Tag: Chinese herbal tea

A group of things to hint about what 10 ways you can make watching tv a healthier habit - a candle, a ball, a water bottle, a cup of tea, a mortar and pestal and a box of recipes

10 Ways to Make Watching TV a Healthier Habit

Six Feet Under, This is Us, Parenthood, Mad Men, TransParent, Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad… Is it just me or has TV just gotten skillfully entertaining lately?

If you’re like me, you love TV or movies, but you worry that you could be using that time in a more productive manner.  Your concern makes watching TV a guilty pleasure and not an enjoyable, relaxing event.  Look, I get you – there are MUCH MORE important things to be doing with your time.  It’s true.  But remember, the more rested, relaxed and rejuvenated you are, the more energy you have to advocate for your favorite cause and the more excitement you can devote to self-improvement.

TV isn’t only bad news.  Really good TV shows and movies can:

  • Educate us
  • Inspire us
  • Unite us for a specific cause
  • Improve us (My massive celebrity crush on Jillian Michaels does, on occasion, succeed in getting me to the gym when I’m feeling unmotivated.)
  • Challenge our current perspective
  • Console us
  • Relax us
  • And so much more…

In smaller doses, it can be a therapeutic activity.  Great.  So, why is it so bad to watch TV?

Well, it is a sedentary hobby.  There are also those times when you get sucked in and do not move from the couch for 3 days until the end of your Harry Potter binge…

Okay, look – if you’re watching TV all day and never socializing or moving, nothing will make this a healthy habit.  Sorry to disappoint.  If you’re not sleeping well, not eating well, never exercising and never visiting with friends or family, there is only so much that any professional can do to help.  At some point, you must take responsibility for your health.  No one can do that for you.  Even the health-oriented routines in my 10 suggestions below won’t make up for living a healthy lifestyle, but they may start you down that path.

In the meantime, if you’ve created a routine around relaxing to the news or a well-scripted TV show in the evening, let that time be your reminder of the healthy routines you would like to create.  It’s a simple hack – use your less healthy routines to develop structure around a new beneficial groove.

Rather than consider my sedentary evening routine an unhealthy endeavor, I’ve decided to make watching TV a part of my health regime.  This is how you can do it with me!  Choose 1 or 2 of these suggestions to adopt during the first 10 – 30 minutes of watching TV or create some of your own.

So, let’s dig into this together! Here are 10 Ways to Make Watching TV a Healthier Habit!

  1. Self-massage – Give yourself a foot massage or a neck massage. Regular self-massage relaxes the muscles and tissues.  Frequent foot massages can help your feet age gracefully and may prevent knee, hip and lower back issues, and they feel great!  Use a foam roller, tennis ball, thera-cane or tens unit if you like or if you have been encouraged to do so by a healthcare practitioner.  Oh, and try this – put two tennis balls in a sock and tie it shut.  Now place each tennis ball on either side of the spine.  Roll this device up and down your spine.  Use it in your hips and glutes, or any other place that aches.
  2. Herbal Tea – Herbal teas relax the nervous system after a long day. Depending on your choice of herbs, they boost the immune system, support the respiratory system, improve blood flow in the body, and so much more.  Choosing one herbal tea to drink each evening can be a fun and rewarding process.  If you’d like to drink a medicinal herbal tea, set up an herbal consultation with Light & Dark Acupuncture.
  3. Exercise – Many people feel that their exercise routine goes by more quickly and less painfully if they’re watching a movie on the treadmill. Some individuals avoid this, citing the need to be present with their workout so they can push harder and reap larger benefits.  If gym TV watching isn’t your style, perhaps you could knock out a few crunches during the first 15 minutes of your favorite TV show.  Or push ups.  Or burpees.  Never mind – scratch that – burpees are torture.
  4. Breathing Exercises – Any individual with asthma should consider this an important routine to develop. Breathing exercises assist a host of respiratory disorders, but whose got time to sit and breathe for 20 or 30 minutes?!  If you’re struggling to find the time to practice breathing exercises, commit to doing it for the first 10 minutes of your T.V. time each night.  Set a reminder in your phone if you need help remembering.  You can breathe and count while the scenes from the last episode play.  The drama won’t get good enough to cause gasping for several minutes, so you’re set.
  5. Stretch – My grandpa used to lay on the floor every night after dinner with his hand on his stomach. I remember joining him a couple times.  If you keep your floor clean, laying on it can feel quite relaxing.  You can twist into yoga poses or focus on extending through specific muscles that feel tight.  This is also that time to do the “10 stretches that will cure your psoas and piriformis pain!” or any other specific therapeutic stretches you’ve found.  If you suffer from any kind of pain, look up specific stretches for that type of pain, or get some suggestions from your acupuncturist, chiropractor, doctor, physical therapist or other professional.  Countless clients struggle to remember to do their therapeutic stretches daily.  Use TV time as a reminder to do them!  After a couple weeks, you’ll stop thinking, “I can’t wait to zone out and watch TV,” and starting thinking, “I can’t wait to lay down and stretch out while I watch my show!”
  6. Healthy Snack – Snacking is not the right suggestion for everyone. However, if you’re someone who lacks healthy vegetables and fruits in their diet, or doesn’t get enough protein or healthy fats, committing to a healthy snack as you enjoy your routine movie time is a great idea.  Healthy snacks can indeed be delicious– veggies and hummus, steamed purple cabbage with cinnamon and oregano (you won’t regret it), avocado with lime, salt and curry powder.  They take a little prep time, but if you need to create a habit of eating healthy, you can use this already-created “TV time” routine to remind you that it is “healthy snack time.”
  7. Drink Water – Yep. I said it. So did your mom.  And your friend.  And some random person who overheard you saying something at the grocery store.  It’s true, drinking water is good for you.  I don’t think we need to argue this.  But getting into a pattern of doing it regularly can be challenging.  Let’s make it easier! Get a large water bottle and fill it up before your show.  Put a rubber band around the outside of the water bottle.  Each time you drink, move the rubber band down to the level that the water is at.  This way you can see from the outside of your bottle exactly how much is left.  Finish the bottle.  Fill up another one if you have the bladder for it.  During each commercial break look at your bottle to see where your water line is and gauge if you’re meeting your goal!
  8. Laugh – Well, this one’s a no brainer. Laughter really is the best medicine for almost anything.  It masks physical pain, frustration, anxiety, heartache – whatever your ailment.  The benefit may be temporary, but it is potent medicine nonetheless.  “Laughter stretches and relaxes the linings of your arteries, allowing blood to flow freely.” (Harrar, Sari, Pearson & Victoria, 2013).  So, watch a funny show or movie.  Find one that specifically fits your sense of humor and stick with it til the end.
  9. Cuddle – Physical connection fosters empathy and bonding and it is also great for the heart.  Oxytocin is known as “the cuddle hormone” because it is released during skin-to-skin contact.  It reduces blood pressure and relaxes the nervous system’s response to stress (“Oxytocin Hormone Benefits and Side Effects,” n.d.).  Hold someone you love because it’s heart healthy! You know what might be even better than cuddling with a chosen human?  Cuddling with a furry, warm pet.  If you’ve got one of the cuddly pet types, now is your moment.
  10. Relax – You can do one or all the self-improvement-oriented suggestions above, but don’t forget to take some time to relax. Life is moving at a fast pace and we are doing our best to keep up with it.  Sometimes we need a break, and it’s okay to take one.  So, after you’ve worked out and stretched and given yourself a neck massage, just relax and get lost in the explorative world of arts and entertainment.

So, a quick disclaimer – be sure to use your brain and a little discretion if you’re going to take this advice.  There’s a diverse group of people reading this blog and not every one of these suggestions will work for each of them.  If you can’t reach your feet, don’t try to give yourself a foot massage.  If you can’t get up off the floor, you probably shouldn’t lay on it to stretch.  If you wake 13 times per night to urinate, don’t drink a jug of water before bed.  If you tend to have issues with overeating or emotional eating, maybe snacking is not your jam – I like puns.  Don’t hate on my puns.  If you’re six feet under, you can’t do breathing exercises, so that’s out.

Being “healthy” is not about being the best at every health goal.  It’s about doing the best you can with what you’ve got.  It’s about doing just one new thing each day to ensure your longevity.  It’s about figuring out what works for you, what motivates you, and using that to reach your goals. So, find the health and fitness goals that resonate with you. Use the routine that you have already created around television to build a routine around your goals for wellness.  Before you even close this article, set cell phone reminders or alarm clocks to hold yourself accountable, in case you forget everything you just read the second you close it.

Cheers to your process and best wishes in your health journey!

References

Harrar, Sarí, Pearson & Victoria (2013). “30 Days to a Healthier Heart.” Prevention. 00328006, Vol. 65, Issue 2. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?sid=1730cd10-abd8-4775-b3da-f01f71287ae1%40sessionmgr102&vid=20&hid=115&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=87376499&db=awh

Sahelian, Ray. (n.d.). “Oxytocin Hormone Benefits and Side Effects.” Retrieved from: http://www.birthingandbreastfeeding.com/uploads/5/5/3/2/5532100/oxytocin_and_bonding.pdf

Blue light forming text on a black background that says, "Conscious Body Movement."

Herbal Medicine & the Common Cold, Hot Flashes, Vitamins & Supplements, and of course… Tap Dance!

In this interview, fitness trainer Greg Dyer (no relation – but he has a great last name!) interviews Light & Dark Acupuncturist & Herbalist, Molly Dyer about treatment of the common cold.  Dyer explains the reason why Chinese herbal formulas can powerfully kick out colds and flu at any stage.

The two discuss another topic as well – the over-consumption of vitamins and supplements.  We’re not talking about taking a few supplements on a daily basis, here.  We’re referring to those who take handfuls of vitamins and supplements and even herbs.  Healthy or hurtful? What do you think?

And let’s just be honest – any discussion would be incomplete without turning towards tap dance and its healthy effect on mental, physical and social well-being. What does this have to do with acupuncture and herbology?  Find out in the following episode of Conscious Body Movement, the podcast!

Ginger tea with lemon and honey on slate plate

Herbal Teas & Pregnancy

Here it is – that huge step. You have learned that you are pregnant. You’re hungry. You look into your fridge for something to snack on and think, “wait, can I eat that?  Spicy foods might be bad for the baby.  French fries might be bad for the baby. Ice cream is definitely bad for the baby, right? What can I eat? What should I avoid eating?” And then you do it. You google things.

Google has lots of info on do’s and don’ts in pregnancy – as do the many authors, thinkers, doctors, healers, parents, teachers and concerned individuals that fill its pages. You can find pretty much anything there, including completely conflicting information.

It is the conflicting information, the uncertainty, that sends parents-to-be to me asking questions about what kinds of Chinese herbs they can consume while they are pregnant.  It is generally understood that some herbal teas do wonders for pregnant people, while others are on the stay-as-far-away-as-possible, do-not-touch-my-baby list. It is wonderful to see parents delve passionately into educating themselves on what is healthy and what is unsafe for their babies.

Is it Beneficial to Use Chinese Herbal Medicine in Pregnancy?

Herbs have been studied and observed synergistically and bio-chemically for years.  We know a lot about the effects of many herbs.  There are hundreds of herbal compendiums that are thousands of pages deep.  So, when pregnant people come to me concerned about the possibility of herbs causing problems in their pregnancy, overwhelmed by the confusing mumbo jumbo (both good and bad) they’ve encountered on the internet, it is my absolute privilege to tell them the following guidelines to the use of herbal medicine in pregnancy:

  1. Herbal medicine is wonderful for pregnancy when properly prescribed. We have witnessed successful herbal treatment during pregnancy for thousands of years.
  2. It can help with all kinds of things; headaches, aches and pains, insomnia, morning sickness, and many other challenges experienced while growing a living being inside you for 9 months!
  3. There are even a few Chinese herbs that are particularly beneficial to the baby. We say that these herbs “calm the baby,” a somewhat poetic description of their ability to keep in check certain out-of-balance systems in a pregnant individual so that the baby can comfortably thrive in its temporary home.  Most of the formulas I create during pregnancy involve one or two of these herbs.
  4. If you see a qualified herbalist (or in my case, Chinese Herbalist) who you trust, you can drink yummy herbal teas throughout your pregnancy.  You will not have to root through all the information about what herbs to seek out and which ones to avoid. That’s why you have a professional – to keep you and the baby safe and healthy.

Are There Herbs that are Unsafe to Consume in Pregnancy?

Quite honestly – yes, there are absolutely herbs that are dangerous in pregnancy when given at a medicinal dose.  Some of these herbs are uterine stimulants, which means they are the type of herb that may promote labor.  Some of them are what we call “blood movers” in Chinese medicine.  A blood mover is an herb that helps blood flow uninhibited through the vessels.  These herbs tend to be acrid, bitter and warm.  Those that are bitter have a downward flow, and during pregnancy, we want to avoid that downward flow, particularly in individuals with a history of miscarriage.  A qualified herbalist will know which herbs to avoid in pregnancy, including blood movers, uterine stimulants and others.

You may hear herbalists say to avoid most herbal teas in the first trimester of pregnancy.  It is true that there are some herbs worth avoiding, but there is one area that herbal tea is a tried and true advantage for first trimester parents-to-be.

…Enter Morning Sickness.

Morning sickness is a common effect of pregnancy in the first trimester, which can be quite unpleasant.  One formula historically used to treat morning sickness is called Ju Pi Zhu Ru Tang (Tangerine Peel and Bamboo Shavings Decoction).  It came from a text called Jin Gui Yao Lue, which is translated as Essentials from the Golden Cabinet, nearly 1,800 years ago!  Its effect is so beneficial in treating morning sickness that it is still used today, over 1,000 years after its creation.

This formula is not right for every individual who experiences morning sickness.  A Chinese herbalist is trained to observe each person’s signs, symptoms and unique constitution in order to craft an informed diagnosis.  If your diagnosis matches that which Ju Pi Zhu Ru Tang treats, then this formula will be chosen for you.  If your diagnosis does not match, then Ju Pi Zhu Ru Tang will likely not be very much help for your morning sickness, so your herbalist may pick another well-known formula that better fits your needs.

Is It Safe to Use Chinese Herbs in Pregnancy?

In short, YES.  You can safely enjoy the benefits of herbal medicine before, during and after pregnancy.  However, since you can find anything, literally anything, on the internet about herbs, so please do not let this become solely a google- or mommy-blog-informed project.  Gain what insight you can from the internet and then, you must speak with a qualified professional – one that you know that you can trust.

Who is a Qualified Herbalist?

So how do you know who is qualified?  My recommendation is to search for an NCCAOM Board Certified Chinese Herbalist.  This information is commonly found in the biography on a Chinese Herbalist’s website.

There are literally no regulations for prescribing herbs or supplements, so any ole schwindler, or even an avid researcher with great intentions can consider themselves to be an herbalist.  It is not illegal for someone who has read a lot about herbs to set up shop and charge for herbal consultations.

NCCAOM Board certified herbalists have completed both a Master’s degree and a harrowing board examination, thus proving themselves capable of rigorous self-study and experienced from hours of clinical internship practice.  These individuals have been around herbs and have been supervised by skilled herbalists.  They have real-world experience and training in herbalism.

I have nothing against those who have not completed a program like this; I simply cannot vouch for their education.  So, if you’re considering hiring one, please ask them –

  • What is your herbal training?
  • How many hours did you spend learning this?
  • Did you go through an institution? An apprenticeship? A library?
  • How many years have you practiced?
  • How many patients have you seen?
  • Have you treated pregnant women with herbs before?

It may feel off-putting to ask such detailed questions, but since there is no regulation telling you about a person’s experience, you’re going to have to advocate for yourself.  And you can do it, even if it’s challenging, because it is so worth it!

On a side note, I apologize for not knowing the equivalent credentials for a Western herbalist – please do feel free to comment on this in the comment section if you know about Western herbalism, as that is not my training, nor my specialty.

Yes! Please Enjoy Some Herbal Tea!

Beyond assisting comfort in pregnancy, herbs are filled healthy, nourishing vitamins and minerals that are great for the parent and child.  Drinking an herbal tea each evening can be a warm and relaxing habit to begin while facing the steep rewards and challenges of pregnancy.  Teas are delicious, nutritious, and soothing to the spirit. So, seek out a qualified herbalist to assist you – but go ahead and do it! Drink some herbal tea for you and the baby!


To learn more about Light & Dark Acupuncture herbal consultations, visit this page, or book online today at www.lightanddarkacu.com.

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