Have you been struggling with fatigue during Shelter-in-Place (or even longer)?
You are not alone! Many people I’ve spoken with are straining to find the energy and motivation to do basic tasks.
How can Chinese medicine help your energy level?
Chinese medicine looks at energy as a function of your breathing, digestion, and sleep. Breathing allows you to take in the clear or heavenly qi (qing) of the air. When you eat and digest, your body is extracting the nutrients from food qi (gu qi). As you sleep, your body stores any extra qi you produced that day for later.
If you’re running at an energy deficit, however, you may be pulling on your reserves to make it through the day and have nothing leftover to store at night.
When this happens, you may feel tired, listless, anxious, have a low or moody appetite, or having trouble sleeping. Does that sound like anybody you know in 2020?
Nutrition in Chinese medicine
One of the aspects of nutrition in Chinese medicine that differs from Western nutrition is its concern with how you eat in addition to the quality of what you are eating.
What does that mean?
Simply that you’ll get more nutrition from your food better if you’re relaxed, eating slowly, and with people you enjoy while you’re eating. Working with a sandwich in your hand or scarfing down a burrito in your car while you drive may negatively impact your digestion and your energy level.
In addition to taking time for relaxed eating, having meals at regular times can help your body get the most of out of your food. Preparing seasonally appropriate dishes, with longer cooking times and more warming spices in the cooler months, can also help your energy. For more details on this, please read my blog on seasonal cooking.
The breath in Chinese medicine
If you live in an area that was smothered in wildfire smoke this summer, you know how important air quality is to your health and your mood!
How you breathe is also important to your energy level and health.
Breathwork is a critical component of Chinese medicine. Tai qi, qi gong, and meditation all place emphasis on the breath as a way of cultivating your qi and improving your energy levels.
When you’re upset, someone invariably says, “take a deep breath.” Slowing down your respiration rate and breathing into your belly helps your nervous system shift out of fight or flight mode, slowing the pumping adrenaline and helping you relax. This shift allows your body to focus more on extracting nutrition from your food and allows you to get better quality sleep.
Interested in learning more about using the breath to repattern your nervous system and movement through the world? Join Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization specialist, Lily Baker-Lubin, and I for a workshop on using acupressure and breathing techniques to expand your ribcage, relax your diaphragm, and get more out of each breath. Sign-up today!