Categories > Stress Relief

Mindfulness and Neuroplasticity

What is Neuroplasticity

90% of the Brain’s activity occurs beneath conscious awareness. Even though it may seem that we have control over how we think, feel & behave, we often get swept away by strong emotion & react in ways that automatically occur out of unconscious habit. 

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change & grow. The brain is continually reshaped by our life experiences & our thoughts. How we focus our awareness determines which networks in the brain become strong & which ones become weak & lost.

Mindfulness & Neuroplasticity

So the more we worry, the better we become at worrying. But if we practice being calm, clear & focused, then we increase our capacity to settle our mind & nervous system. This allows us to take information in with more clarity, accuracy & objectivity, enabling us to manage challenging situations more skilfully.

When we cultivate our mindfulness skills, we still experience negative feelings, but mindfulness actually rewires the brain and strengthens the neural pathways for resilience. It helps us to be less reactive to stressors, to manage and recover more quickly from stress, and to decrease the negative impacts of chronic stress on our bodies. 

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

MBSR is an intensive 8-week, once weekly, group program developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and associates at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. It is now an internationally acclaimed program with a growing body of research supporting its psycho-physiological benefits. 

It is also used as a standard in studies researching the benefits of Mindfulness, including (but not limited to) reduction of inflammation and stress, and increase in immunity. 

Through practical training in mindfulness, cognitive behavioural and self-regulation skills, participants learn to cultivate a different relationship with stress and to develop skillful and healthy strategies in response to challenging situations. 

Upcoming Program

Monday evenings
Sep 12 – Nov 14

Join us for this fall’s 9-week program with Hannah Marsh and Dr. Alda Ngo, who are both Certified MBSR Facilitators with the Centre for Mindfulness Studies.

This will be a highly interactive web-based program using Zoom.

REGISTER HERE

WHEN

Mandatory Orientation:
Monday, September 12th
5:45 – 8:30pm PT | 6:45 – 9:30pm MT

8 weekly classes:
Mondays, Sep 19 – Nov 14 (No class October 31)
5:45 – 8:15pm PT | 6:45 – 9:15pm MT

Day of Mindfulness Retreat:
Sunday, Oct 30
8:30am – 1:30pm PT | 9:30am-2:30pm MT

WHO

This psycho-educational program is suitable for anyone looking for practical tools to deal with chronic stress and its negative impacts on the body as well as to improve their overall health and well-being.

COST 

Sliding Scale* $325 – $400 – 475 + GST

*Please pay more, if you can, to help support those less able to pay.

Accessibility is important to us, scholarships are also available to those for whom cost is a barrier.
Please contact us for more information: hannah@beinghere.ca

Cancellation policy

Cancellations received prior to the first session (Sep 19th) will be refunded minus a $100 processing fee. No refunds will be issued after that date. 

We reserve the right to cancel this program due to unforeseen circumstances; if this should occur, registrants will be granted full refunds.

REGISTER HERE

Registration Deadline: Monday, September 5th

How To Ease Post-Weaning Depression

Catherine’s Story

After 2 full years of nursing my daughter, I finally felt ready to let go of this intimate stage of our relationship. We prepared her for months and used the book Booby Moon by Yvette Reid (highly recommended!)

When the moment was right, we let the milk magic fly back up to grandmother moon, so that other babies can have milk. It was a beautiful process.

And then, about 3 days after our last milk, I felt uncontrollably weepy. I was happy about the transition and excited to have my bodily autonomy back, but I just couldn’t stop crying.

Luckily, I was expecting this – when I researched what to expect with weaning, I found something surprising that I have never heard of- post weaning depression.

What is Post-Weaning Depression

During the nursing relationship with our children, our body is awash with oxytocin – the love hormone.

Not only do we lose a piece of our identity and a special phase with our child when we wean, but we also lose the plethora of feel good oxytocin that has been rushing through our systems.

Typically, post weaning depression doesn’t last long, but it is very helpful to be prepared.

How to Ease Post-Weaning Depression

To help ease through this transition, anything that boosts oxytocin will help. (‘feel good’ sensation in your body)

Also, any time there is a transition, it helps to incorporate some kind of ceremony to mark the rite of passage to help bring closure to the spiritual / emotional aspect of the change.

Here are some things that I did that helped to ease the sadness of weaning:

♡ tons of extra cuddles with my toddler

♡ extra cuddles with my husband and my cats

♡ I offered some of my milk back to the earth in thanks for this amazing resource

♡ I took my expired freezer stash and had a beautiful milk bath with flowers and candles and let myself experience the full range of emotions

♡ I didn’t suppress any of the emotions and instead allowed myself to experience them fully

♡ gave everyone in my life a heads up that I am experiencing depression

♡ acupuncture -helps boost oxytocin and helps to rebalance and bring a sense of calm

Did you experience post weaning depression? What helped you through it?

Contact us for more information on how we can support you on your wellness journey through fertility, parenthood and beyond.

image: @ashleyrandlephotography

Whole Family on CBC Radio

Listen to Whole Family Health’s Dr. Alda Ngo and Dr. Caitlin Dunne from PCRM speaking to Canadian Infertility Awareness Week 2022.

From CBC RadioActive: This Saturday, a virtual event is taking place to help those struggling to have children. Dr. Caitlin Dunne is a Reproductive Endocrinologist, and Co-Director of the Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine, and Dr. Alda Ngo is a Doctor of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture. They will be bringing their expertise on infertility to the discussion and join us to tee up the event.

For more information on how we can support you on your fertility journey, please contact us for a free 15-minute Q&A Consultation.

Devonee’s Story

In honour of Canadian Infertility Awareness Week 2022, Whole Family Health friend and client shares her fertility story – 5 years in to her fertility journey she is still navigating with grace.

Thank you so much to Devonee, our sweet, courageous and generous #1in6 friend, for sharing your fertility journey and heart in honour of #CIAW2022.

Thank you for giving voice to the experience of infertility to help de-stigmatize and normalize the conversation around infertility.

Follow Devonee on her Instagram @ivfgotyou 💚💚💚

For more information on how we can support you on your fertility journey, feel free to contact us for a free 15-minute Q&A Consultation!

The Research On Acupuncture For IVF

Acupuncture has become a commonly sought out resource for people going through IVF fertility treatment.

When you see a Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner for fertility support, they take more into account than just your reproductive organs. Your practitioner looks at your whole body and how the interconnected systems may be out of balance to support your entire body and self. Treatments are specific to each person’s needs.

Whole system Traditional Chinese Medicine (WS-TCM) can include acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, dietary support, advice on supplementation with nutraceuticals, and lifestyle support. 

Whole System Chinese Medicine Acupuncture and IVF Research

In a 2015 retrospective cohort study published in Reproductive Biomedicine Online, 1231 IVF patient records were reviewed to assess the effects of adjuvant WS-TCM on IVF outcomes compared among three groups:

  1. people who had Whole Systems TCM treatment with IVF (WS-TCM group)
  2. people who had 1 acupuncture treatment on the day of embryo transfer with IVF (acu-group)
  3. people who had no additional treatment with IVF (usual care group)

Among 1069 non-donor cycles reviewed, the WS-TCM group was associated with greater odds of live birth (61.3%) compared with the acu-group (50.8%) and the usual care group (48.2%).

There was also a lower rate of spontaneous miscarriages in the WS-TCM group compared with the other 2 groups. However there was no significant difference between the three groups in terms of biochemical or ectopic pregnancies.

Among 162 donor cycles, WS-TCM was associated with increased live births at 85.7%, compared with 59% in the acu-group and 62.5% in the usual care group.

This study shows a correlation between an increased number of acupuncture treatments (11-12 treatments) and greater odds of live birth. This suggests that a combined approach of WS-TCM treatment before starting IVF with the two treatments on the day of embryo transfer acupuncture may be an optimal intervention to improve IVF birth outcomes in addition to stress reduction.

Increased Acupuncture Dose Improves Effectiveness

Other studies also suggest that an increased acupuncture dose is consistent with the effectiveness of improved fertility outcomes: 

  • A 1996 study demonstrated that Uterine blood flow was improved with eight electro-acupuncture sessions (2). 

  • A 2009 prospective clinical trial consisting of 9 electro-acupuncture sessions plus embryo transfer day acupuncture were correlated with an increase in serum cortisol and prolactin and improved IVF outcomes (3). 

  • A 2011 Randomized Controlled Trial that consisted of 14 sessions of low-frequency electro-acupuncture significantly reduced androgens and improved menstrual frequency over physical exercise or no treatment in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). (4)

  • A 2013 Randomized Controlled Trial shows positively induced ovulation in people with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) with 24 visits over 3 months. (5) 

Acupuncture On Embryo Transfer Day

I would be remiss not to mention that in 2014 there was one randomized control trial finding live births were lower in the IVF plus acupuncture group compared with the control group that had IVF with no other intervention (8). 

Researchers suspect that the location of treatment offsite from the IVF centre may have contributed to this finding.

Furthermore, initial randomized controlled trials published in 2002 and 2006 found that acupuncture improved IVF pregnancy rates compared to IVF alone (9, 10). 

The 2002 study found that having 1 acupuncture treatment before embryo transfer and one acupuncture treatment after embryo transfer was associated with 42.5% pregnancies, whereas pregnancy rates in the control group (no acupuncture) only had a 26.3% pregnancy rate (9).

The 2006 study compared 3 groups (10):
1. people who received acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer (ACU 1 group)
2. people who received acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer and again two days later (ACU 2 group)
3. people who received no acupuncture (control group)

Clinical pregnancy rates were 13% and 10% higher in the ACU 1 and ACU 2 groups respectively compared to the control group (10). 

It’s also consistent with the previously mentioned studies cited above (1,2,3,4,5), that only having acupuncture surrounding the embryo transfer is not as effective in increasing live birth outcomes when compared to increased dose of acupuncture treatments.

Acupuncture For Fertility Stress

Receiving acupuncture not only helps IVF outcomes but it has also been associated to help reduce stress and anxiety in patients undergoing IVF. This stress reduction was demonstrated in two randomized control trials published in 2009 and 2012 (6,7). Both studies showed that acupuncture on or around day of embryo transfer does significantly reduce stress in IVF patients. 

In Conclusion

In conclusion, there is evidence that having acupuncture surrounding an IVF cycle is beneficial but having a whole system Chinese medicine approach starting prior to an IVF cycle is more effective and associated with greater chances of achieving a pregnancy and live birth. 

For more information on how we can support your fertility journey, feel free to contact us for a free 15-minute Q & A consultation.

References

  1. PMID: 25911598 
  2. PMID: 8671446 
  3. PMID: 19118825 
  4. PMID: 20943753
  5. PMID: 23482444 
  6. PMID: 18314118 
  7. PMID: 22499825  
  8. PMID: 24937975 
  9. PMID: 11937123 
  10. PMID: 16600232 

It Takes Two: Sperm-Related Infertility

When it comes to enhancing fertility, it is so important for both partners to be involved in the process of optimizing their overall health.

Often we only see one partner at our clinic seeking specialized care in order to optimize their fertility. However, optimal fertility takes more than just one person. Statistically, sperm-related infertility contributes to upwards of 40% of infertility cases (1). 

Sperm Parameters On The Decline

The quality of sperm has been taking a downward trend for decades. For example, in 1992, the average amount of normal sperm morphology (shape) was at 15% (2). Today, The World Health Organization considers normal sperm morphology to be at 4% – implying that it is normal that 96% of sperm do not develop and mature optimally.

A meta-analysis study published in 2017 cites that among 43,000 people in North America, Europe, New Zealand and Australia – sperm counts per mL of semen had declined by more than 50% between 1973 to 2011. Furthermore, total sperm counts were down by almost 60% (3).

Reasons for Worldwide Decline In Sperm Health

A recent 2020 review suggests that lifestyle changes, pollution, environmental/work factors, the increased use of electronic equipment, and dietary factors contribute to the quality of sperm (4). A high BMI, smoking, drugs, and STI’s can also contribute to the decline. Fortunately, studies show that regular acupuncture treatments, as well as lifestyle, and education changes can increase chances of conception. 

Acupuncture Improves Sperm Health

Fertility and Sterility published a comparative study (2005) with 40 participants with low sperm counts, poor motility (movement), and poor morphology (development)(5). 28 of the participants received acupuncture twice weekly, for five weeks. The data showed a significant increase in normal sperm morphology and total motility in the group receiving the acupuncture treatments. The study concluded that acupuncture could benefit one with infertility factors by improving sperm quality.

In a 2008 randomized controlled trial, 231 candidates with oligospermia (low sperm count) and asthenospermia (reduced motility) were divided into three groups (6): the first group received a 3+ point protocol with electroacupuncture, the second group was supplemented with Chinese herbs, while the third group received both electro acupuncture and herbal treatment. The outcome measures were semen density, vitality, and acrosomal enzyme activity. The effective rate of increase in these measures for groups one and two were 67.6% and 68.3% respectively. But with with the combination treatments in group three, there was a significant increase in effectiveness of 84.6%   

A 2003 prospective controlled and blind study researched the use of acupuncture as an adjunct to moxibustion therapies in patients with abnormal semen concentration, morphology, and motility (8). The patients were randomized into a test group that received the acupuncture and moxa treatments as well as a control group that didn’t receive the treatments. The results showed a significant increase in percentage in total functional sperm for the group who received acupuncture with moxibustion. 

How Does Acupuncture Benefit Sperm Health

Acupuncture has a cumulative effect, and in some cases depending on infertility factors, may need more time and consistent treatments to resolve. You wouldn’t expect to have a six-pack after one workout!

At Whole Family Health we base our treatment plan protocols on evidence-based fertility studies, tailored to your unique manifestations. 

Acupuncture is able to increase blood circulation and nerve conduction to the reproductive organs. The reproductive organs are then able to optimally produce and mature the sperm, regulate the temperature, and induce proper hormone signalling. 

Depending on your timeline, and if you are doing IVF treatment, our treatment protocols are based on research. We recommend treatments anywhere from once to twice weekly for 5 – 12 weeks, keeping in mind that it takes 72-90 days for sperm to fully mature. By working with you during this key preconception spermatogenesis period we can create the best conditions for the sperm to develop and grow to their peak potential. 

Lifestyle, environment, and what you put into your body can have great influence on sperm quality. Fertility specialized acupuncturists listen to your fertility journey to help provide lifestyle, diet, and supplement recommendations to optimize your sperm health. 

For more information on how we can support your fertility journey, feel free to contact us for a free 15-minute Q & A consultation.

Image: https://www.instagram.com/ambarazcorra/

References

(1) PMID: 15049583
Male factor infertility: Evaluation and management
DOI: 10.1016/S0025-7125(03)00150-0

(2) PMID: 11387287
Semen parameters, including WHO and strict criteria morphology, in a fertile and subfertile population: an effort towards standardization of in-vivo thresholds
https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/16.6.1165

(3) PMID: 28981654
Temporal trends in sperm count: a systematic review and met-regression analysis
https://doi.org/10.1093/humupd/dmx022

(4) PMID: 32168194
Reasons for worldwide decline in male fertility
DOI: 10.1097/MOU.0000000000000745

(5) PMID: 16009169
Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility
DOI: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2004.12.056

(6) PMID: 19055284
Clinical observation on electroacupuncture and Chinese drug for treatment of oligospermia and asthenospermia of the male infertility patient]
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19055284/

(7) PMID: 14695986
Effects of acupuncture and moxa treatment in patients with semen abnormalities
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14695986/

Canadian Infertility Awareness: FREE ONLINE EVENT

SATURDAY, APRIL 30
2 – 4PM MDT

FREE ONLINE EVENT:

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH PCRM

Are you Trying To Conceive?

#1in6 people struggle with fertility in Canada.

April 24 – 30 is Canadian Infertility Awareness Week – an opportunity to honour and empower those struggling with infertility.

Join us for this free online event to de-stigmatize infertility and to support you as you navigate your fertility journey.

Join the Whole Family Health Fertility Wellness Specialist Team, in collaboration with Dr. Caitlin Dunne from Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine (PCRM) for this informative and empowering online event.

This event is open to anyone who would like to attend.

Saturday, April 30th
2 – 4pm MDT

To Register:
info@wholefamilyhealth.ca
780-756-7736

EVENT PRESENTERS:

NAVIGATING INFERTILITY TREATMENTS & BUSTING COMMON MYTHS ABOUT IVF

Dr. Caitlin Dunne
Co-Clinical Director of PCRM, Reproductive Endocrinologist

Dr. Dunne will speak to fertility treatment options and help to debunk common myths about IVF. She will also be available for a Q&A to answer your questions about fertility treatment.

INFERTILITY & STRESS

Dr. Alda Ngo
WFH Co-owner, Registered Dr of TCM & Acupuncturist, Fellow of the ABORMCo-Director of MindfulnessForFertility.com

Dr. Alda will discuss infertility stress and share some accessible tools and resources that will help to decrease stress and cortisol to increase resilience on your fertility journey.

NATURAL LIFESTYLE FACTORS

Christina Pistotnik
WFH Co-owner, Registered Acupuncturist, Fellow of the ABORM

Christina will share some natural and simple lifestyle factors that you can incorporate to support your overall wellness and fertility health.

ACUPRESSURE FOR FERTILITY

Catherine Woodlock
WFH Registered Acupuncturist

Catherine will share some acupressure points you can use at home to help improve circulation, manage hormonal symptoms and support your fertility.

MASSAGE FOR REPRODUCTIVE WELLNESS

Candice Cole
WFH Registered Massage Therapist

Candice will share self-massage techniques you can use at home to help you relax and alleviate tension build-up.

FERTILE FOODS – 5 NUTRITIONAL TIPS FOR FERTILITY

Kathryn Simmons Flynn
WFH Certified Nutrition Consultant, Founder of FertileFoods.com, Author of Cooking For Fertility and Co-author of The Fertile Secret

Kathryn will share her 5 top nutritional tips for nourishing fertility.

To Register:
info@wholefamilyhealth.ca
780-756-7736

Endometriosis Awareness Month

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month.

Endometriosis affects an estimated 1 in 10 people around the world. Many people have received a delayed diagnosis due to a lack of awareness.

Often healthcare professionals can assume this pain is a normal part of menstruation. Unfortunately, there is a negative stigma surrounding people’s reproductive health and discussions surrounding period pain are looked at as taboo. It is not normal for pain to take control of your life, with appropriate pain management suffering can be controlled.

Endometriosis is an overlooked condition affecting thousands of people a year, and awareness must be spread.

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is an inflammatory condition where endometrial-like tissue, similar to the lining in the uterus, is found outside the uterine cavity invading the pelvic and abdominal areas. As hormones naturally fluctuate throughout the month, this triggers the endometrial-like tissue to become reactive and inflamed.

Symptoms of Endometriosis

Symptoms of endometriosis can include pain during periods, ovulation, during/after intercourse, when urinating or while passing bowel movements. It can also cause heavy bleeding during menses, chronic pelvic pain or abdominal pain, extreme fatigue, and infertility.

Endometriosis can place a huge negative impact on one’s lifestyle and social well-being. If you have any of these symptoms, please consult with your general practitioner. There, they can offer an ultrasound scan, further testing (eg. blood work/ MRI scan /biopsy), and/or a referral to see an ObGyn specializing in endometriosis. Hormone contraceptives, or hormone therapy and surgery may become options for treatment.

Diagnosis of Endometriosis

There is no usable set of symptoms that can accurately predict a diagnosis of endometriosis. Surgery is a definitive way to determine a diagnosis for endometriosis. However, a study performed by the University of Aberdeen analyzed primary care records and found that pain and menstrual symptoms occurring within the same year accompanied by lower gastrointestinal symptoms occurring within 90 days of gynaecological pain was a good predictor for endometriosis (1).

  • Specialized ultrasound technology has been improving for detection of endometriosis, but a normal ultrasound cannot rule out endometriosis. Endometriosis takes many appearances, making it difficult to differentiate from other conditions, without sampling the tissue itself.
  • Laparoscopy (a surgery to examine the pelvic and abdominal area) can be performed to cut or burn out any lesions or fibroids to be taken for further diagnostic testing. While this surgery is the only reliable way for a diagnosis and can take away some of the pain, it is invasive and follow-up studies have shown it may not be curative (1). 20-28% of patients did not feel a reduction in pain post-operation and 40-50% required another surgery after 5 years. Given that surgery may only fix endometriosis temporarily, what are solutions that will help cope with endometriosis pain?

Acupuncture For Endometriosis

This chronic condition can take its toll on someone’s mental and physical well-being.

Chronic pain is inconsistent – there are good days and bad days. It is important to have resources and a toolkit that can help alleviate life hindering symptoms.

Acupuncture can help with controlling endometrial pain. Acupuncture works to increase blood circulation, decrease inflammation, and balance hormones.

A Cochrane study enrolled 67 endometriosis patients suffering from dysmenorrhea (painful periods) to receive a 15-point acupuncture prescription and auricular (ear) acupuncture to help relieve their symptoms (2). The study’s primary outcome measure was decrease in pain and the secondary outcome measures were improved quality of life, pregnancy rates, and reduced recurrence of endometriosis. The auricular therapy group came out with a 91.9% success rate and dysmenorrhea pain scores were lower with the group receiving the 15-point acupuncture prescription.

Another study performed in China at Guangzhou University (Department of Gynaecology) shows abdominal acupuncture for 3 months to be effective in treating dysmenorrhea in patients with endometriosis (3).

Diet

Endometriosis is hormone-dependent and susceptible to foods that leave inflammatory markers.

Trans-unsaturated fatty acids, red meat and ham, as well as alcohol are found to potentially exacerbate the risk of developing endometriosis (4).

A Nurses’ Health study followed approximately 81 thousand participants’ diets from 1991 to 2013 (1). They found people consuming more than two servings of red meat per day had a 56% higher risk of endometriosis compared to those consuming one or less red meat products per week.

Being mindful of the amount of refined sugars and grains consumed is also optimal for decreasing inflammation.

Consuming colourful vegetables (rich in antioxidants and vitamins), as well as supplementing with B-group vitamins, calcium, vitamin D, and fish oils including Omega-3 may decrease the prevalence of endometriosis and pain associated with it (4).

Moving Forward

Let’s end the negative stigma by being open to discussing endometriosis and people’s reproductive health. If you feel like there’s something wrong with your reproductive system, don’t be afraid to advocate for your health by seeking a diagnosis and treatment.

Acupuncturists don’t want to see you in constant physical and mental pain, even if you don’t have a diagnosis, we can help bring balance back to your system to repair any ailments and provide lifestyle support.

For more information on how we can support you with endometriosis symptoms, feel free to contact us for a free 15-minute Q&A consult.

Image from fieldandsea.com

References

  1. PMID: 32089831
  2. PMID: 21901713
  3. PMID: 21442808
  4. PMID: 29944729
  5. PMID: 28326519

No Resolutions? No Problem!

Let me first start off by saying I have nothing against the culture of “New Year, New Me”, but making a list of resolutions can be daunting, unrealistic, and unenjoyable.

If you’re not big into making New Year’s Resolutions that is completely okay. Unfortunately, societal pressures and obligation is what drives a lot of people to become a whole new, fancier, and better self. The big question for me is what is better and how long will it take until you are fully satisfied? Even once we achieve our goals, how long until we fall out of these good habits?

I believe goals and practices can be set at any time, new years is overrated. I used to have this nonsensical rule that I could hold off starting my goal until the beginning of the next week. More often than not, the beginning of the week would roll around and I would lack all motivation and push starting further and further away. Not much was getting accomplished, and I was feeling bad for procrastinating something that would essentially benefit me.

Movement

While I’m not big into listing off numerous long-term goals, I want to reinforce how important movement is to incorporate in your daily life. For myself, and possibly many others, my long term/life-long goal is to improve my mobility to benefit my physical and mental health. Movement is so important to the body as it promotes cardiovascular health, fights back anxiety and depression, and releases endorphins.

Back in November, every morning my muscles felt tense and stiff, as if I did an intense workout the night before. Except I hadn’t – I had barely moved.

Since the pandemic, I had become more sedentary than ever. I knew I had to start moving more. But I wanted it to be fun and not painful. Also, it was in the middle of a week in November, no official way to start a daily practice. I truly did debate just holding it off until the New Year, but that made no sense. I was feeling so stagnant and fatigued.  

I started practicing some basic yoga I had remembered from previous yoga classes I took. It felt so refreshing to start moving again, the practice only took around 20 minutes and the next morning I was stiff, but in the areas I had stretched. This wasn’t the same groggy stiffness I was used to either, it felt like the muscles were finally being used again.

Because it felt so good and it put me in a relaxed mood afterwards, I made a conscious effort to be kind to myself and avoid discouraging myself. Moving everyday started becoming a daily practice, some days would last an hour and others 10 minutes. But I gave myself patience and the space to grow. 

Online Resources

I am so grateful for the vast content you can find online. While the internet’s endless content can be a blessing and a curse, I chose to really utilize all the free, low barrier entry ways to experiment with personal growth.

Putting on yoga videos and guided meditations have become a fun daily ritual I’ve adopted. There’s an endless stream of really awesome daily full body workouts (without equipment), Tai Chi lessons, and Qi Gong (breath-work) practices that are just clicks away.

Don’t forget to modify those videos to your speed (practice 10 minutes a day first and then increase when you’re ready), you don’t have to start on hard mode. You just need to begin! 

Baby Steps

I recommend baby steps. Take your goal day by day.

Start by making small adjustments and if those are working out for you and you’re happy, then you can move forward with what’s comfortable. It’s okay to respect your limitations and give yourself room to grow. You don’t have to race or push yourself to the extreme. It’s totally okay to have off days, but just remember that doesn’t mean you failed or gave up. 

Habit Forming

Consistency will help it get easier and ease it into your daily lifestyle. A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology (2009) found that it takes a person 18-254 days to develop a new habit, and around 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic.

Everyone’s journey is unique, and it doesn’t have to be linear. But once that habit is set, it becomes a daily ritual you’ll miss when you can’t practice it. Set those positive daily intentions and affirmations in the morning to help motivate you. It’s okay to be your own cheerleader. You’ve got this!

To find out more ways to support your health and wellbeing, contact us for a free 15-minute phone consultation.

Image @aolanow

References

DOI: 10.1002/ejsp.674

Year Of The Water Tiger

Growing up, the Lunar New Year was the biggest holiday for my Vietnamese – Canadian family.

I continue to love that it’s about beginning anew & taking the opportunity to intentionally invite blessings of health, growth, abundance & prosperity. I appreciate the mindful reminder to invite new possibilities.

I find joy in these Lunar New Year traditions & I have come to love them. May you use also use them as a framework for being present with intentions as the new year begins:

DANCING

The lunar new year is traditionally marked with a lion dance – complete with loud drums & fire crackers, which are meant to ward off bad luck & clear negative energy. I like to have my own little ‘lion’ dance party, complete with my own favourite raucous music. Dancing with reckless abandon is one of my favourite ways to release tension from the body.

FRESH THREADS

Traditionally, we start the new year fresh with a new outfit. Typically, we choose something red – symbolizing ripeness, abundance, happiness & good luck.

SPRING CLEANING

On the eve of the lunar new year, we clean our homes – sweeping out bad luck & stale energies that have accumulated from the previous year that can hide in nooks & crannies. We clear out old cobwebs to make space for good luck as well as new & fresh possibilities. We also wash & repair windows so that we may see with clarity.  

SPECIAL LUNAR NEW YEAR FOODS

We ring in the new year with these special & symbolic foods:

  • Whole fish, which symbolizes a harmonious & whole family, as well as unity for the coming new year.

  • Clear broth to symbolize clarity of mind & body for the new year.

  • Oranges, with their round shape & golden colour symbolizing good luck & abundance.

  • Long noodles representing longevity.

COMMUNITY

Lunar new year is a time for reunion with family & friends, to begin the year in community, collectively expressing our happiness & gratitude.

THE WATER TIGER

2022 is the year of the Water Tiger. It’s considered an auspicious year of strength & courage. Water Tigers are known for their intelligence, humour, stability, kindness & sociability.

May the year of the Water Tiger begin beautifully for you!

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