Chinese lifestyle advice
Optimizing our lifestyle is often harder as we are unaware of bad habits or what a good lifestyle should be. That's why I give all my patients free lifestyle and dietary advice with every consulation. We are told a good lifestyle is to eat healthy (often salads), loose weight (on the latest celebrity diet) and to exercise (like a marathon runner), whilst still going to work, having the successful career, the latest fashions, a lovely clean house and being sociable with friends.
From a traditional Chinese medicine point of view, trying to achieve all of this depletes energy and blood. Energy and blood is like the body’s money commodity. We need to use it and spend it so we can convert it into money we can put in our pocket. However, trying to gain all the material possessions we think as well as hve the prefect home and body often means we’ve overspend our body’s money leaving it overdrawn.
Sleep can greatly affect energy levels. Good sleep is golden. Sleeping near midnight or afterwards damages yin as midnight is the highest point of yin. Therefore, sleeping close towards midnight drains the yin, like burning the candle at both ends. There is a saying “Two hours before midnight is worth ten after”. I couldn’t agree more! Those two hours before midnight safeguards your yin for you to use in your fertility. So to enhance your health, try not to sleep later than 10pm. It will take some practice and time, but you’ll notice how much better you feel for it.
Regular exercise is good for both men and women. I would recommend around 30 minutes three times a week of cardio (non-impact). Impact sports damage joints such as the knees and can cause an embedded embryo to become dislodged and miscarry. Too much exercise is harmful to the body for both men and women. Being fit just means you are fit, it doesn’t mean you are healthy. This is a misconception in the west.
Ideal Chinese exercises to do each day are Tai Chi and Qi Gong. Tai Chi promotes energy movement around the body whilst Qi Gong increases the amount of energy in the body.
Wearing the right clothes
In today’s world we are often insulated from the Earth’s environment. We often look out of our temperature controlled homes and try and predict what the weather is like outside and dress according to that prediction, often getting it wrong and suffering for it. Wearing the right clothes for the right season can greatly improve your health. For example, when the outside temperature is below 10 degrees (50 Fahrenheit), it’s better for your health to wear thermal undergarments to keep the heat in. Hormones are in the blood and blood flow is affected by the cold as it’s a liquid, so keeping warm can actually help to regulate your hormones and improve your fertility. People fall ill in winter because the coldness slows down blood flow making the immune system less efficient in combating viruses.
There is a saying in old English that goes “Ne’er cast a clout till May be out”, which means don’t cast off your winter clothes until the end of May. With the advent of ‘modern medicine’ over the last century, people have become accustomed to wearing less clothing for the sake of fashion and then using paracetamol (acetaminophen) or antibiotics when they fall ill. This isn’t good for our health. Not wearing enough clothes uses up energy.
Wearing the right footwear
I often criticize my patients for coming into my clinic wearing pumps on their feet in wintertime. This is because the sole of the shoe isn’t thick enough to keep the coldness of the ground away from the foot, so the foot gets cold. Blood is a liquid; it’s affected by temperature. If you have cold feet, it affects blood flow and your health. Whilst indoors, it’s important to still keep your feet warm, especially in the winter or in cold buildings or on cold floors. Feet are a great regulator of the body’s temperature. Wearing socks and slippers around the house will help to regulate blood flow around the body. Warm feet, warm body! If you suffer from very cold feet or your feet are cold from the ankle to the whole foot, I would recommend using a warm foot spa daily to help encourage blood flow and improve your circulation.
Staying away from drafts such as air conditioning units will reduce the likelihood of catching a cold, which depletes energy and blood levels. The old saying “Stay out of drafts or you’ll catch a chill” is very true. And a cold is something we get, cold. The cold weakens the body as it needs to use up energy to warm the body causing the immune system to become weaker and any viruses that might be lurking around suddenly have the upper hand and we fall ill. This depletes the amount of energy we have for our health.