I have been treated with acupuncture for stress, depression, or anxiety with sleep difficulties. How can I best take care of myself at home after an acupuncture visit?
In Chinese medicine, both physical and emotional problems stem from disharmonies and imbalances between “yin and yang”. To support the treatment at home, patients are advised to practice some form of traditional Chinese exercises or mediation, like Qi Gong and Tai Ji Quan. One particular benefit of these exercises, among the many reasons to do them, is that they can be practiced virtually anywhere, at home, in an office, outside, and even while travelling. An example sequence that patients can use as a foundation for this kind of practice is outlined here. 1) Start in a standing position with the feet apart, with the body relaxed and the mind quieted. Regulate the breath to be even and steady. 2) Slowly lift both arms up in front of the head with palms up. 3) Slowly push the arms down with palms turned down and knees bent, and lower the upper body. 4) Next, slowly lift the arms up with palms turned up, and straighten the upper body. 5) Return to step 2. 6) Follow the above process to regulate breathing, exhale while slowly lifting the arms up in front of head and inhale while slowly pushing palms down. 7) Repeat these steps for about 5 minutes.
Another option for self-care is a kind of abdominal massage coupled with a meditative state. 1) Begin by laying on the bed, loosening any belt you may have on. Allow your body to relax, and gently quiet your mind. 2) Place one hand on top of the other, and put the palms on the lower abdomen. 3) Using the palms, rub in a circular manner 10 to 15 times per minute, for 10 to 20 minutes. The direction of the circle, left or right, is up to you, either is fine. Apply very gentle and slight pressure, and keep the motion steady and moderate. As you get started with this technique, it is fine to practice for a shorter amount of time, starting with two or three minutes less than you will eventually build to. As you continue with the practice over the course of a number of days, slowly increase the amount of time you are practicing, until you are doing the technique for 15 to 20 minutes per evening. It may take a week or two to be comfortable doing this massage for that amount of time. 4) Slightly close your eyes, and focus your concentration on your hands and lower abdomen. Keep your concentration focused like this as you rub your hands in a circle over the lower abdomen. 5) It is very important that you only practice this technique in the evening, in bed, before going to sleep. If you find yourself becoming drowsy and drifting off to sleep as you practice, it means that you have reached a good place to end for the evening, and the practice is finished. 6) Only practice when you are calm, quiet, and relaxed. In general, it is best not to try to force yourself to do this technique when you are busy or stressed. Allow yourself time to relax and be still before beginning the practice. This is not simply a task to be accomplished that you must force yourself to do every day, so be flexible with when and how you choose to practice it.