An acupuncturist’s self-care tool box

Now is a great time to build in some TLC for yourself and renew your commitment to take care of your amazing body. Here are only some of the tricks I have up my sleeve to take care of myself. These are not blanket recommendations for everyone; self-care is a personal pursuit of balance and comfort, so the exact mix of helpful tricks varies from person to person.

  • Exfoliation: Dry skin brushing or wet skin exfoliation do more than just shed old skin; they activate the lymph to help flush the body of toxins. Our skin is our largest organ and is considered our third lung, so it absorbs and expels much more than we notice all day long.
  • Nature: Stepping outside where there are trees or birds or a stream opens the senses up to new sights, sounds, and smells. Fresh air and sunlight aren’t just for plants.
  • Touch: Massage, foam rolling, scalp scratching, hugs, or pet-petting release endorphins that boost mood and reduce pain.
  • Food abstinence: When I’m feeling fragile, on the verge of getting sick, I’ll hold off on sugar, alcohol, overly spicy foods, fried or processed foods, and dairy, and stick to bland dishes like soups or cooked veggies, because the digestive system is responsible for 70% of our immune system.
  • Water: I don’t overdo it on water since massive amounts of water can exhaust the kidneys. I do pay attention to my eyes, mouth, nose and skin for any dryness sensations and keep an eye on my pee; when it gets slightly cloudy, colorful, or inconsistent, I reach for a couple glasses of water.
  • Herbal concoctions: An herbal blend mixed into a smoothie, or an herbal tea to soothe and support internal organs, or reaching for herbs like ginger and garlic can help boost the body’s natural healing abilities.
  • Bentonite Clay: Drinking a mixture of this clay and water soaks up gut disturbances. Applying clay topically to skin acne or rashes also soaks up these external outbursts of internal heat.
  • Colloidal Silver: Ingested in moderation, this can act as an internal neutralizer when feeling a cold coming on.
  • Chiropractic: When my back is in line, everything else in my body feels like it has more space to breathe.
  • Movement/Stretching: The body is always talking, and often, it’s asking for some type of movement, whether walking, stretching, or exercising. Sometimes the answer to a frozen joint or aching pain is to get it moving.
  • Sleep: Even laying flat on my back for as little as 5 minutes and not sleeping has a way of feeling restorative.
  • Tennis balls and a Spoonk: Muscles naturally get knotted up. Applying gentle pressure to knots by leaning against a tennis ball, or lying on a Spoonk for several minutes, can help release knots.
  • Heating pad or ice pack: I reach for a heating pad first in the event of body tension or pain because it relaxes and circulates blood flow, and if that just feels too hot or increases a throbbing sensation, I’ll reach for an ice pack instead.
  • Hand washing: Enough said.
  • Vitamins or mineral supplements: I favor Vitamin D for dark winter days, and Magnesium for tight muscles.
  • Salt baths: A couple cups of Epsom salt in a very warm bath for 20 minutes helps relax tightness and draw out toxins from the body.
  • Neti Pot: If I wake up congested, this is the first thing I do, and then I repeat it before going to bed.
  • Essential oils: My most common uses are: peppermint to clear sinuses or reduce headaches, lavender to heal burns and insect bites, and citrus to lift my mood and for going to social events.
  • Breathing: By breathing, I mean inhaling down to my toes and exhaling out into all corners of my body. It’s grounding and cleansing. It lowers my blood pressure and feeds my cells with oxygen.
  • Self-awareness tools: Journaling, meditating, talking out issues with someone, and doing some kind of self-inquiry work are essentials in my book.
  • Joy: Emotional pain turns into all types of physical ailments pretty quickly, so I plan in time to feel and experience a lightness of being.
  • Acupuncture: I frequently will either needle points on myself or press into certain points, mainly because I simply love acupuncture.

Now, with all the best self-care imaginable, the body still needs a break sometimes, and I have a hunch our bodies use exhaustion or sickness to push the pause button on purpose when we need to be stuck in bed for a day or more. So pauses are welcome and not to be feared!

Feeling good is never a guaranteed thing, and it never lasts forever. Actively finding your personal list of life-management techniques makes health hiccups a little easier to bear, though.


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