Boosting your immunity and vitality
I hope you are enjoying the beauty of spring that we are seeing around us!
I’m continuing the theme of how you can stay as resilient and safe as possible during this time by boosting your immunity and vitality, taking care of your emotions and ensuring a balanced flow of your qi (energy).
The continued threat of the pandemic naturally stirs up fear, worry and anxiety, which floods our bodies with stress hormones and fires our fight or flight reflexes. This is our body’s alarm and survival mechanism to keep us alert and motivated. It’s usually short-lived, but over time can suppress our immune system by upsetting the balance of our sleep, digestion and heart rate.
In my last post I talked about your Wei qi, which circulates on the exterior/superficial level of the body to protect you and keep the virus (any virus) at the door, preventing it from entering to a deeper level in the body.
Your immunity and vitality are also bolstered by the flow of your Ying (nutritive) qi, which circulates in the interior of the body in the acupuncture channel pathways, with the blood and nourishes all the organs. The Wei and Ying qi are an aspect of our ‘acquired qi’ - that is, energy from what you eat and drink. Ying qi is also, importantly, affected by your thoughts and feelings and how you cope with stress. Therefore, paying attention to our emotions is important and ignoring them can be harmful.
The deepest level of qi in the body relates to your Yuan qi, which is the energy you are born with - your inherited strength, described as your ‘preheaven qi’ in Chinese Medicine. It is about who you are and why you are here, your authentic self! Supporting this energy and avoiding its unregulated use will keep you strong, and support your Wei and Ying qi to get through this difficult time.
Here are some tips to support your energy at all levels in the body to sustain you in these disorientating times.
Reduce stimulation - Wei qi is a filter for everything trying to get in! Turn off the news (just allow 15 mins a day rather than watching it for hours) to reduce the irritation that the input gives; likewise, reduce your sensory input by turning down lights earlier in evening, turning down volume of music or tv, and reducing time spent on screens.
Grounding – when possible get your bare feet on natural surfaces! Walk on grass if you have a garden, or any natural surface such as a wooden floor. Soaking your feet in Epsom salts at the end of the day will bring Wei qi back into the body to be strengthened overnight ready for the next day.
Deep breathing and making a sound as you breathe out will help to release pent up emotions and stress (thereby supporting your Ying qi). Breathe in through your nose and as you exhale, make a noise such as a groan, a moan, a yell - any noise which will help you to let go and your energy to flow. NOTE: Breath work is important for all levels of qi! Belly breathing is also good for letting go – here you breathe deeply to your hands resting on your lower abdomen (below belly button) and as you exhale, release all the air in your lungs so there is no breath left and then open up to allow air to come in naturally and fill the lungs.
Moving and shaking your body is another way to discharge emotions and circulate your blood (and Ying qi)! If you don’t like the idea of shaking, try dancing (rather than gentle yoga and stretching) to feel less trapped in emotional distress.
Be creative - a lot of you are creative! Find your creative way to express your emotions - paint, draw, craft, garden, sing, or make something. These activities can stop us becoming static, and can be very enjoyable. I am so pleased that I have persevered with my goal to paint for at least 20 mins a day. The first few days were difficult but now I really look forward to it. It totally absorbs me and I feel a tranquillity when I am doing it.
Cultivate stillness to get to a place of centredness and peace. This will connect with your Yuan qi, and can be powerful and transformative! Practice meditation if you are up for it – I use an app on my phone called Calm which has many different meditations on it and instructions on how to meditate. If meditation does not appeal try just sitting quietly in a place you like - sit against tree, or embrace a beautiful view, or listen to water flowing.
Have fun! Make time for relaxing activities, enjoyable hobbies and laughter in any way you can and enjoy having more time for all those things we never get around to doing. Be present and playful!
I hope these tips are interesting and useful and bring some hope and stillness to this drama.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Be well, stay safe!