This post is copied from our older, original blog. Original post date 12/15/2012.
By Marcie Bower, Lic.Ac.
Ok, folks, it is that time again. Time to make some New Years Resolutions and try to stick to them. Guess what? Acupuncture just might be able to help. Here are some of the most common resolutions that people make, and how acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can help you stick to them!
Get in Shape.
One of the most common resolutions Americans make each year is to exercise more. Because acupuncture looks at the whole body, it can help you in this endeavor in multiple ways. On a physical level, acupuncture is a great treatment for sore muscles or joint pain following a hard work-out – the kind of pain that may prevent you from sticking to your work-out regimen. It can also be used to increase athletic performance, aid in recovery from work-outs, and support structural alignment. On a mental/emotional level, acupuncture can help with motivation. Probably the most common reason that people slack off from an exercise routine is a lack of motivation or feeling too busy/overwhelmed. From an acupuncture perspective, this is often caused by energy being stuck in the body. (Ironically, the best thing to help unstick energy is…exercise!) Acupuncture seeks to rebalance the energy flow in the body so that your Qi (energy) flows freely, which gets us unstuck on a mental-emotional level, too.
The benefits of acupuncture in the process of quitting smoking are well-documented. While not a magic pill, acupuncture helps the body to deal with the symptoms of withdrawal and helps treat the anxiety and cravings that one experiences when quitting smoking. Acupuncture treatments for smoking cessation usually involve a well-known ear acupuncture protocol that helps the body, mind, and spirit through this transition.
Like smoking cessation, acupuncture can help with other addictive behaviors, too. Perhaps the most common we see in clinic is for support while quitting drinking. Acupuncture is actually utilized in many Western medical detox clinics because of its positive effects on helping to manage symptoms of detox, reduce cravings, and promote calm and relaxation.
I get calls all the time asking if acupuncture can help with weight loss. And the answer is yes. However, it is not a magic pill, and it if often something that happens over time, along with behavior modifications on the patient’s end. That says, acupuncture can help with weight loss in the following ways:
– Help to regulate metabolism to ensure your body is processing food effectively.
– Help to balance hormones in situations where hormonal imbalance (hypothyroid, PCOS, menopause, etc) is tied to weight gain.
– Increase motivation (see above) to help patients stick to exercise routines.
– Reduce cravings and regulate appetite to aid patients in making healthy eating choices.
Be more organized.
This might not sound like a healthcare issue, but because acupuncture seeks to understand how all aspects of a person are functioning together, helping you to be more organized is actually something that acupuncture can be very supportive in. An acupuncturist will work to understand what energy system is causing someone to have trouble staying organized – it is a difficulty focusing on a task? Is it a problem with seeing things in terms of categories and what needs to get done? Is it a problem of feeling easily overwhelmed and unsure of where to start? Each of these points to an imbalance in a unique energy system in Traditional Chinese Medicine. By supporting the body’s natural ability to better take care of itself, often we see significant changes in how the mind is able to organize, focus, and get things done. This is a situation where Chinese Herbal Medicine can also be very helpful.
Spend more time with family and friends.
Again, desiring to spend more time with family and friends doesn’t immediately sounds like something for which you would go to a medical professional. However, because acupuncture can work on an emotional level, it can help you to better be able to prioritize what it is you want out of life, and perhaps help you get to a mental place to make changes in your busy life to be better able to do that. I myself used acupuncture a lot while I was trying to make difficult decisions about jobs and careers and where to focus my energy. The acupuncture helped me to focus my mental energy so that I was better able to act in ways that would help me create the life I wanted to live.
Enjoy life more.
Most patients feel good after acupuncture. Clinically, acupuncture is used frequently as a supportive treatment for people with depression, anxiety, panic disorders, eating disorders, and other psychological disorders. For all of us, acupuncture can help you be in a better mood, be less anxious, worry less, and have a more positive outlook.
Ok, this one is a little harder, given the fact that acupuncture, for most people in Massachusetts, is an out-of-pocket expense. (Which hopefully will change in the coming years as insurance companies start to cover acupuncture more and more.) And I agree that one should not spend money on frivolous endeavors, particularly when trying to get out of debt and/or save money. That said, Americans pour millions into medical expenses. In the long-run, spending money to maintain a better state of health now could save you money in the long-term. Again, you need to find what works for you – but more and more insurance companies, workers compensation administrators, and even policy makers are talking about how acupuncture is a cost-effective medical intervention…and this may have large ramifications for you down the road.
Try something new.
Have you ever tried acupuncture before? Have you ever been asked to understand yourself in a completely new way? Acupuncture presents a very different way of understanding the body and the world than most of us grow up with. And it is a new experience for many to think of wellness in the terms of health-care rather than sick-care. To aim for a lifestyle of wellness first, before something goes wrong.
You have all heard the saying that to truly love another, first you have to love yourself. And the same goes for helping. To truly be able to help others, you need to know how to take care of yourself. Giving of ourselves – our time, our money, our resources – is at that heart of what it means to be a good person. However, giving of ourselves can also deplete our energy stores, and we need to be sure we replenish them so that we always have more to give. Acupuncture can help strengthen your body’s Qi so that you can be at your best and so that you can tap into more of yourself to share with others.