This is the time of the year for deciding on ways we can improve our lives, usually through “new year’s resolutions”. Typically, our new years resolutions revolve around the idea of “living well”, whether it be to stop smoking, loose weight, become more active or just be nicer to others. But “living well” does not happen over night. As they say; “It’s not a destination”. It doesn’t happen after preparing and eating one meal, or working out at the gym that first time.
The “living well” goal is a goal set on the distant horizon. It’s a voyage. It happens one day at a time, step by step. Anyone can live a life of wellness. Achieving wellness is when a person constantly strives for a better level of functioning in their physical, emotional and spiritual life as well as other aspects of their lives such as business, family and relationships. It’s always the right time to take steps toward wellness. We need not wait till the new year to make a resolution to live better, nor should we wait until next week, the first of the month or even next year. And remember, not having any symptoms of disease at the moment doesn’t mean we are well.
I’d like to tell you about a friend of mine, Patty. She’s 50, no major illnesses and eats pretty good and gets about 6 hours of sleep a night. When you ask her if she considers herself healthy, she’ll tell you yes. On the surface, everything seemed fine. She even told me so. She originally came into the office because a friend referred her to us to try acupuncture only for it’s relaxing effect. But what she will hesitate to tell you is that she’s been taking sleeping pills to get those 6 hours of sleep, wakes up too early and always anxious, never eats breakfast and lives with muscle aches and pains constantly. Even though she seems very happy on the surface, she’ll admit that she doesn’t feel happy at all and lives with constant worry about her job, her family and her financial future.
Living without a full blown major disease is not wellness. Wellness is about feeling pain free, feeling happiness and moving forward to achieving all of your desires. With a little fine tuning, Patty can once again begin moving forward in wellness.
My advice to Patty was to start a program of routine acupuncture care to reduce stress on her system. I told her that the acupuncture and medicinal herbs will enable her to get a full 8 hours of restful sleep, reduce anxiety and minimize her aches and pains in her muscles. Sleep is the body’s time to restore and rejuvenate. Even loosing a few hours sleep every night can negatively affect one’s health.
According to a University of Pennsylvania study, sleeping less than 6 hours a night is associated with increases risk of heart disease and diabetes. Other studies links lack of sleep to weight gain and even increased rates of cancer. Advice as simple as sleeping on your back instead of your stomach has been known to make big differences in alleviating aches and pains in the neck and shoulders.
Remember I mentioned that Patty rarely ate breakfast? That’s an issue. Getting quality food in the morning is important to kick start the metabolism and provide energy for the day. Patty’s habit of skipping breakfast for a few cups of coffee may be added to her feeling of anxiety and worry. So now, with a little effort, Patty is getting into the habit of eating breakfast. I also recommended that Patty get acupuncture 3 times and also take the herbal formula "You Gui San" (Extreme Fatigue Tea) from our Turtle Creek Apothecary line up.
With these small changes as well as her few sessions of acupuncture, Patty is well on the road to wellness. After a few treatments of acupuncture and a few weeks of our Extreme Fatigue Tea, she’s saying that she sleeps through the night without being bothered by constant worry or anxiety. Her body feels much better and is much more hopeful of the future. Wandering off the road to wellness is ok once in a while. There is no such thing as failure. We all fall into unhealthy habits on occasion. Changing long held patterns, habits and personal beliefs can draw us out of our comfort zone.
Like Patty, you can also choose the path of wellness. Make a list of those things in your life that need to be changed (it may be a long list). Once you have your list, you are welcome to visit us for a complete wellness exam and consultation. Quite often, an acupuncturist will be able to spot problem areas you may not even have thought about being a problem. It’s never too late to take your life back and live more “well”.