July 24th is International Self-Care Day and serves as a reminder of the importance of self-care. Self-care is a fundamental pillar of health; it includes making choices for a healthy diet, getting adequate exercise and sleep, as well as stress management. Self-care is an essential part of health care.
Some place self-care on the opposite end of the continuum of health-care providers, but I do not see it that way. As a practitioner who is passionate about preventative medicine and optimizing quality of life, self-care is everything.
I discuss what I call the 4 pillars or foundations of health with all my new patients: diet and digestion, stress management, sleep, and movement. So much of our health depends on our individual choices in these areas. But we all know that things can get in the way of making the best choices for ourselves. In practice, two obstacles that I commonly see are: a need for education or learning and internal factors such as a lack of motivation, or anxiety and depression.
Patients who are better informed and more educated on their health gain greater motivation to practice self-care. I implement a ton of education with my patients so that they understand the why behind the recommendations that I make. I truly believe that knowledge is empowerment. I often joke with patients that I am teaching them not to need me.
When low motivation is an issue, and education isn’t enough to get patients practicing the self-care that they deserve, it is often because they are in a place of feeling overwhelmed, tired (brain fog, anyone?), or their anxiety or depression is getting in the way. Many patients tell me they know what they need to do to feel well, but they either can’t bring themselves to keep to it, or when they finally get going, they self-sabotage.
These are instances where I often suggest acupuncture. I practice Traditional Chinese Acupuncture, a holistic treatment system that takes into account the physical, mental-emotional, and spiritual aspects of your current state of health and wellbeing.
Acupuncture can calm an over-stimulated nervous system, or nourish a depleted one. I use it frequently for increasing motivation and helping patients reduce negative health behaviors such as smoking and emotional eating. It is one of my #1 treatment of choice for anyone experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, or depression. I often teach useful acupressure points for patients to use between visits that can really help manage high stress and anxiety and even help prevent a panic attack.
Over time, patients become more body aware, and begin to notice more quickly when they are becoming out of balance, which allows them to take hold of the situation before it advances.
Many of my patients use regular maintenance acupuncture as a healthy, preventative method of self-care that keeps them feeling more relaxed, better able to cope with stress, and more capable of managing anxiety and depression. Patients often comment also that it helps them sleep more soundly and reduce pain and body tension.
Self-care is not just a trendy phrase. Learning to be in touch with our physical and emotional needs and actually acting on them is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. This is not being selfish – or maybe it is, but this is selfishness for all the right reasons – when we feel well, everyone benefits. As the old adage goes, you cannot pour from an empty cup. I take care to remember this as well; how am I to serve patients if I have not first served myself? Many of us spend a fair portion of our day thinking about and caring for others; now, who takes care of you?
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Your 75-minute initial consult involves a detailed patient intake, including a thorough health history and pertinent physical exams; indicated lab testing is discussed. At this appointment, Dr. Langille may decide acupuncture is the best place to start.
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