also make the body itself stronger so that people are more able to deal with anxiety inducing situations, tackling both the symptoms and the root of the issue.

 

Over to you

What are your tips to calm anxiety? Not every tip will work with everyone and you might have to do a bit of trial and error before finding what is working best for you.

 

We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you tackle anxiety. Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Pregnancy, Stress, Women's Health.

How to increase your fertility

 

When it comes to getting pregnant, no two journeys are the same. Some women get pregnant at the first try whilst others may find than months or years go by before getting the elusive positive pregnancy test. Some women find they are struggling to get pregnant altogether whilst other struggle even though they’ve already have one (or more) child.

Chinese Medicine has a unique way of looking at the body. An analogy to describe how Chinese medicine is approaching fertility is often used and that’s the one of planting flowers in a garden.

When you are planting flower seeds, you need to prepare the garden and the soil so the conditions are the right ones for the seeds to grow. So, you might remove the weeds, turn the soil and add some compost.

Then, in order to get some beautiful flowers, you want to choose the seeds well. It’s likely that the dried out seeds that have been lost at the bottom of the cupboard for several years won’t give you the same results that fresh, good quality, healthy seeds you’ve just bought.

And then once the seeds are planted at the right time in the year, you want to water then, protect them from frost etc… until they have started to germinate and grow.

In Chinese medicine, we are looking at how well the garden is doing. Are there some weeds that needs to remove or do you need to fertilise the soil? That’s our constitutional diagnosis.

We also look at the seeds. Are these healthy seeds or do they need a bit of TLC? That’s when we work on the quality of the eggs or sperm, trying to ensure that they are the best quality possible.

And then you want to control the climate. Check there is enough water but not too much and so on. That’s when we balance the internal temperature, check there is enough nutrients going to the uterus etc….

There are some simple things you can do at home to ensure that the environment (the soil, the climate and the seeds) will be the best ones to allow the seed to grow into a beautiful flower.

 

-          Have sex regularly, especially during your fertile window

Ovulation usually occurs around day 14 but if your cycle is longer or shorter, ovulation will happen later or sooner. The best time to have sex is the day before or on the day of ovulation so tracking when you are ovulating can be helpful. You can use an app to track your cycle, use ovulation sticks or follow your temperature chart (BBT chart) to give you a better idea of when you are ovulating.

 

-          Look at your diet

Having the right diet will make a big difference. It will help ensuring the soil is top quality for the seeds to germinate. Some foods are known to be causing problems. Coffee, alcohol, sugar and RAW and/or COLD foods are better to be avoided or eradicated. A balanced diet with vegetables, proteins, carbohydrates and fats will promote the right environment.

Some supplements can be helpful too. Vitamin D or CoQ10 are involved in the development of the egg and hormones. Seeing a nutritionist or functional therapist is the best way to find out which supplements will be beneficial for you.

 

-          Lifestyle hacks

Smoking, alcohol and stress all have a negative impact on fertility.

Smoking has been shown to delay conception and to reduce live birth rates in IVF cycles. It damages the egg and the sperm.

Stress is associated with a lower number of follicles and poorer outcome in IVF cycles. This is why it is so important to have some inbuilt system in place in your week where you will be able to de-stress. 15 mins a day spent doing something you really enjoy can make a big difference. You can look at this post for more ideas.

 

-          Have some acupuncture

Acupuncture can help you relax and reduce your stress levels as well as ensuring the environment is the best for the egg/embryo to develop.

 

Over to You

If you would like to optimise your chances of getting pregnant or if you have bee trying for a while, and wonder how acupuncture could help you, just give me a call on 01642 694063 for a free 15 mins consultation and I’ll be happy to answer your specific questions.

 

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Pain, Women's Health.

Vulvodynia, a different type of pain

 

I was attending a workshop last weekend to deepen my knowledge on treating (women’s) pelvic and sexual pain with acupuncture. An astonishing 15% of women will be affected by vulvodynia (pain the vulva area) in their life time as well as 27% of women report pain during intercourse! The effect of pelvic pain and sexual pain can be far ranging, from relationship issues to anxiety, losing days at work and simply the loss of quality of life.

Pain in the vulva area, around the perineum and/or during sex might due to numerous conditions. From trauma (eg after giving birth or surgery) to infections, hormones imbalances etc…, the reasons are varied and need to be addressed in a different way.

But often women are embarrassed about where the pain is as well as what sort discomfort it brings which delays asking for support and going to see their GP. Getting a diagnosis can also take a long time.

 

What can you do to help ease the pain?

The approach will be multi-modal to address the constellation of symptoms. This can include

  • Gentle self-care of the vulva area
  • Medication
  • Manual therapy such as (especially tailored) physiotherapy or acupuncture
  • Sexual counselling
  • Surgery

 

What can you do at home?

Because the symptoms can be varied, it’s important to remember that not all ‘advice’ will be working for you. Things you can try to help alleviate your symptoms are

  • Avoiding rubbing the sensitive area and only ‘patting the area dry’
  • Wearing cotton underwear
  • Avoiding irritants, including scented products (pads, toilet paper, soap etc..), soaps and bubble baths, some type of condom (latex, lubricated condoms…), some lubricants
  • Using heat onto the area
  • Or putting a cool compress onto the area (a moistened chamomile tea bag can be great)
  • Having a nice bath with Epson Salt or oatmeal
  • Use relaxation techniques (such as mindfulness, yoga or Tai Chi)
  • Stop smoking

 

How can acupuncture help with pelvic and sexual pain?

First of all, I want you to know that I know this pain is real. It affects your everyday life because the slightest touch can trigger the pain. It hurts when you have sex, it hurts when you sit down or when you exercise. The pain is real, it’s chronic and often leads to feelings of anxiety as well as frustration.

In Chinese Medicine, pain is a symptom of the Energy not flowing properly. Acupuncture helps to free the flow of Energy and Blood as well as addressing the underlying imbalances disrupting your body’s self-healing abilities.

It can also help reduce the anxiety and stress felt by most sufferers (with very good reasons!).

Some studies have shown that acupuncture helps lessen the pelvic and sexual pain [1][2]. Usually, with such complex issues, I always approach the problem from different angles, using body acupuncture but also adding ear acupuncture and ear seeds, diet advice and relaxation techniques. This means that we can work both of the symptoms and on the root of the issue. It also means you will have some ‘homework’ (self care) to do at home to help bridge the gap in between two treatments and get the best results possible.

 

Over to you, are you struggling with pelvic or sexual pain? 

We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you dealing pain like this. Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.

 

 

[1] Lee E Hullender Rubin et al., Acupuncture Augmentation Of Lidocaine Treatment For Provoked Localized Vulvodynia – A Feasibility And Acceptability Pilot Study, Journal of Lower Genital Tract Diseases. 2017; 21(4S):S2-S3.
[2] Schlaeger JM et al., Acupuncture for the treatment of vulvodynia: A randomized wait‐list controlled pilot study., J Sex Med 2015;12:1019–1027.

 

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Diet, Digestion, Prevention, Tiredness.

A morning cup of coffee

 

A recent research paper [1] reminded me of the importance of eating at the right time in the day. It turns out that research is showing that individuals who are eating most their calorie intake later on in the day are more likely to be more overweight than someone who eats more at the start of the day.

Often, I see at the clinic people who skip breakfast, have a quick lunch at their desk and only have a ‘proper meal’ in the evening when they are back at home. It seems to be a quite common pattern for a lot of people. But Chinese Medicine reminds us of the importance of the timing of our meal on our overall health.

 

Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper

 

Interestingly we find that old saying in many countries, from the UK to China in one form or another. It emphasises the fact that our bodies function in a cycle and that respecting these patterns helps the body run more efficiently. So here are a few tips to make the most of this rhythm.

 

1-      Have a nutritious breakfast.

In Chinese Medicine, the digestive system is the strongest between 7.00 am and 9.00 am. This makes it the ideal time to have a nutritious meal and set you up for the whole day. A 2004 study [2] showed that food eaten in the morning is also more satisfying so even more reasons to experiment around what to eat for breakfast.

 

2-      Plan to have a nice lunch

Even when you are at work. If you want to avoid the ‘I’ll just grab a sandwich at the work canteen’ syndrome, this is probably will need the most preparation beforehand. I find that having some frozen left over, in single portions, great for that. Otherwise, planning ahead what you will have for lunch allows you to have what you need in the house and maybe do a bit of preparation the night before.

 

3-      Your evening meal should be the lightest of the day.

To be fair, that’s not what we normally do in the UK. But as the body gets ready for a good night sleep, it’s also the time when our digestion slows down (It’s the Yin, calming and restful time of the day). The food ends up being poorly digested leading to all sort of issues, including the weight gain mentioned in the research articles but also issues with bad sleep and feeling full in the morning (That’s probably why so many of us aren’t feeling hungry in the morning to)

 

4-      Leave at least 3 hours between your last meal and going to bed.

For the same reasons mentioned above, this will leave enough time for the body to really start digesting your last meal, reducing all the negative effects of eating too much too late.

 

Over to you

What are your thoughts on meal timing and how would you feel about trying some of these tips?

 

We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you on your journey to a health . Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.

 

[1] J. B. Wang et Al (2017)  'Timing of energy intake during the day is associated with the risk of obesity in adults' Am Journal of Clinical Nutrition
[2] de Castro JM (2004) 'The time of the day of food intake influences overall intake in humans' Journal of Nutrition vol 134(1)

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Colds and Flu, Prevention, Tiredness.

Blog Warm and Healthy

 

The latest bout of snow has reminded me that we are fully into the seasonal phase that the Chinese call the Major Cold. Its name comes from the fact that this last part of the year, just before the Chinese New Year, is often the coldest part of the year. Consequently, many people are arriving at the clinic suffering from coughs and colds to sinus infections. So what can we do the look after ourselves during that time of the year?

 

1-      Looking after our digestive system.

This is essentially about eating easily digested foods so we can build up our energy and be ready for the Spring.

Easily digested foods are nice warm, cooked foods such as soups or stews.  Rice, soups such as chicken soup, cooked vegetables are all beneficial, especially when they are teamed with warning spices such as fresh ginger or nutmeg.

In addition, you might want to avoid cold and raw food as well as foods that are overly sweet or greasy (eg greasy meats or sweet deserts/cakes).

Adequate hydration is also important so sipping a nice, warm herbal tea throughout the day will also be beneficial. Ginger tea is a good choice to stimulate digestion.

 

2-      Bone broth

Bone broth has been used in Europe and in China for generations to keep people healthy. I am always trying to make a big pot of bone broth in the week, drinking a cup in the morning with my breakfast.

Here is how to make your own bone broth

 

3-      Soaking your feet

Soaking your feet in warm water was once a daily habit for many people in China and as a TCM practitioner, this is something I would also recommend as it is surprisingly effective. One recipe for a foot soak, especially good for those of us who tend to have cold extremities in winter, is:

About 50g of ginger, sliced

Half a cup of Epson Salt

Boil the ginger in water for a few minutes.

Take a basin big enough to put both feet in and high enough that you can cover your feet with water, up to your ankles.

Put the boiled water in the basin and add enough water so your feet will be covered. The water should be around 40oC (Please check the temperature before putting your feet in. You don’t want to burn yourself but nor do you want the water to be too cold). Add the Epson Salt.

Soak your feet for about 20mins, adding some boiled water if the water in the basin gets too cold.

It is best to do the soak just before going to bed as it will help you stay warm and get a good night rest.

 

4-     Socks and scarves

It sounds quite obvious but protecting yourself with warm clothes when you go out, including covering your neck (with a scarf for example) is essential. This is also about keeping yourself warm at home by wearing slippers in the house (so your feet don’t get cold) or using bed socks in bed if you tend to be easily cold or have cold feet.

This will help you protect yourself from the cold around you as well as from all these colds and coughs.

It is worth noting that science has found a possible explanation as to why getting cold could lead to getting a cold. It’s all down to the fact that our immune system isn’t as strong when we are cold!

 

Over to you

What are you doing to keep you warm and healthy during the winter? Do you tend to get ill or tired quite easily or do you waltz through it all?

 

Sometimes, self-care isn’t enough and you might find that you need a bit more support. If you find that during the winter you don’t seem to shake those coughs and colds or you are getting particularly tired, come and see us. Simply give us a call on 01642794063 and we will help you put those under control.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Prevention, Stress, Women's Health.

New Year New You

New Year, New You.

 

How often have we decided at the start of the year that we will get healthier this year? Probably many, many times and just as often, we have also ‘failed’ to keep up with our new year’s resolutions to lose weight and go to the gym 5 times a week….

So, this year, where should you begin?

 

First of all, I think it’s worth remembering the Chinese idea of ‘Nourishing Health’ rather than starting to start doing something because that’s what you ought to do (as per the numerous articles appearing at this time of the year). Part of that routine should be to look after our own body so that it works well, keeps us well and makes us feel great. After all, we only have one body!

Below are 3 simple steps to  help you create positive habits that will make a real difference.

1- Fix your sleeping hygiene

It seems a simple problem to fix. Get more sleep.

But actually we are easily getting distracted by the latest film, the Social Media we are on (and its endless browsing of websites we had never heard about!) or the latest game on our phone. And then we often struggle to fall asleep.

This is why a good routine helps. That routine should include

  • Being asleep before 12.00am to get a good restorative sleep.
  • Getting enough sleep. We need 7 hours minimum but some people will need more. If you are feeling tired during the day, long for a nap or feel like falling asleep as soon as you get back home, then maybe you need more sleep than what you are getting.
  • Keep the room cool enough so you don’t overheat during the night.
  • Avoid blue lights (that’s your tablet, phone and any other electronic gadget) at least half an hour before going to bed.
  • Go to bed at about the same time every night.

 

2- Look at your diet.

 

There is plenty of advice out there about nutrition and what we should eat. Some of it is quite complicated, involves removing some food from your diet and eating things that you’ve never heard about. Whilst some of that advice is very sound, I have found with my patients that two things really make a huge difference.

  • One is to eat plenty of vegetables. Try and aim to have your plate half filled with vegetables, the more varied the colours are, the better.
  • The second is to drastically reduce sugar. Sugar is a hard one because it’s everywhere as soon as you start buying food that is produced in a factory. Sugar is added to tomato sauce, salad dressing and take away meals as well as, of course, biscuits, sweets etc…. but being mindful of that and planning some snacks during the day that aren’t filled with sugar will already make a huge difference.

 

3- Take some time off for yourself.

 

Once in the day if possible, book some time with yourself and do something that you enjoy and makes you happy. This will help reduce your stress as well as help you noticing all the good things that are happening every day. Have a look at this previous post to get some ideas of what you could do.

 

Finally, some of my patients are finding that getting some regular top ups is another way to ‘Nourish their Health’. They come for a tune up every 6 or 8 weeks, a bit like you would take your car to the garage for a service. When someone is suffering from a chronic issue (such as recurring headaches or digestive issues), this helps keeping the symptoms at bay. And when you don’t have any chronic issues, it helps keeping your body in tip top condition so that you don’t get ill in the future.

 

Over to you

Is there anything that helps you keep well and healthy throughout the year? What’s working well for you? What are you going to do differently this year?

 

We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you on your journey to a health . Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Stress.

8 ways to beat stress

 

Stress is the cause of most illnesses according the latest research. [1] Chronic stress has a significant effect on the immune system, increases risk of diabetes, can lead to peptic ulcers or ulcerative colitis and the correlation between high level of stress and mental health is quite well known too.

In my practice, I have found that stress and its effect on the body has a big part to play on how well people are feeling. From digestive disorders to fertility, from pain (such as back or knee pain) to insomnia, symptoms are often made worse by stress.

It is also clear that the question ‘so what do you do to relax?’ is taking some people by surprise. It is rarely an activity that we consciously seek out, nor do we see it as an essential thing to do but more as an indulgence that can happen when all the important things have been done (which often means not that often!)

Seeing the effect of stress on the body as well as its effect on our general wellbeing, it really makes sense to take particular attention on taking some time off at the end of the day to finally relax and destress.

 

Here are 8 quick ways to relax at the end of the day

 

- Do a quick 10~15 mins meditation.

That’s probably the one a lot of acupuncturists will favour because it does have profound effects, even modifying our brain after a few weeks of practice. There are some great apps around now. Headspace and Insight Timer are the two apps I prefer.

- Pick up a physical activity.

It doesn’t have to be something complex, a simple walk around the block will work just as well as going to the gym. But moving your body is a great way to make that energy move in your body and reduce your stress. Remember how energised you can feel after a nice workout? That’s the effect of destressing.

- Laugh

Whatever makes you laugh. It can be a special type of comedy, a cute YouTube video of kittens, spending time with some friends. Just spending some time every day laughing will lift your mood up.

- Practice some yoga.

This one is a favourite of mine because it mixes the physical side (moving the body and stretching) to the more meditative side (by concentrating on your movements and on your breathing). See whatever works best for you, a class, a video or just doing the movements that you know work best for you.

- Sing you heart out.

Singing has been found to reduce the level of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body). It is excellent for calming anxiety down both due to the concentration needed (which helps you relax the mind) and the deeper breathing (what we call abdominal breathing) involved. And if you feel self-conscious about it, try singing in the shower or when you are alone.

- Take a bath.

Make that time a nice relaxing time, add some Epson salt (which are great at relieving stress) as well as some essential oils such as lavender. Maybe add some candles if you feel like it and/or some nice music in the background.

- Be grateful.

Everyday think about how the day went and make a mental note (or even better write it down!) of you can be grateful for. It can be things such a remembering the person who left you pass at the junction to thanking the opportunity to meet up with friends or for the meal in front of you. This will help you shit your focus from all the negative thoughts to all the positive and beautiful things happening around you.

- If you still feel that nothing is quite working for you,

Have a look at this list of 50 things you can do to relax for some more inspiration.

50 ways - stress

(Many thanks to Action for Happiness for this fantastic diagram. You can find more information about what they do at www.actionforhappiness.org)

What about you?

Do you have a special time planned in your day to relax? Are you finding that those methods are enough to help you deal with everyday stresses?

Sometimes, self-care isn’t enough and you might find that you need a bit more support. If you find that your symptoms flare up with stress and whatever you do isn’t quite working, come and see us. Simply give us a call on 01642794063 and we will help you put those under control.

 

[1] Life event, stress and illness. Malays J Med Sci. 2008 Oct; 15(4): 9–18.

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Pregnancy, Women's Health.

Acupuncture IVF

 

This is a story that I see regularly in my clinic. A woman comes to see me because she wants to get pregnant. She usually has been trying for several years, often has one or two failed IVF already. And she is desperate.

Desperate to finally get pregnant, desperate to see that last attempt work, to finally see her dream becoming a reality. And often she is heartbroken by the multiple failures. The periods that arrived every month. Again. The IVF cycle that didn’t work.

Most of the time, I am the last resort person. The one last thing that women try because they have nothing to lose and they are willing to try anything. And you know, it might help a little bit.

But does it work? Does acupuncture make any difference at all in the outcome of an IVF?

In my experience, yes it does and research is there to back it up too.

 

1. Acupuncture makes a difference to the number of live birth after IVF

 

A number of studies have shown that acupuncture is improving outcome among women undergoing IVF [1]. The latest study is reporting that acupuncture can increase the success rate of an IVF cycle by up to 60%!

Another study is showing that receiving acupuncture around embryo transfer improves rates of live birth [2].

 

2. Acupuncture before the IVF helps regulating hormones, improves the oxygenation towards the uterus as well as the quality of the eggs.

 

For an IVF to be successful, its often worth spending the time to prepare the body before. It takes about 3 months for the follicle to grow into a mature egg. That’s 3 months when it’s possible to have any influence on the egg by ensuring the environment is the best possible during its development. 3 months to ensure that the lining of the uterus is just what it needs to be.

The aim is to boost fertility by improving the blood flow around the uterus and the ovaries, regulating hormones and the overall cycle and reducing inflammation, all of which has an influence on fertility.

And this has also been confirmed by research. For example, Doppler imaging has shown that acupuncture can affect the flow of blood in the body [3].

 

3. Acupuncture helps calming down the stress and the anxiety.

 

This, in itself, may or may not help the outcome but it certainly is making the whole process much easier. IVF is a very stressful treatment emotionally.

Because of the drugs and the effect of the hormones on the body but also because of the constant uncertainty. How is the cycle going, are the follicles developing? Are there enough follicles to go ahead with the collection? How good are the eggs, have they fertilised? How many have fertilised? How good are the embryos? Etc..

Each step of the IVF process opens up new questions, new uncertainties and new worries. Being able to get support and being heard during those times is essential.

 

Over to you, are you struggling with fertility issues?

We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you on your journey to a healthy pregnancy. Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.

 

 

 

 

[1] Therapeutic effect of acupuncture on the outcomes of in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Gynecol Obstet 2017 March
[2] Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and life birth amongst women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: a systemic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2008 March
[3] Evaluation of the Effects of Acupuncture on Blood Flow in Humans with Ultrasound Color Doppler Imaging Evid Based Complement Aternt Med. 2012, 2012:513638

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Women's Health.

Painful periods

 

Period pain or period cramps, also known as dysmenorrhea, is actually a common condition. Over half of women experience painful periods. Some women will have a diagnosis, for example of endometriosis. But most of the time, there is no ‘reason’ for the pain and a lot of women just consider the pain as inevitable.

Often, when I ask women about their periods and if they experience cramps and/or pain, the answer is often along the lines of ‘Yes I do have some cramps, like any other woman. Pretty normal, isn’t it?’ And just as often, these women aren’t coming to see me to help alleviate the discomfort but for another unrelated reason because they are totally unaware that this is something that can be helped.

Well, according the Chinese Medicine, painful, crampy periods are not ‘normal’. The pain that some women experience is the sign of some imbalances that can be corrected.
This has recently been confirmed by a study from the Western Sydney University. The results from this study have shown that acupuncture leads to significant reduction in the intensity and the frequency of menstrual pain after 3 months of treatment.

 

So, what can someone do to help alleviate the pain?

Stress is often making that sort of pain much worse.

So, the first step is to include some stress reducing techniques in your life. You can try to get some exercise, have a nice relaxing bath (with some Epson salt and some essential oils such as lavender), gentle exercise, reading, singing etc etc

Keep your abdomen warm.

The first thing is to ensure that your abdomen (and lower back) is always covered and kept nicely warm. During your periods, using a wheat bag to keep the area warm can be very helpful too. But another less know way is to ensure that your feet are warm too. So use some socks in bed, don’t walk bare foot on a cold floor but use sleepers instead!

Get a balance diet

Ensure that you have a balance diet with some warming foods such as dry ginger, cinnamon or turmeric. Some foods high in omega 3, such as oily fish (mackerel, sardines …) or nuts and seeds can be very helpful too thanks to the anti-inflammatory nature of omega 3s.

Get some acupuncture

In particular, in the week just before your period and during your period. Acupuncture will help the Blood circulate more freely thus reducing the amount of pain.

How about you?

What is working for you when you get these crampy, colic spasms? Do you get other symptoms as well, such pain radiating down your thighs, lower back pain, diarrhoea or even nausea and vomiting?

Are you silently struggling with painful with periods?

If you have noticed that painful periods are part of your life and standard treatments aren’t quite working for you, contact me to see if I can help you.