According to Chinese medicine, it’s all down to balancing your qi, says Emma Cannon
Tiredness is one of the most common complaints I hear in my clinic. In many ways I am not surprised. We live increasingly hectic and exhausting lives, take too little time to recover from illness, and often our environment does not support our health.
In Chinese medicine we call energy qi (pronounced chi) and it is derived from various sources of nourishment.
• The air that we breathe
• Food and good digestion
• The water we drink
• Feeling inspired
• Good relationships
• Our environment
• Robust constitution
• Poor diet and poor digestion
• Lack of water
• Feeling dissatisfied
• Poor relationships
• Poor environment
• Poor constitution
Improving energy through breath
A lack of oxygen and therefore lack of qi obtained through breath is a big problem. Many people breathe very poorly and the air we take in is often not ideal. Taking a stroll in the countryside and being amongst trees and greenery is vital to our wellbeing and our qi. If we sit slumped over a computer all day and don’t get a chance to walk in nature our qi will suffer. If you do have an office job and don’t get outside much, make sure you have some plants in your room and that you get outside at weekends.
When we feel well nourished emotionally, everything is all right with the world; we have a lightness of heart, plenty of energy and a spring in our step. But when our needs are not met, either by ourselves or through circumstance, this can really begin to drain our energy. Just as we spend time working, eating, exercising and socialising, I believe it is important that we invest time into our emotional wellness. This could be through meditation or some form of therapy, or simply by pursuing things that bring us joy and happiness. If you find that you are emotionally and physically fatigued, you would do well to spend a little time looking inward where you may well find the source of your tiredness. Sometimes addressing the murky, darker aspects of ourselves can result in an improvement of health and vitality.
Energy through food
Not only is good food important, but so is good digestion so that can we can easily absorb the food we eat. You will know by now that I am not a fan of raw food diets. That is not to say we can’t have an element of raw food in our diet, but not more than 30 percent of what we eat should be raw. When the system is weak and depleted of energy it is actually better to eat food that is very easy to digest and that has a tonifying effect on the digestive system. Flooding the body with juices and raw food can actually make the problem worse as it is hard to digest, and juices are overly sweet and lacking in roughage. I frequently see that energy and health improve when cooked food is reintroduced to the diet. As humans evolved, when we started to eat cooked foods we quickly moved up to the top of the food chain.
Eating a diet that is varied and seasonal is preferable to eating a limited amount of so-called superfoods, often flown in from all corners of the world. Of course there are medical causes of tiredness, so it’s important to see your GP about any prolonged periods of fatigue.
Last word: one of the most important teachings of Chinese medicine is knowing yourself; your strengths and your weaknesses, and adjusting your life and activities accordingly. Constantly pushing yourself beyond the limits of your capacity will inevitably result in poor health.
Emma is an integrated women’s health expert, registered acupuncturist and author emmacannon.co.uk
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