massage, Traditional Chinese Medicine

What is TCM remedial massage and who can it help?

Massage pushing web2Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) remedial massage, otherwise known as tui na, is a therapy that dates back two thousand years ago to ancient China. The words ‘tui na’ translate to ‘push grasp’ which describes this style of massage with its assorted techniques including kneading, tapping, rubbing and pressing. The pressure used is suited to the individual patient and can be light on the skin or firm for deep tissue techniques. Pressure is applied to acupuncture points to stimulate them for specific conditions.

This form of massage is part of the greater system of TCM, a diverse system of medicine that covers all major systems within the body; which means it can be used for a wide range of acute and chronic ailments. TCM is focused on treating the underlying cause of disease as well as the presenting symptoms. This involves a holistic approach linking the body, mind and emotions in both the cause of disease and its treatment. TCM remedial massage may also be used to optimise overall wellness.

How does TCM remedial massage work?

By using a range of massage techniques your massage therapist will aim at best treating the particular condition you wish to have treated – whether that’s pain relief, reducing tension, healing injury or just making you feel better.

Peer-reviewed medical research has shown that massage techniques may provide:

  • Pain relief – For musculoskeletal injuries, tension headaches and back pain.
  • Mental alertness – After massage, EEG patterns indicate enhanced performance and alertness on mathematical computations.
  • Reduced anxiety and depression – Massage nay reduce subclinical depression.
  • Detoxification – Massage may stimulate the immune system by increasing blood flow and lymph drainage.
  • Muscle recovery – Massage may help to clear muscles of lactic and uric acid that build up during exercise.
  • Muscle tone – Improving muscle tone and delaying muscle atrophy resulting from inactivity.
  • Prevent injury – Deep massage may separate fascial fibres, prevent adhesions and reduce inflammation and oedema.
  • Relaxation – The release of endorphins and serotonin inducing a relaxed, ‘feel good’ state may improve sleep, reduce blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Healing – Massage may increase circulation and therefore improves the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cells.

Traditionally, acupressure is explained by influencing the flow of Qi (energy or life force) within the body. For example, someone with throbbing headaches has too much Qi moving upwards, or someone with pain that is worse for rest has Qi that is ‘stuck’ or not circulating well. Researchers have identified that stimulating an acupuncture point (with a needle or acupressure) can create measurable changes in the body. Acupuncture points have an influence over the area that surrounds them. An acupuncture point can also have an influence over areas far removed from the actual point being needled.

Who can benefit?

TCM remedial massage is ideal for most musculoskeletal pain. It can also be beneficial for other health conditions, particularly when combined with acupuncture and/or other techniques such as cupping or herbal medicine.

People who can benefit from TCM remedial massage include those with specific pains such as stiff neck, tight shoulders or lower back pain; as well as anyone who suffers from chronic stress or general muscle tension.

I have many clients who choose to book regular monthly massages to promote wellness, reduce stress and prevent injury.

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.

acupuncture, emotional health, exercise, food, health, herbal medicine, massage, mental health, motivational, nature, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Make next year the start of your healthy ageing program, no matter how old you are.

tai chiLike it or not, we’re all ageing.  But what is most important is how we age.  We want quality of life as we grow older so that we can keep up with our hobbies, sporting interests, working commitments, social life and family. The reality is however, we are living longer but our older years are spent in poor health.  It is up to us as individuals to be the exception to the rule.

In practice, patients often seek help when the symptoms they have begin to negatively impact on the things they like to do. Most of us can tolerate pain or slight inconvenience but having the things we love out of our reach, well no one wants to let that happen.  And so it is then that we are most motivated (by desperation) to make the changes needed to return to good health.

My advice: don’t wait for your health to get that bad!  Seek help as soon as things feel ‘out of balance’.

The Harvard School of Public Health has just reported on a study highlighting the “need for greater attention to non-fatal consequences that limit people’s physical and mental function, including mental health conditions and musculoskeletal disorders.”

So, if you are looking for a new year’s resolution, why not use next year as the beginning of your lifetime of good health. It doesn’t matter whether you are 15 or 95 years old, it’s never too early, or late, to start your health-promoting lifestyle:

  • Reduce your chronic disease risk factors (E.g. stress, obesity, substance abuse, processed/fatty/sugary foods and exposure to environmental toxins).
  • Increase what makes you feel well (E.g. laughter, meditation, exercise,  7-8 hours sleep, wholesome home-cooked meals, learning new skills, spending time in nature and nurturing connections with positive, like-minded people).  Here are some ideas.
  • See a practitioner early in the year (as early as you can while this thought is at the forefront of your mind) to get you on track, set goals and make a plan you can stick to. Perhaps some acupuncture, massage and herbs can kick-start your new year of good living (and help you tackle any of the tricky stumbling blocks that you’ve had in the past)?

This isn’t a new idea at all.  The concept of healthy ageing and longevity has been ingrained in Traditional Chinese Medicine for around 2000 years – and here’s how they did it.

Let’s make 2013 our most radiant year yet which will set us on a path of healthful ageing for our lifetime to come.

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.

health, massage

Take a course in massage for wellbeing

Come and learn to massage with me on Saturday 18th February 2012.

Massage for Wellbeing

Start as you intend to go on! Begin 2012 loving and caring for your body by learning how to give a proper head, shoulder, neck, arms & hands massage.

In this one day course, I will not only teach you how to massage to another person, but will also cover off self-massage techniques for wellbeing.

Details and booking info here.  Early bird rate finishes on 13th January 2012.

You’ll learn from this course:

  • The benefits of massage
  • Common sore points
  • Basic massage techniques and when to use what
  • How to assess tense areas
  • When NOT to massage and practicing safely
  • Learning a simple self massage sequence
  • Basic acupressure points
  • Creating a simple massage sequence to give to another

The course will run in seated positions and fully clothed.

This course is suitable for those who would like to learn how to massage friends and family, as it does NOT lead to any formal qualifications.

Read five reasons why you should learn to massage for fun!

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

Scuba diving: extreme relaxation

Great Barrier Reef Anemone Fish, otherwise known as Nemo

Last week I took advantage of a 5-day gap in my schedule (between speaking at a midwives seminar and supervising the College Acupuncture Clinic) and headed off for a well-earned break to the warm, tropical waters of North Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef.

Yes, the mini-holiday was relaxing, but it was my activity of choice that had far more to offer in tranquility than your average beach holiday.  I wanted to really slow down.  And this pastime had plenty to offer  for busy, city people who rush around, burn the candle at both ends and see the world in a blur.

I went scuba diving: three days living on a boat, ten dives, plenty of food and a few naps.  Bliss.  Not at all an extreme sport, well not the way I do it anyway.

But why was it so deeply relaxing?

  1. Go slow.  Scuba diving makes you slow down.  You can’t swim fast, and if you try to move about in a flurry, you disturb your buoyancy and end up floating towards the surface and/or stirring up the sand on the bottom.  A definite no-no.  In fast-paced modern life there aren’t many activities that are encouraged to be done slowly, diving is one of the rare few.
  2. Breathe.  Remember how to breathe slowly and deeply? As soon as most of us are stressed our breathing rate increases and becomes shallow.  When scuba diving, it’s advantageous to slow your breathing rate down to conserve air, that way you can enjoy the tranquil underwater world for longer.  Breathing slowly also encourages our blood vessels to dilate and our blood pressure to lower, which is relaxing for both the mind and the body.
  3. Enjoy the moment.  This is perhaps the most important point and one that is easily missed in normal life.  The practice of ‘mindfulness meditation’ is built on this concept.  Rather than clearing your mind of thoughts, we focus on really experiencing exactly what is around us, right at this second.  When scuba diving, as we slowly move through the water, the whole idea is to do just that, explore the surroundings – take in the big picture; the beautiful coral gardens and abundant fish life or focus in on the minute detail of a section of rock and its little ecosystem of shrimp, nudibranchs and tiny fish – the things you would ordinarily be too busy to notice (such as the anemone fish pictured above).  Time may almost stand still. (And the added bonus of that is your holiday will also seem longer!)

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, diving offers us real ‘yin’ time.  It’s not only slow and peaceful, but also involves being immersed in cool water.  You can’t get much more yin that that.

This is just one way I like to unwind.  How do you choose to spend your ‘yin’ time?

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, exercise, food, health, motivational, nature, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Spring into good health!

Finally! It’s September and spring is here. You can feel it in the air – the sun feels warmer, the days are longer and even the water dragons have emerged from hibernation to sunbake around Brisbane’s Kangaroo Point cliffs.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) takes the change of season and its effect on your health quite seriously. We see the transition to be a time when your energy is shifting and if it is not managed well, can make you more susceptable to ill-health and picking up allergies, colds and flus, and generally not feeling at your tip-top best.

So in spring, like the water dragons, we emerge from the cold of winter.  Many of us find winter the hardest time to get motivated and active.  This is because it is natural for us to want to stay indoors wearing our ugg boots and eating casseroles to stay warm during the cold weather.  Cold contracts and has an inward nature, reflected in our winter behaviour.

But as the season changes, spring arrives and so the Yang, the aspect of our body that warms and gives us energy, rises letting us know that it’s time to get moving.  Like a seed that is sprouting we too need some sunshine (think of it as a vitamin D hit) and a clean environment with fresh air (hence the term ‘spring’ clean) to be invigorated.  Add to that some exercise and some lighter foods (think stir frys with lots of fresh seasonal vegetables).  You can even take the spring clean further and do a short detoxification diet. Spring is the best time of year for this and it may help you to shed a few extra kilos you added to keep you warm over the winter.

Spring is a great time to shift your exercise program outdoors.  Think about walking, hiking, jogging, cycling (here’s a great website for finding safe cycling routes around Brisbane), canoeing or even personal training in a park.  Research has shown that exercising outdoors and in amongst greenery is good for our mental health too.

A word of caution for spring, whilst the weather is warmer, the summer has not arrived yet, so be prepared with clothing to protect you from drafts or cold winds that may still be lurking around.

And by following this advice you should be radiant and full of vitality for enjoying the delights of summer.

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.

aromatherapy, health

I want my bath…and the essential oils!

I love baths.  There’s nothing like a long soak in a warm bath for your health and happiness.  And in Winter, I think baths are even nicer.

There are endless reasons to justify having a luxurious bath.  It could be because you:

  • Had a bad day
  • Had a good day
  • Had a hard workout
  • Have body aches
  • Picked up a cold or flu
  • Need a good sleep
  • Feel cold
  • Are feeling grumpy
  • Think everyone else is being grumpy
  • Deserve to be spoiled
  • Have some new bath oils
  • Are preparing for a night out
  • Are preparing for a night in
  • Are feeling like romance
  • Just like baths!

Here’s some simple steps to create your perfect mind-relaxing, muscle-soothing and health-promoting bath.  Be careful, like anything that creates a sense of euphoria, baths like these can be addictive!

  1. Remove all unpleasant noises from earshot of your bath (eg. phones, children).
  2. Replace those sounds with your chosen selection of chill out music (perhaps some jazz or classical?)
  3. Run the bath with the perfect temperature water for you.
  4. Add 1-2 cups of epsom salts to soothe your muscular aches away.
  5. Assemble fluffy towels in easy reach of your bath.
  6. Light some candles.
  7. Will you be in the need of a beverage?  A nice cup of herbal tea goes down well, but sometimes a glass of wine fits the mood.
  8. Choose the right essential oils to set the mood for your bath.  Just before you hop in, add 4-6 drops of pure essential oil (that’s the plant-based ones not the artificial oils known as fragrant oils) to the bath and agitate the water to disperse them (or you can add the essential oils to a tablespoon of oil or teaspoon of vodka first).  Here’s some essential oil suggestions:
    • relaxation blend: lavender (3 drops), orange (1 drop), chamomile – often sold as a 3% dilution – this is ok (2 drops)
    • balance blend: geranium (2 drops), rosewood (2 drops), lavender (2 drops)
    • uplifting blend: bergamot (2 drops), lemon (2 drops), geranium (2 drops)
    • romantic blend: ylang ylang (1 drop), geranium (2 drops), orange (1 drop)
    • muscle-relax blend: lavender (3 drops), rosemary (1 drop), marjoram (1 drop)
  9. Sink into the bath, relax and enjoy.

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, exercise, food, health, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Lessons in longevity from ancient China

Last weekend I took a break from my usual routine of hiking training to attend a seminar discussion with Chinese Medicine historian, Marta Hanson PhD. Marta took us on a Traditional Chinese Medicine journey beginning with ancient spiritual healing practices up until modern-day medicine in which Chinese herbal medicine was used in SARS prevention and treatment.  Some ideas have lasted the ages, some were dropped and some have evolved into new ideas to bring us the medicine we now know.

At times in Chinese history, immortality (and longevity) were greatly sought after.  And due to this, medicine placed great importance on preservation of health.  In fact, a line from a poem from the 3rd century attributed to Lao Tzu in the Taoist classic, the Tao te ching, states:

 “The best physicians always treat disease when it is not [yet] a disease

And so [their patients] are not ill.”

Many classical medical texts from around this time describe the role of the medical practitioner in a similar way.  So what was required to maintain this ideal state of glowing vitality?  A good physician/acupuncturist/herbalist would guide their patient with individualised advice on the following (and we still do this today):

  • Balance.  The concept of Yin & Yang represent a type of balance that we see in nature.  Yin and Yang are two polar forces and yet are part of each other and evolve to become one another. They are relative terms.  The Yin Yang diagram (which appeared in the current form we know now much later in time) demonstrates Yin and Yang.  Yin is dark, quiet, cold, substantial and feminine.  Yang is light, loud, hot, energetic and masculine.  Yin and Yang can be applied to anything in life to understand balance.  For instance, a bright office room full of activity is yang in comparison to a bedroom, that is dark and quiet, yin qualities.  People and diseases can be described as more yin or yang.  Even your lifestyle or career can be described as yin or yang.  Running a marathon (yang)  versus lying on the couch (yin).  What is important here, is that we need to work towards balance of yin and yang to preserve good health.  So, if you are a busy career woman, perhaps it’s ok to incorporate a yoga class or even some couch time.  And if you have a desk bound job maybe getting outside for a walk at lunchtime would benefit you well.
  • Exercise – these were described as gymnastics but resemble something more like what we know as tai chi or yoga.  These exercises, when done regularly, were designed to encourage good circulation, movement of the body, strength, flexibility and breathing well to improve the function of the organs and body.
  • Meditation – the Taoists incorporated meditation techniques specifically involving  thoughts of improving the way their bodies functioned.  This is something that some of my patients employ during their acupuncture treatment but can be used at anytime.
  • Diet – given that the second most important medical position within the imperial court was the Dietician (the first being the Master Physician who oversaw the entire medical official team), we can surmise the great significance of good food to maintain good health.  The Dietician was responsible for providing menus that were well-balanced and reflected the seasons.  Most of us now, manage what we put into our own mouths (sometimes not as well as we’d like).   As a general rule, choose produce grown locally, in season (eating with the seasons is still relevant) and combine good quality proteins, carbohydrates and fats.  Also consider warming up your diet in colder weather in both temperature and spice.  A good acupuncturist can help you put together a diet to suit you if you struggle in this area.

There are many ancient medical ideas from China that we do not currently employ.  One in particular that I liked was ‘The Master of Crickets’.  This official was in charge of removing anything that makes a ‘disagreeable sound’.  Back then, they were thinking of crickets and cicadas, but we could now apply this position to noisy neighbours and leaf blowers.

So, who’s up for giving the quest for immortality (or at the very least preserving good health) a go?

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, food, health, herbal medicine, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Spice up your life, with chai

Chai is a personal favourite beverage and is best enjoyed in cooler weather.  As the first day of Winter is just tomorrow, I have chai on my mind and by the time you have read this blog I hope you will too.

left – black tea chai, right – herbal chai

There’s something really comforting about having a ‘sit down and a nice cup of tea’.  Chai takes this experience up a notch – we spice the tea up.  This style of tea is wonderfully fragrant and warms you from within.

The word ‘chai’ is the name given to tea in India and refers to the way in which Indians often take their tea.  Most chai teas use a combination of spices that are often found in Indian cooking and herbal medicine such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom and black pepper, but the ingredients vary from chai to chai.  It can include black tea, green tea or simply the spices alone as an herbal tea.  Likewise, milk is optional, and even then you can choose from cow (not for the vegans or dairy-free amongst us), soy, rice or nut milks.  Your chai can be sweetened with honey or sugar.

As for the wellness aspect of tea in general, the Japanese Buddhist priest, Myoe (1173-1232), is said to have inscribed this into his teakettle:

Tea has the blessing of all the deities
Tea promotes filial piety
Tea drives away all evil spirits
Tea banishes drowsiness
Tea keeps the five internal organs in harmony
Tea wards off disease
Tea strengthens friendship
Tea disciplines body and mind
Tea destroys the passions
Tea grants a peaceful death

So, given that the weather is cooler now it is time to ditch your iced tea (although strictly speaking in Traditional Chinese Medicine chilled liquids are frowned upon all year round anyway) and opt for a health-restoring steamy cup  of delicious chai, as this quote describes:

“Tea should be drunk when hot.  Cold tea will aid the accumulation of phlegm.  It is better to drink less of it, rather than more.  Better yet!  Don’t drink it at all.” Chia Ming, Yin-shih hsu-chih, fourteenth century

Bare in mind the milkier and sweeter your chai is, the more likely it is to also create phlegm, although, the warming spices should aid digestion to some degree. So, as usual, moderation is the key.

You can make your own chai with a recipe like this one or purchase some loose leaf chai from a shop that supplies good quality teas, don’t bother with the supermarket ones.

Now, would you like a cup of chai?  Go on…

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, food, health, Traditional Chinese Medicine

How to have breakfast like an Emperor (or Empress) every day

Brown rice congee

There is an old saying that goes “Eat breakfast like an emperor, lunch like a king and dinner like a pauper”.  That is, make breakfast a larger, nutritious meal, lunch as a moderate meal and dinner, well something light so as not to distract you from a sound slumber.

So, breakfast as an Emperor, what does that mean?  The Emperor (or Empress) needs breakfast to provide him (or her) with energy for the day, both physically and mentally.  And so do you.

To enjoy a good breakfast, firstly you need to wake with a good appetite.  If you don’t, this needs attention and should be brought up with your acupuncturist, herbalist or naturopath.

Secondly, breakfast, where possible, should be consumed around 7-9am.  This is when your digestive system is at its strongest according to the Traditional Chinese Medicine Clock (a system that had similarities to the circadian rhythms, at different times of the day, different systems in the body will function more predominately). For the majority of people, this time is a logical time to take their first meal of the day.  For some people, to eat breakfast around this time takes planning.  (For example, take your food to work if you leave home early.)

Thirdly, this meal needs to be fit for an Emperor.  I don’t mean you should stuff yourself silly, but rather go to town with good quality and nutritious foods.  Now, would an Emperor possibly think that tea and toast or cornflakes for breakfast will allow him the energy to get through a day?  Definitely not.  So think:

  • Keep it interesting.  Eat as many different foods in your meal as is reasonably possible and heightens the taste and enjoyment factor.  Choose different colours and textures.  Make sure to include a mix of protein, high quality carbohydrates and good fats.  Think: wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fruits and spices.
  • Warm is best.  Stoke your digestive fire for your first meal of the day with a warm, cooked meal.
  • Portion size.  Usually the rule of eating until you are 80% full is a useful way to judge the size of your breakfast.  There is no need to skimp as this meal should keep you satisfied until your mid-morning snack.

Some of my favourite Breakfast as an Empress recipes:

  • Millet porridge with the works – Great to cook up while you get showered and ready for the day
    • Add 1/4 cup hulled millet (or brown rice), 1 grated apple, a handful of almonds and your choice of seeds (eg. sunflower, linseed) to a saucepan with 1 cup water.  Boil, then reduce heat to a simmer until no water remains and millet/rice is cooked through.  Serve with a dessert spoon of tahini, a sprinkle of LSA and some fresh berries.
  • Congee with ginger and shallots (and chicken or tofu or egg) – make this one in advance and freeze in portions.
    • Add to a large saucepan: 1 cup of brown rice, 6 cups of water, 1 tablespoon of grated ginger, 6 sliced shallots (white part only), 1 tablespoon soy sauce and optional: 1 whole organic chicken (skinned).  Bring to the boil then simmer covered for 3 hours or until rice is mushy, resembling porridge.  If using chicken, remove bones from the soup.  For the vegetarian version, omit the chicken, now add 1 cup of mashed silken tofu and stir through rice mixture until warmed through or poach an egg and serve on top of the congee.  Top with chopped coriander and sliced green shallots.  I find this recipe is best made in advance and frozen in single serve portions to be quickly reheated as needed.  This is a good winter breakfast to fire up the furnaces.
  • Poached eggs with avocado, tomato and greens – for when you can take your time
    • Poach some eggs, toast some gluten-free or your favourite wholemeal bread.  Top the toast with avocado, a few slices of tomato and some baby spinach.  Garnish with a few basil leaves.
  • Organic muesli with rice, nut or soy milk – A quick fix
    • When you are in a hurry, having some good quality organic muesli on hand can be your saviour.  I like Therapeutic Gourmet’s ‘Get up and Goji’ available from health food stores and the West End Markets.  Serve with warm rice, nut or soy milk.

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, exercise, health, motivational

Being healthy when you’re busy

It’s easy to live a healthy life if you have plenty of time.  Taking your time to cook wholesome food, get enough exercise, practice some meditation and have enough sleep all take time.  Precious time.  Something that many of us seem to have a lot less of than we’d like.

If being time-poor is your reality, then we need to work with the time we have more smartly.  My answer is to make a routine.  It’s just as important to prioritise your ‘you time’ as it to schedule work and family commitments.  You need to book in time to nurture yourself when it suits you or you’ll end up being ill when it isn’t convenient, and that may really throw a spanner in the works at a later time.

‘You time’, as part of a healthy lifestyle, might include any combination of the following: home-cooked healthy food, at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days per week, daily short meditations, a daily stretching routine, weekly relaxation activities such as a bath, massage or facial.  These activities are not just for people with lots of spare time, they should be an essential part of anyone’s lifestyle who wants to feel energetic and healthy (and I’m hoping that’s everyone who’s reading this!)

There are several ways to do this.  The way I have personally found helpful is as follows:

  1. Make a list or timetable of all of the activities you do in a week.  Include work, family, housework, sporting commitments and other activities.  Work out when you have any spare time.  We need to know this so that we can use it wisely rather than flitting it away without valuing it.  You may be surprised when you look at your week on paper.  Perhaps there are some activities you are overdoing and are able to cut back on.
  2. Think of the areas of your health that suffer when you are busy.  Often making home cooked meals gets neglected, as does exercise and relaxation.  Make a note of these.
  3. Find gaps in your current schedule where you can add some of these healthful activities and write them in.  It may be that you can cook a meal on one night/day to provide several lunches and dinners (avoiding the need for unhealthy  takeaway meals).  Perhaps you can find a gap that can allow you to get some incidental exercise, a run or even an exercise class that fits around your current activities.  If relaxation always gets left behind, schedule yourself some time for a DIY facial, bath, meditation, massage or other treatment of your choice.  Remember these activities are important!  Make sure not to fill in all of your spare time.
  4. Write down your new schedule.  Put it somewhere that you can always refer to it.  It doesn’t have to be set in stone but rather something to aim for.  Whether it’s on paper, in your diary, a spreadsheet or your iPhone/iPad do what will work for you.  Some people find that daily lists work, for others a weekly timetable is preferred.

What you have created should help you to know what you have to do each day and what the consequence will be if you don’t get to it  (eg. if I miss cooking a meal to last for a few lunches, I won’t have time to do it later and I’ll have to get takeaway).  This is motivating but also allows for informed choice from week to week as the unforseen will always happen from time-to-time.  So, even though you have a ‘perfect health-promoting schedule’, remain flexible.  Things just don’t go to plan all the time and we don’t want to turn down wonderful opportunities that come our way or get more stressed if we don’t tick everything off our list.   It’s also not locked in for life.  It can come and go as you need it, and be changed as often as required.

This solution won’t work for everyone, but if you are feeling overwhelmed by commitments and they are eating into your ‘you time’, then putting your time on paper is a good place to start.  The important message here is, however you put it into action, when you are busy, looking after yourself is just as important as when you are not.

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.