Stuck in an energy rut? With darker days on the horizon, autumn is the ideal time to revitalise with these body-boosting therapies
As autumn approaches and the nights draw in, it’s only natural that some of us find our energy levels depleting at this time of year. Thankfully, there are lots of caffeine and sugar-free ways we can give our internal batteries a boost, which will help us to deal with the daily stresses and strains of modern life.
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that involves inserting fine needles into acupoints on the skin, to help stimulate the flow of qi (vital energy) throughout the body and keep us in optimum health. “There are many acupoints that can be used to specifically improve our overall energy and wellbeing,” explains Christopher Byrne, a TCM practitioner and president of the FHT (fht.org.uk). “After a full consultation, your practitioner will choose a selection of points unique to you and your needs, which will help to stimulate the body’s qi, boost your energy levels and reduce stress and fatigue.”
Amno-fu massage is a deep abdominal massage, designed to stimulate the digestive organs, liver, spleen and reproductive system. “When the body is fatigued, many of its normal functions are affected,” says Christopher. “If we have a sluggish digestive system, the food we eat doesn’t get converted into energy properly, so we grow more fatigued, move less, and a vicious cycle begins. As well as literally stimulating digestive activity and ‘getting things moving again’, amno-fu massage will draw more blood and fluid to the area, helping the body to eliminate waste and toxins more efficiently.”
“There are lots of herbs used in TCM that are known to be good for health and energy levels, including ginger, ginseng and turmeric,” says Christopher. “Obviously, many of us already eat or drink these herbs on a regular basis, but if you are looking to take herbal remedies or supplements, it is important to consult a qualified practitioner, as some herbs can interact with different medicines or should only be taken in small amounts. A practitioner will also be able to choose herbs for your specific body type and constitution, to help improve the flow of qi and boost your energy levels and body functions.”
Often called ‘acupuncture without the needles’, acupressure aims to restore the balance of qi in the body by applying pressure to different acupoints using the fingers, thumbs, elbows and other parts of the hands and arms. “Seated acupressure massage is particularly good for those looking for a quick energy boost,” says Christopher. “Treatment is carried out through clothing and can be as short as 10 to 15 minutes. As the therapist will typically focus on working acupoints on the back, neck, shoulders and arms, it’s a very invigorating treatment and great for relieving muscular tension.”
The ancient art of Qigong involves slow, relaxed movements that allow the body to stretch and unwind, and maximise its ability to store, move and use qi. “Qigong is part of everyday life in China, where thousands of people gather every morning in their local parks, to practise before they go about their daily business,” says Christopher. “Qigong is great for our overall health and wellbeing, and really helps to increase vitality. During the different exercises, each meridian or ‘energy channel’ in the body is stretched and worked, to encourage qi to flow freely, from head to toe. Some practise is required, however, a few simple classes is all it takes to be on your way to a healthier you.”
There’s nothing like a pleasing aroma to awaken the senses. Aromatherapy involves the therapeutic use of plant essential oils, which enter the body via the lungs when we inhale, or the skin, if applied as part of a massage blend or other product. As well as traveling around the circulatory system, the inhaled oils reach the limbic system in the brain, where they impact our mood. Pine is known to reduce fatigue, while citrus oils such as orange, lemon and grapefruit are all very uplifting. In terms of mental fatigue, rosemary is excellent for stimulating the mind and basil is said to help bring clarity. “It is generally safe to add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to a burner or vapouriser, but be careful using essential oils in the home,” Christopher warns. “Never ingest or apply oils to the skin undiluted. For guidance, consult a qualified aromatherapist.”
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