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ACNJ Blog

Wellness insights from Acupuncture Center of NJ, providing holistic complementary mind-body-heart-healing since 1986, in Morristown, NJ!

Filtering by Tag: Well-Being

Playtime - Activities for an Awesome Life - Part 5

Peter Kadar

Through the new tools that allow the human brain to be studied we now know that play, the spontaneous, pleasurable, non-judgmental exploration of life solo or in company, allows for brain growth at every age.

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Focus Time - Designing and Implementing an Awesome Now - Part 3

Peter Kadar

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Multitasking be gone, or at least reduced significantly. Focus Time, concentrating on one thing for extended periods of time free of interruption or distraction, here we come! The last article in this series of "practices to prepare you for an enjoyable and productive now" was about sleep, and how necessary it is for brain growth. Sleep is not a waste of time! Are you ready for another myth buster? Multitasking does not make you more effective or efficient. Rather, focusing your attention in a continuous way for uninterrupted periods of time, or what Daniel Siegel calls "Focus Time" in his book Brainstorm, encourages the growth of the neural connections your brain makes when it has time to consistently absorb the information you are exposing yourself to. When you allow yourself Focus Time you stimulate brain growth. When you stimulate brain growth you are learning. As you allow your brain to learn you get smarter, not from the information you are exposing yourself to but from the different connections your brain makes in how to utilize that information in different situations under varying circumstances.

Everyone knows that a regime of consistent physical exercise leads to increased fitness of mind and body. The majority of people know the basic guidelines for eating healthy. Everyone knows that non-essential spending that leads to credit card debt is financially unhealthy. Knowing information yet being unable to integrate it into how you live your life isn't all that useful. You feel smart but live dumb. Training your brain to not only absorb information but connect it in ways that make it accessible to live out of is extremely useful. To sum it up, when you provide yourself regular opportunities to focus on one thing at a time for extended periods you optimize changes in your brain that are the basis for not only learning but integrating what you learn into how you live.

There is a tendency to attribute forgetfulness or the inability to retain information to aging. While changes as a result of aging do occur they can be easily confused with the impact of not fully concentrating on what you are doing. When you are not concentrating on new information when you study, where you put down your keys when you come home, what someone is explaining to you, etc. you are interrupting the very conditions that are necessary for turning what you are exposing yourself to into the synaptic changes in the brain that capture that experience into memory. Difficulty with memory may not be from aging at all but from constantly interrupting your brains ability to capture information by, regardless of what you were doing, randomly answering your cell phone, checking your email, the texts coming through, surfing the internet rather unintentionally, etc. The more you interrupt your focus the weaker your brain gets at being able to focus in an uninterrupted manner and retain what it needs to be effective. In a very real way you are scattering, rather than concentrating, your brain's ability to function.

This tendency for information to get scattered and therefore difficult to pull up can be reversed through giving yourself Focus Time. For those of us who are not currently studying in an organized program (college, graduate courses, professional education, etc.) some type of continued lifelong learning supports the brain to get and stay organized and grow again. Some examples of practices that support brain organization and growth are:

  • learning a new skill (to play a musical instrument, an additional language, etc.)
  • a book club
  • a course at your local community adult education center
  • a discussion group
  • reading uninterrupted
  • playing chess
  • making something out of wood, clay, stone, etc.
  • planning a garden

If we do not give ourselves Focus Time on a regular basis (consider a minimum of an hour a day) our brains stop doing what they were born to do, make new connections throughout life. With Focus Time you can not only prevent what we mistakenly think of as the inevitability of aging and "senior moments", you can also help your brain to become more flexible, adaptive, and capable! You can more easily live the information in your brain rather than simply knowing it. The more flexible, adaptive, and capable your thinking, the more you can actually retain, recall, and utilize the information you have been exposed to to creatively design and implement an awesome now.

Post written by Lisa Brick

EMAIL LISA HERE

Founder at Power & Purpose Coaching

Partner: Journey Beyond Divorce Coaching

Lisa Brick Power & Purpose logo

Acupuncture for Winter Blues and Blahs

Peter Kadar

weather-UK-winter-snow-220815 Ahhh … Winter. We have come to fear winter as if it’s a bitter enemy and we are helpless against its onslaught. Short days, long nights, head colds, flu, polar vortex and winter storm warnings, SAD (seasonal affected disorder), holiday and family stress, etc. etc. Unless you’re an avid skier or go to Florida until the spring it seems inevitable that winter will feel burdensome. There's a difference between winter feeling burdensome and actually being burdensome!

We do ourselves a disfavor to curse or ignore the natural onset and experience of the seasons and climate. In order to be well and live a life of full vitality it behooves us to discover a way to embrace and appreciate all four of our seasons. Yes it is cold. Yes it is snowy. Yes it can be downright impossible or dangerous to be out and about. Winter offers us opportunities to be homebodies, to slow down and reflect, plan, and dream.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) therapies have unique and powerful insights and strategies so we can attune to and harmonize with this important and necessary time of year. Acupuncture treatments can strengthen the immune system, promote healthy rest and sleep (yes, you may need to sleep and rest more during the winter months), improve digestion, help control appetite and weight, and stimulate energy and libido (a great way to make a virtue out of the necessity of staying indoors). This is so because acupuncture, particularly with moxibustion and the use of warming and tonifying herbs such as ginseng, evodia, lycii, cinnamon and ginger invigorates the Qi, Blood and Yang to promote vitality, strength to our immune system, digestion, reproductive function and overall energy.

Eastern dietary recommendations, also an integral part of Acupuncture and TCM practice, strongly encourages the consumption of nourishing warming foods such as:

hot beverages, sauteed and roasted vegetables, stews, cooked grains and beans, and organic and humanely raised animal products

to strengthen and protect our core. It also recommends avoiding fried, processed and highly refined foods, chilled and iced drinks, raw salads and cold from the refrigerator fruits.

Ancient Eastern wisdom emphasizes the necessity for rest, quiet, and slowing down during the winter months. It speaks of how the element of Water (winter) creates the impetus for growth and creativity of Wood (spring). This is precisely what goes on biologically within our bodies and psychologically and emotionally within our spirit. Acupuncture is a very powerful tool to open and harmonize the energy flow in ways that make Winter much easier and more pleasant to experience.

Depression, anxiety, low energy and listlessness respond well to Acupuncture and TCM, supporting enjoyment of the winter months and the ability to take advantage of the beauty and peacefulness of this time of year.

In over thirty years of Acupuncture practice I have discovered that the most common causes of patient illness and depression in winter are not bacteria and viruses or snow or darkness but negative attitudes and anxieties. These attitudes are unconsciously shaped by the media and prevalent misunderstandings of winter as blatantly bad, dangerous, undesirable, inconvenient, etc. I recommend that my patients get outside for an hour every day, dressed to enjoy the winter sun, the freshness of the air, the briskness of the cold, and to marvel at the ice and snow.

Build a snowman, go sledding or ice skating, watch the snowfall and gather in drifts, or relax indoors with friends and loved ones in front of a roaring fire. Read, create, daydream! Take advantage of Acupuncture and TCM to embrace the beauty of our natural world at this unique and nurturing time of year!

Downtime - Improving Brain Function + Overall Well-Being - Part 2

Peter Kadar

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Downtime is a necessity for optimal mental functioning during life in general and especially during the rough passages that inevitably arise. Downtime is short periods of time during the day set aside consciously, without goals or objectives.  During downtime there is nothing to do or accomplish of any import whatsoever. The idea of giving ourselves time off from responsibilities and accomplishing goals may sound preposterous when there is so much to do yet this is exactly what the mind needs to unwind and to give the brain space to sort itself out.  This is what downtime is, space to allow our brains to recharge their batteries and reorganize.

We forget that who each one of us is is a community of trillions of cells organized into systems within our bodies.  These cells have individual needs for well-being.  When we ignore those needs we diminish our potential and our ability to be as clear and effective as we can be when we attend to those needs.  Downtime is one of those needs, one often unrecognized and neglected.

Downtime need not be extensive.  Twenty minutes scattered throughout the day in small portions can be sufficient.  Giving yourself conscious permission to:

  • turn away from the computer screen to gaze out the window for a minute,
  • take 10 after a meeting to walk around the block,
  • sit down to savor the warmth and flavor of a cup of tea without your phone or computer for 5,
  • stop whatever you are concentrating on, close your eyes and focus on your breath for a minute, or
  • excuse yourself from whatever to step outside and feel the elements (warmth of the sun, the wet of the rain, or the cold of the wind) on your skin for a few minutes.

The above activities are simple, achievable ways to give yourself downtime during the day. These sample activities, and any others you can think of where you have no goal or objective other than to be and see and feel what is physically around you, are downtime.

Downtime is not spacing out or daydreaming in the middle of a task. A wandering mind is disruptive to accomplishing goals and therefore disruptive to your life.  If you are finding yourself spacing out in the middle of conversations or in the midst of a project your brain is telling you it needs more TLC.  It is not getting the rest and relaxation necessary for it to function effectively.  Among other requirements like sufficient sleep, nourishment, and drinking enough fluids, your brain needs downtime to organize efficiently. Your ability to think creatively, clearly, and effectively will be boosted by inviting your brain to relax for short periods of downtime every day.

Everyone, including you, has the capacity to set aside fifteen or twenty minutes during the day to tune out the hustle and bustle, the necessity to accomplish, the never ending trying to figure out why, when, and how and to let the mind unwind and the brain reintegrate on its own.  By doing so you can reinvigorate yourself and return to your tasks renewed. Try it. You won't know the benefits you are missing out on unless you do.

Post written by Lisa Brick

EMAIL LISA HERE

Founder at Power & Purpose Coaching

Partner: Journey Beyond Divorce Coaching

Lisa Brick Power & Purpose logo