emotional health, food, health, mental health, motivational, nature

Taking a break

There's nothing like dipping your toes in to the ocean.
There’s nothing like dipping your toes in to the ocean.

I escaped from Brisbane this week just gone and thoroughly enjoyed a refreshing break.

I’ve written several times about why taking a break is important, how I like to relax and why the great outdoors is good for us.

This break started out in Campbelltown, Western Sydney. I’d just finished my Master of Health Science (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Women’s Health workshops for the year. (I’d like to add that these workshops were excellent – we had speakers on the use of acupuncture and herbal medicine for PCOS, IVF support and male infertility.)

This is Nicola Macdonald (the owner of the clinic) and I enjoying breakfast on our last day there:

Nov 14 UWS

I then jumped on a train to the NSW Central Coast to visit my cousin and his partner. And on the day I arrive their ducklings hatched out of their eggs. One of them will be called Sarah. ūüėČ

Nov 14 ducklings
Ducks aren’t very clucky so this hen was happy to lend her services.

This couple are interested in sustainable living. In addition to the ducks, they have a very impressive veggie garden which is helped along by rotating their chooks around the beds. Further down the backyard are the horses. Meals always include a good helping of fresh veggies from the garden. Oh! And I also tried my first duck egg – scrambled with fresh herbs.

The duck pond with just the edge of the veggie garden in the background.
The duck pond with just the edge of the veggie garden in the background.

My next stop was Nelson Bay in Port Stephens. This place is a sleepy little coastal town. My drawcard was that I had read that the scuba diving was up there with some of the best that New South Wales¬†has to offer. We headed out on the boat to Broughton Island. This was my first dive in a while and I was lucky enough to see a Grey Nurse shark at around¬†2.5-3m. She was a biggie! I also met some lovely new friends on the boat. I’ll be back to Nelson Bay for some shore diving sometime, it is supposed to be spectacular!

Nov 14 Nelson Bay

After these adventures I gradually made my way back up to Brisbane. Relaxed, refreshed and inspired. ūüôā

I’m back in the clinic this Thursday and Friday.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

Diet, emotional health, exercise, food, health, mental health, motivational, nature, Traditional Chinese Medicine

A Chinese medicine guide to living well in Spring

I’m a bit slow on getting my spring living post out this year! Apologies to all of you who have been wondering what to do since the turn of the season, you can now relax with the information contained within this post.

Here’s a little song to get you out of winter and into the spring mood.

In Chinese medicine the season of spring is all about these:

  • Moving¬†from the cold and slowness of winter into a warmer, more energetic state as our Yang Qi predominates.
  • There is an upward energy.
  • The mood picks up, life feels¬†lighter.
  • And there is a need to move more and get active.
  • We need to stretch out and get flexible after the rigidity of winter.
  • Plants are sprouting fresh green shoots.
  • This is the time of the Wood element and the Liver and Gallbladder need care.
  • The wind picks up. This has been particularly noticeable in Brisbane in the afternoons especially¬†earlier in the season.
  • There is more light and longer days¬†giving us a good supply of vitamin D to support our yang Qi. Safe levels of sun exposure depend on where you live and are outlined¬†here.
  • The colour is green in keeping with those fresh sprouts.
  • The flavour is sour which again brings a feeling of lightness and freshness.
Spring is a wonderful time to walk around the Jacaranda trees in blossom.
Spring is a wonderful time to walk around the Jacaranda trees in blossom.

If you don’t naturally feel this shift to spring or you want to maximise your spring energy to live in harmony with the seasons then here are some tips:

  • Go to bed a little later and wake a little earlier (just like the birds)
  • Get some outdoor exercise (eg. walking or qi gong) and sunlight in the morning before you start the serious stuff in your day.
  • Wear loose clothing and don’t tie your hair back tightly. Let everything flow.
  • Focus on relaxation and flexibility of your mind and body. Now is an excellent time to get into some meditation and/or yoga.
  • Sing, dance or do activities that lighten your mood.
  • Work within your limits so as to enjoy the movement and longer days but not to overtire yourself.
  • Be prepared for changes in the weather, so while most of your summer clothes are coming out, have a spare layer handy to protect yourself from a sneaky cold snap or some breezy conditions.
  • Do a spring clean. Get rid of the clutter and excess that might have been stored away during winter ¬†(or the rest of the year). A spring clean can be in your house, body and/or mind. Make room for the new.
  • Open the windows. Get good ventilation in your space. Get some indoor plants.
  • Focus your attention to being positive, optimistic, open minded, tranquil, happy and friendly.
  • Enjoy nature. Go hiking, camping or anything you enjoy that takes you into¬†the great outdoors.
  • Generally eat fresh, clean and crisp foods that are in season. Some Chinese medicine dietary tips include benefiting the:
    • yang qi through pungent foods (eg. onions, garlic, ginger, paprika, chives, mint and mustard)
    • liver through some sour foods – just enough to make you feel well but no need to over do it. A squeeze of lemon in your water or some natural yogurt can be beneficial.
    • wood element through green coloured foods eg. green tea, green leafy vegetables (kale, broccolini, baby spinach), peas, beans, asparagus, sprouts and celery.
    • Avoid very spicy and fatty foods at this time of year and don’t overdo the sour flavour.

For another post about spring health read here.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

emotional health, mental health, motivational

Two smile-worthy videos for International Happiness Day

Happy International Day of… Happiness! Yes, the United Nations proclaimed that 20th March is the day to officially recognise that Gross National Happiness is just as important in creating policy as Gross National Product.

Today I thought it was fitting to share two videos with you. The first an entertaining and warm take on compassion and interconnectedness with others to our well being. These are ideas we can all include in our daily lives Рstarting right now. Robert Thurman, the first American to be ordained a Tibetan Monk by the Dalai Lama, gives us this short little gem of a TED talk.

Secondly, if you want something more light hearted which will put a smile on your face right now, well you can’t go past Monty Python’s Always look on the bright side of life. It actually reinforces one of Robert Thurman’s points that even in times of suffering making the effort to smile is more beneficial to you than the alternative.

I have written before on happiness tips:

I hope you enjoy today’s happiness offerings. And while we are chatting about happiness, why not drop me a comment about what contributes to your happiness?

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

Diet, emotional health, exercise, food, mental health, nature, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Living well in Autumn

From the cartoon genius that is Michael Leunig. I thought this was incredibly cute.

Many people say that autumn is one of the most delightful times of year in Brisbane with beautiful clear skies and moderate temperatures. Autumn is the time when the heat and humidity from summer dissipates gradually and we begin to dry off and cool down in the transition towards winter. Here’s something to put you in the mood: Tchaikovsky’s Autumn (or October in the northern hemisphere) – the inspiration for Leunig’s ‘The Autumn Circle of Magpies and Ducks’ perhaps?

As a follow up to my summer livin‘ post I thought I should introduce you all to good living tips for autumn too. The following are a collection of ideas (in no particular order) associated with autumn:

  • Gathering
  • Harvest the mature
  • Build storage for winter
  • Yang Qi (energy) falls and Yin Qi (energy) rises gradually
  • Qi (energy) moves inward and downward
  • Bright and crisp
  • Cool and dry
  • Clarity and simplicity
  • Reflection and reconnection
  • Slowing down
  • Lungs, large intestine and your skin
  • Preserving a harmonious mood
  • Pungent flavours and aromas
  • The colour white
  • The metal element

Gradually add even just a few of these tips as the weather changes to maximise your health in the autumn:

  • Lifestyle:
    • Get more sleep. Go to bed earlier than in summer and rise a little later.
    • Don’t tire yourself out physically or sweat too much.
    • Feel the weather getting cooler but don’t feel the need to rug up to be ‘over’ warm until the weather gets colder. Layers are good! On the other hand, be prepared with some warm clothes and bedclothes in the case of a cold snap.
    • Exercise should be more about building strength than sweating it out in the autumn. This relates to gathering muscle and preserving body fluids. However, if you wish to lose weight, Chinese medicine considers autumn a good time to exercise more to prevent further ‘storage’ over the winter.
    • Look after your skin. Find yourself lovely aromatic, natural facial and body moisturisers/oils to keep your skin nourished in the drier climate. Don’t forget to moisturise after a bath too.
    • This is also an excellent time to pull out some books, cards and board games for a little bit of inside time with friends and family in the evenings.
  • Emotional health:
    • If you love summer then autumn can be a sad time. Make the most of bright and crisp autumn days, getting some safe exposure to sunlight. This could involve a walk in nature, exercise in a park, and sightseeing around mountains, rivers or lakes.
  • Foods:
    • More substantial meals than in summer, yet not as heavy as in winter – simple and sumptuous!
    • Savour the deep, complex flavours of autumn.
    • Moisten dryness with foods such as pears, spinach, nuts, seeds, avocado, milks (if they agree with you, including soy) and honey. Porridge with honey and banana can be very moistening.
    • Eat some pungent and warm foods (Eg. leeks, radishes, garlic, cinnamon, ginger, onion and chilli) but not until you sweat.
    • Also gradually include sour (preserve fluids) and bitter (descends to store) flavoured foods.
    • Make the most of: wild mushrooms, garlic, leeks, onions, potatoes, turnips, parsnips, swedes, beetroot, broccoli and borlotti beans. A lot of these foods are naturally white in colour which is synonymous with the metal element.
    • Avoid excessive cool/cold/icy foods and drinks.
    • Use cooking methods which will¬†maximise food aromas such as baking (warming) and saute (preserving moisture content). Use your slow cooker to gently warm and keep the moisture in your food – plus you will come to the aroma of a home cooked dinner!

If you find that autumn brings out the worst in your health (eg. moodwise, asthma or respiratory symptoms, skin conditions, constipation or other digestive orders) talk to me about acupuncture, herbal medicine or other lifestyle methods which may benefit your condition.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

health, martial arts, massage, mental health, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Have you ever been in a float tank?

Floating on the Red Sea

I’ve always been curious about float tanks. But it wasn’t until last week that I actually took the… plunge.

After getting back into cycling, hiking and karate training for the year, my body has been a little achy and tight. My massage therapist told me, “you know what you need? A float. Go on, ring up now!” Well, there’s nothing like the power of now. So I called the place she recommended. They’d moved. But I tracked them down and was booked in for my first float two hours later.

Prior to taking the float I chatted to a friend online. “What about claustrophobia?” we wondered. “Can you leave the lid open?” I also wondered how clean the float tank would be and what the hygiene standards were like.

Well. When I arrived at the float centre I was asked to shower and shampoo my hair before getting into the tank (towels and shampoo were provided). The float tank was heated to luke warm temperature, so a shower cooler than skin temperature is recommended before you jump into the tank. I thought I’d get cold in the tank (as I’m a bit of a cold frog) but I had no problem with the temperature at all – I was completely comfortable. And yes, you can leave the lid ajar if you wish. I had my eyes closed and was perfectly happy to close the lid completely. You are also given ear plugs to prevent the water filling up your ear canals. And soft relaxation music plays for the first 20 minutes of your session.

The tank looked very clean and the water was crystal clear. The water has had 350 kilograms of epsom salts dissolved into it. Okay, so that’s a tad more than the 1-2 cups I’d normally use in the bath. This strong epsom salts solution makes you float – just as you would in the Red Sea. The massage therapist had warned me not to hold my head up, “your head won’t sink – make sure that you completely relax your neck – you won’t drown.” And she was right. It was great advice. In fact, I relaxed so much I fell asleep while floating in the heavily mineralised water. It wasn’t until the relaxation music that is played in the last ten minutes of your one hour session came on that I woke up.

After showering the salts away and drying off, I experienced a deep sense of relaxation. I don’t think I would have been in a position to operate heavy machinery or rely on any sharp mental function that afternoon. I also slept very well that night. And yes, my tight (just about rock-hard) neck and shoulders were looser, allowing my massage therapist to work deeper on me in my next treatment.

In Chinese medicine this translates to my Shen (spirit) being calmed, the excess Yang had descended and the Qi was flowing smoothly in the channels. And in fact, salt is used in our medicine for its softening, loosening, cooling and downbearing actions. Makes sense.

If you’re in need of some relaxation or a good night’s sleep a float session might be just up your alley. Combine it with some acupuncture and/or massage and you would surely be taken off to a soft, white, floaty, cloud heaven.

Are you a float tank enthusiast?

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

acupuncture, Diet, emotional health, exercise, food, food allergy, health, herbal medicine, martial arts, mental health, motivational, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

A gift for you and a gift for me.

Yin Yang birthday cake
A very decadent (and appropriate) birthday cake my sister once made me. We are a family of baked good lovers!

It’s my birthday today. Yes, I’m part of the Christmas Eve birthday club. The day has it’s pros and cons but it’s mine and I’m a very proud late-December Capricorn.

There’s something about an approaching birthday that makes me do a stock take of the past year and a look towards the coming year, so I’ve done a big clean out and made room for the new by giving the old away. Let’s just say the charity bin is several bags richer of some lovely threads that I just don’t wear anymore. May they make someone else happy.

I’ve also been absolutely spoiled rotten by friends and family today (and in the days leading up today). What a bunch of generous, talented and loving souls I am honoured to be surrounded by.

Thank you all.

paeony pillow cases

I also had to share this gift with you. An amazing friend screen printed these pillow cases with my new clinic branding – gorgeous huh? I am so grateful to have friends, family and patients who support me so well in my healing work.

Now, I wanted to share another gift with all of you too. It’s the top ten list of articles by views on my blog this year. The Wellness Ninja has tripled it’s readership this year – thank you so much! So here is the best of 2013’s blog posts for you to devour over the break in case you missed any!

Please enjoy them. And may you enjoy this festive season with your friends and family.

  1. Nourishing the blood with Traditional Chinese Medicine and wholefoods
  2. Five Chinese Medicine tips to soothe a sore throat
  3. Gluten and dairy-free fruit and nut slice
  4. It’s time for a detox – Traditional Chinese Medicine style
  5. Bruise remedies for martial artists, athletes and the accident prone
  6. Three herbs a Jedi Knight may be prescribed to develop the Force within
  7. Vegetarian quiche: a tasty gluten and dairy-free recipe
  8. The acupuncturist and the broken heart
  9. Delicious vegetarian nachos (gluten and dairy free)
  10. Five natural medicine tips for surviving the exam period

And also have you downloaded your free Herbs, health and acupressure ebook yet?

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

exercise, health, martial arts, mental health, motivational

How to fit exercise into a busy life

Sarah Dad cycling 2013
My Dad and I after finishing the Brisbane to Ipswich charity ride this year.

I was asked to prepare a guest blog for the Endeavour College of Natural Health regarding how I fit exercise into my life around my many commitments. (Aren’t we all busy these days?)

We know that exercise (in its many forms) has a multitude of benefits for our bodies including improving cardiovascular health, maintaining a healthy weight, easing some types of pain, balancing blood sugar and enhancing our mental health. We simply cannot afford to miss a daily dose.

If you struggle finding ways to get some daily exercise in that:

  1. fits into your schedule and around your commitments
  2. is low cost
  3. is enjoyable

then click on this link which will take you to my Wellspring guest post (Workouts the experts swear by: fitness secrets from an acupuncturist) to get some ideas on how you can get exercise into your life… and feel so much better for it!

I am currently overcoming an injury (with herbs, acupuncture, massage, shockwave therapy and rehab exercises aplenty) but will be right back to my schedule as soon as possible – I miss it!

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.