Putting My Oxygen Mask on First

Supporting your immune system

During these crazy times, I wanted to remind you of key things you can be doing right now to support your immune system besides of course HANDWASHING and SOCIAL DISTANCING.

  1. Get plenty of sleep – ideally 8-10 hours/night. If you are having problems sleeping, sign up for the FREE Get Some Shut Eye webinar on 4/15. You can also check out my Sleep Tip playlists on my FB page (Sleep Soundly in September, Sleep Tips November 2017 and Sleep Tips) and the sleep tips shared by my network on this blog Sleep Edition – NS Acu Tribe of Mentors.
  2. Stay hydrated.
  3. Limit dampening foods. Reduce your intake of sugar, dairy, gluten, fried foods and alcohol as they add dampness to the body, and this virus appears to be a damp pathogen.
  4. Breath through your nose! We are meant to breath through our noses. Air is “filtered” when we breath through our nose – cilia and mucus catch viruses (along with pollen, bacteria and other debris). In addition, nitric oxide is produced in the paranasal sinuses and is antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. Any virus that makes it through the nasal “filtering” system, will pass through the nasal cavity where the antiviral nitric oxide is excreted.
  5. Do things that bring you pleasure. Watch the latest stand up specials on Netflix, draw winter botanicals you can find in your yard, listen to Weightless (a song designed by sound therapists to reduce stress), read something for fun, play your guitar or piano or didgeridoo, journal, dance, and/or give yourself the Big O.  (It’s not the time to be the master of your domain). When we feel pleasure, puffs of nitric oxide are released from our blood vessels and boosts immunity (along with increasing blood flow, decreasing cellular inflammation, and improving your mood and outlook on life.)
  6. Manage your stress through meditation and/or breath work. Practice 4-7-8 breath throughout the day.
  7. Limit your consumption of updates/news about the covid-19. Watching updates 24/7 and consuming all of the misinformation and exaggerations being shared on social media increases your stress levels which impact your immune system. Set aside a specific time each day to get your updates. Limit your sources to the CDC, WHO, your local health department (Chicago, Cook County, Deerfield, Glenview, Evanston, Morton Grove, Northbrook, Skokie, Wilmette, Winnetka), or your state health department.
  8. Limit the amount of time you spend worrying about the virus. Set aside specific time each day to focus on planning and executing any actions you need to take to keep your family safe and any actions related to your career/business. Stay focused during that time of planning and execution. However, when thoughts come up outside of that time, remind yourself that you have a plan, you’ve taken the actions within your control for today, and bring yourself back to the present by engaging your senses – what do you see, smell, hear, feel. The worries are likely to come up multiple times – just keeping repeating these steps.
  9. Start a gratitude practice. It can be as simple as taking a few minutes every day to write down things for which you are grateful. Or you can use an app – gthx is offering a 30 day free trial of their gratitude app. The code is 30daysfree. Here are some other ideas of how to focus on gratitude.
  10. Help others. Donate blood. Donate to local food pantries. Check in with at-risk neighbors to see if they  need help picking up prescription refills or critical groceries. Buy a gift certificate from or post a review for your favorite small businesses. Don’t hoard supplies. If an item you need to purchase has a WIC symbol near the price, get something else. A person who uses WIC can’t switch to another brand.
  11. Move. Dance. Start a yoga, tai chi or qi gong practice. Go for a walk. Try the toilet roll workout.  Sample some of the streaming classes from Hip Circle Empowerment Center. Do one of the at-home workouts posted daily by Crossfit Impact.
  12. Do acupressure daily on ST36. You can locate the point by sliding your finger on the outside of your shin towards your knee. It will stop around ST36. Or identify a tender spot near your shin about the width of your four fingers from the bottom of your knee.

If you have any questions, please call me at 815.814.1319 or email me at amy@northshoreacupuncturecenter.com.

Putting My Oxygen Mask On First – Children & Your Health

As many of you know, my kids turned 18 a few months ago. I remember a time when I desperately needed a break from being around young children for my health. But as my kids have gotten older, my interactions with young children are less frequent. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve spent more time with young kids and it reminded me of how important that is for my health.

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Putting My Oxygen Mask on First – Farmers’ Market

Now, that we have finally had a few nice days, it’s time to enjoy one of the best things about summer – the Farmers’ Market.

  1. FRESH – Remember when your food had a scent and was flavorful and colorful? Food from the farmers’ market will remind you of the food from your childhood. Most food at the farmers’ market was ripened in the field and brought directly to you. As a result, it tastes better and is more nutritious. It also looks and smells more appealing.
  2. EAT WITH THE SEASONS – In Chinese medicine, we believe it is important to live in synch with the seasons which includes eating for the seasons. If you eat food that grows locally in season, you are eating foods that keep you in harmony with your environment and supports your health. Selecting food at the farmers’ market will also give you access to a greater variety of colors and flavors than at the grocery store – today at the farmers’ market, I saw purple cauliflower and three different types of cherries grown locally.
  3. ENVIRONMENT – Purchasing your food at the farmers’ market is better for the environment. Our food travels an average of over 1,000 miles to get to us. Have you noticed that even cucumbers and peppers are wrapped in plastic at the grocery store? Purchasing locally cuts down on fuel usage and packaging.
  4. SMALL FARMERS – Support local farmers by purchasing food directly from them. It is difficult for small farmers to compete with the factory farms. Selling their produce locally helps them get a better return on their produce.

Putting My Oxygen Mask on First – Life is in the Ordinary

“I get so busy sometimes chasing the extraordinary moments that I don’t pay attention to the ordinary moments – the moments that if taken away I would miss more than anything.” Brené Brown in her Netflix special “The Call to Courage”.

When I was watching Brené Brown’s Netflix special this weekend, this statement stopped me in my tracks and I had to listen to it a few more times. I’ve had some beautiful extraordinary moments recently – and they get addicting. This was a wake up call to remember to be present with the beautiful ordinary moments as well – because that is what makes up our lives and what we miss the most when it changes.

Nate and Zoe turn 18 on Wednesday and will be moving forward with their lives (away from home) this fall. Since I know some of the ordinary moments will be ending for me, I can focus on being present and fully experiencing them as they happen. The moments like walking to CVS to feed Zoe’s chocolate fix, listening to Nate and Zoe argue about something that they are actually in agreement on but just aren’t listening closely enough to catch it, driving them to Howard Auto to pick up the Buick after yet another repair, Nate excitedly sharing what he learned from a podcast, another rainy softball game.

It reminds me of the question Muneeb Ali asks himself “When I’m old, how much would I be willing to pay to travel back in time and relive the moment that I’m experiencing right now?” That question always reminds me of the value of the little things.

 

Putting My Oxygen Mask on First – Snow in April, Suffering is Optional

After some gorgeous sunny days with birds and butterflies, I had settled into spring. I struggled with the wind and hail on Wednesday and now SNOW accumulation today. This weather is a teacher – and since global warming is real and I live in Chicago – it is time for me to pull up a chair and learn my lesson. I continue to struggle with causing myself suffering by resisting what is – when my resistance is futile.

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Putting My Oxygen Mask on First – Don’t Should Yourself

After some conversations with clients, I noticed that usually when we use the word “should” it’s not very empowering. “I should” or “you should” seems to be negative. We are typically using it to berate or shame ourselves (or someone else) for not living up to a standard – it implies we are not OK as we are. Or we are using it to limit ourselves or others – it seems to imply there is just one right way or right answer. As a parent, I want to start questioning my motives anytime I say something to my kids that starts with “You should” – what is my intention? Am I imposing my own limiting beliefs on them? Am I trying to shame them? Am I trying to get them to be something I want them to be instead of the wonderful beings they are?

Last week when I was hiking in Indiana, I felt a strong need for grounding. It was warm out, so I took off my hiking boots. It felt so good that I wanted to hike barefoot – and immediately I thought “I shouldn’t”.  But when I questioned that assumption, I realized my only reason was because that’s not what people do – everyone else was wearing boots or shoes and I didn’t want to get muddy/dirty. So I hiked barefoot through the paths – mud and all, and it was glorious. Yes, my feet and socks got muddy, but guess what? The mud washed off! I had to go through the same mental exercise when I wanted to lay down on the ground without a blanket.

One of my clients shared that she would always feel badly after the weekend because there was a list of things she “should” have done. Instead of beating herself up for not getting her “shoulds” done over the weekends, she created a new framework for herself. She had goals about being more creative, active and fun – so she set goals to do one creative thing, one physical activity and something fun. She focuses on accomplishing that goal instead of a lot of “shoulds” and reports she is much happier.

The next time you hear the word “should” come out of your mouth, take a minute to reflect. Are you about to limit or shame yourself or others?  If so, it’s a great opportunity to treat yourself with more compassion or to examine your limiting beliefs.

Putting My Oxygen Mask on First – Rituals

I’ve been obsessed with rituals lately. I view them as rituals vs routines because of the intent I associate with them. To me, routines are habits we perform mindlessly. Routines can be tedious. Rituals are performed with awareness and meaning. Consistent rituals provide rhythm to our daily life and give us stability when things get rough. They anchor us to our true selves.

Morning rituals

My obsession started with my morning ritual. I want to start my day intentionally, in a way that supports my goals. Previously I had been grabbing my phone to check Facebook when I first woke up, which meant that more often than not, my day was hijacked by whatever inanity Trump had tweeted overnight. To take back my mornings, I instituted my morning ritual – thinking of 2-3 things for which I’m grateful, meditating, reading for 5 minutes, drinking a glass of water with apple cider vinegar, making my bed, and practicing Lisa Nichols’ mirror exercise(see minutes 2:45). I’ve modified it over time – I’m no longer doing Lisa’s mirror exercise or making my bed, but I’ve added morning pages. It sets the tone for my day, clears my mind, and keeps me focused on my priorities.

Family rituals

We have family rituals for how we connect and celebrate together…like the first person to see a spring flower winning a “cake”, beignets and burpees on the beach birthday bash, making homemade pasta and pesto on Christmas Eve, volunteering at the Misericordia bakery during the holiday season, winter jigsaw puzzles, summer morning sunrise adventures in pajamas, singing Sana, Sana Colita de Rana song when sick and when schedules allow, electronic free family dinners.

Other rituals

I’ve also established rituals in other areas of my life. I have a ritual for starting my day at work – I meditate, pray and review the intentions I’ve written for the type of experience I’d like every client to have. I have a ritual for therapy as well – starting therapy with a cup of tea, ending it with a meditation, going for a walk in the woods to integrate, process and crystallize, and then journaling about anything that came up during therapy and/or my walk. I also have made it a regular practice to go for a walk in the forest daily – I vary my route but always check in at the bridge and with one specific, special tree – which allows me to closely observe the changes in season. These rituals help me live more mindfully.

Bedtime rituals

Fortunately for me, I have an easy time falling asleep, so my bedtime ritual is pretty simple. I turn off electronics, tell the kids goodnight (occasionally beg them to tuck me in), read for a little while, and think about 2-3 things that happened that day for which I’m grateful.

If you have any difficulty falling asleep, a robust bedtime ritual can be a lifesaver. If you have kids (or were a kid), you know that parents establish a bedtime ritual to ease kids into falling asleep. It may include changing into comfy pajamas, dimming the lights, taking a bath, reading a book, singing a lullaby, listening to music, saying prayers, and/or rocking. We don’t sit kids in front of screens and fill them with caffeine and sugar and then expect they’ll fall asleep. But at some point, we seem to expect that we no longer need a bedtime ritual to prepare us for sleep. Consider establishing a bedtime routine to help you fall asleep more quickly and soundly – drink an herbal tea, take an Epsom salt bath, do some gentle stretching or yoga poses, meditate, read a paper book (not on electronics), listen to soft music, and/or diffuse lavender. Try different things and figure out what works best for you.

I have asked health gurus from my amazing network to share their bedtime rituals and best sleep tips. I will be sharing them on Facebook and Instagram throughout April. Check the posts to get ideas for what might work best for you.

 

 

 

Putting My Oxygen Mask on First – Perfectionism

My perfectionism (and my ego) is impacting my relationships. It prevents me from just BEING THERE and CREATING SPACE FOR MY PEEPS TO BE. It makes things about ME instead of them. Shouldn’t I have grown past the “world revolves around me” stage by now?

My son was recently in a program to address how his perfectionist tendencies have created anxiety that at times is crippling for him. continue reading »

Putting My Oxygen Mask on First – Easy Buttons vs Reset Buttons

My daughter and I saw Glennon Doyle speak at the People’s Church of Chicago on Friday night. She dropped many gems, but one in particular stuck with me. She talked about knowing your easy buttons vs your reset buttons – so that you make better choices.  Glennon defines easy buttons as those things you do to avoid your hot loneliness that take you away from yourself. Reset buttons are the things that bring you back to yourself. continue reading »

Putting My Oxygen Mask on First – Listening to Wisdom of my Body

Our own physical body possesses a wisdom which we who inhabit the body lack. We give it orders which make no sense. Henry Miller

We’ve all heard the saying “gut feeling”, “makes my heart sing”, “got cold feet”, ‘feel it in my bones”, “leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth”. These are all ways our language reflect the wisdom that comes from our body.

The first time I remember someone specifically coaching me on listening to my body was my life coach Alexis Robin (check her out at pLink Leadership). She told me to pay attention to how my body responds to a situation – do my upper back and neck muscles tighten up or am I relaxed? That tip has been life changing for me…it’s even part of my story about how I came to be an acupuncturist. continue reading »