“I’m just so tired all the time”, my 34-year-old patient explains. “No matter how much sleep I get. And when I wake up, my whole body just aches. Man, it sucks getting old. You’ll understand one day”.
And I reply, “Yea, actually I’m 37.”
And her wild blue eyes bug out of her head. She’s speechless. Then, she recovers, with “Wow, you look exactly like my 21 year old niece”.
“It’s the acupuncture”, I tell her.
Which is partly true. I do get monthly acupuncture treatments to keep me feeling good, but there’s more to it than that. I’m a female entrepreneur, single-handedly running a busy acupuncture clinic. I spend long days taking care of other people, and through it all it’s essential that I exude radiant health and a calm demeanor. It’s important to me to be a good example for my patients. Here’s how I do it.
1. I cook almost all my meals from scratch.
Once a week I sit down, decide on my meals for the week, and make a grocery store run. I’d love to say that I spend my Saturdays roaming the farmer’s market for local, organic produce – but who has time for that? I buy organic when I can, and stay away from anything that has more than a few ingredients in it. Then I cook several big meals that I can easily heat up and bring to work with me to eat between patients. This saves time and money, and I can be sure that what I’m putting in my body is healthy.
2. I coddle my digestive and immune systems.
These two systems are inter-related – and having a healthy gut directly impacts your immunity. So I make an effort to include a cultured food or drink with each meal, like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, yogurt or miso (and supplement with a multi-strain probiotic). I use bone broth in my soups, stews, sauces, and to cook grains in (and sometimes supplement with grass fed gelatin). And finally, I take cod liver oil during cold and flu season for an extra immune boost.
3. I make sleep a priority.
No matter what happens during the day, I take bedtime very seriously. A warm shower, my sleepy tea blend (chamomile, lemon balm, passionflower, skullcap and a pinch of lavender buds) and a good book lull me off to sleep – for a full eight hours most nights.
4. I meditate on the daily – and hourly.
Staying cool and collected is kinda in my job description, so I make a point to sit for 10 minutes every morning and just focus on my breath. Taking this short amount of time to sit and do nothing helps remind me what it feels like to be still and calm. In addition, I take 30 second mini breaks throughout the day to breathe, tune in to my body, and release any tension. I use the time while I’m washing my hands (which I have to do MANY times every day), but you could use any other trigger, like a cell phone buzz, to remind you to check in with your body.
5. I’m not perfect, and don’t beat myself up over it.
I have healthy habits set up that keep me feeling pretty decent most of the time, but it’s also important for me to enjoy life. So I’ll have that piece of cake and ice cream at a birthday party. I also go out to eat a once or twice a week and get what I want; even if’s not always “healthy”, washing it down with a glass of wine or two. Occasionally, I even take an entire day to “de-frag” and sit on the couch reading or watching Netflix. And I don’t feel guilty about it because I know I function better after a little down time.
While there’s no single recipe to life that will keep everybody happy and healthy, I hope that sharing mine will give you a few ideas and some inspiration.
What is your recipe for staying happy, healthy and sane? Share it with us in the comments below.
Elizabeth Allen is an acupuncturist in Greenville, South Carolina, specializing in pain management, women’s health, and psycho-emotional issues. She’s passionate about helping people feel their best and sharing her wealth of knowledge with the community. Elizabeth is the owner of AcuMed Spa, on Wade Hampton Boulevard. Appointments can be made by calling 864-451-4313, or scheduled online here.