AOMA Blog

Reagan Taylor, AOMA Master's Graduate and DAOM Student

Posted by Brian Becker on Thu, Mar 14, 2019 @ 11:59 AM

 

Please introduce yourself! Where are you from? Where did you go to undergraduate?  What did you study?

My name is Reagan Taylor, and I am from Austin, TX. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up until I had to decide, but once I discovered how intriguing acupuncture and Chinese medicine I never turned back. In my research to find a good school, I didn’t need to look any farther than my hometown…I heard that AOMA had a great program with higher educational standards than other schools throughout the country.  I familiarized myself with the requirements for admission and studied AOMA’s curriculum. From there, I focused my studies at Austin Community College in biology, health sciences, sociology, and psychology to prepare me for patient care.

What were you doing before you came to AOMA?

I lived in Oregon for several years learning how to blow soft glass; making vases, sculptures, paper weights.  While I was having fun, I didn’t feel like I was really serving a purpReagan Taylorose. I moved back to Austin and began work at a wonderful organization, The Marbridge Foundation, which is a residential care facility for adults with intellectual disabilities.  I worked there full-time before starting AOMA master’s program.  I stayed on as a part-time employee all throughout my time at AOMA, and left Marbridge all together about a year ago. It was a wonderful place to work and my experiences there instilled in me patience, communication skills, and stress management skills for myself as well as for patients.

What are some of your favorite classes and/or teachers at AOMA?

What kind of trick question is this?!?  There is no way I can really choose a favorite instructor from AOMA because they are all wonderful in their own way.  As a current doctoral student, I recently took the Neurology class with Dr. Amy Moll because I have a special interest in neurological systems and disorders. Dr. Moll is an exceptional educator with incredible knowledge of functional neurology and ways to treat disorders with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.

How would you describe the Student Culture at AOMA?

Personally, I have found the student culture at AOMA to be very welcoming and warm.  During my time as a master’s student, and now as a doctoral candidate, I have found a lot of support amongst my cohorts.  Friends I made as a master’s student are still some of my closest friends and biggest supporters.  Students always seem to be finding ways to lift each other up, whether it’s forming a study group or carving out much needed time for fun or relaxation.  The students here all have very diverse backgrounds, and everyone is here for their own reason so we learn from each other.

What is your favorite thing about AOMA and why? Describe your experiences at AOMA.

I have really appreciated the high standard of education I’ve received at AOMA.  I’ve also always felt very supported and heard by the faculty and staff here.  After graduation, I maintained a relationship with AOMA and worked as a part-time clinical teaching assistant, which then blossomed into my current position as the full-time clinical resident.  It’s been interesting to go from being a student, to faculty member, and now a hybrid of doctoral student and faculty member. I get to see and experience all sides of AOMA, which has only added to my appreciation for this institution.

What benefits do you feel earning your Doctorate will afford you, and how did you decide which one was the best choice for your career?

Earning my doctorate will not only open up a lot of doors for me as far as my career, but it’s also providing me with a deeper clinical understanding and exposing me to some amazing, more advanced techniques.  I started out in the DAcOM program (first professional doctorate) and made the decision to switch to the DAOM, which will challenge me in ways I never knew I wanted to be challenged.  Earning my DAOM, will open up doors for me to work in academia and research and provide me with vast clinical insights.  I decided to switch programs because, as AOMA’s clinical resident, I have found I really enjoy working with students in the clinical setting, helping them learn, while also working with patients.  The DAOM arms with the knowledge I need as well as the credentials necessary for a career in education.

What, if any perceptions of Chinese medicine have changed from when you started the program to now? What vision would you like to see for the future of healthcare?

Before starting the program, I viewed Chinese medicine and its founding philosophy as mystical and magical.  After learning so much more, I no longer see it quite like that.  Now, I understand it as an extremely logical and scientifically sound medical practice…ancient physicians just had a different language and ways to describe how our bodies function and the cause of disease.

What are you plans after completing your Doctorate?

I have developed a real passion for clinical education.  Once I receive my DAOM, I hope to serve in that capacity.  I always want to be a clinician, working with and treating patients, but I would also like to be deeply involved with teaching other people how to be great practitioners.  Developing clinical curriculum, treating patients, and helping students become confident in their abilities are all things I believe are well suited to my personality, strengths, and talents and I hope to be doing exactly that in my future.

Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, DAOM, MAcOM, aoma students, chinese medicine, tcm education, acupunture

How Auricular Acupuncture Can Help with Opiate Use Disorder

Posted by Victor S. Sierpina, MD on Fri, Feb 15, 2019 @ 11:37 AM

Previously published, Galveston County Daily News, Jan 23, 2019

Opiate Use Disorder is claiming lives by the tens of thousands. The Center for Disease Control reported 47,600 deaths in the US involving opioids in 2017, concluding that the opioid overdose epidemic continues to worsen with increased in deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. In the state of Texas, deaths attributable to opioids rose three times from 1999-2015 with increasing impact on maternal mortality and neonatal abstinence syndrome.

The UTMB Department of Family Medicine recently submitted a grant proposal to improve education and clinical practice by training and outreach to rural areas hardest hit by this growing scourge. Many of those with OUD started on prescription medications and then moved onto black market products like heroin, fentanyl, and diverted OxyContin.

Controlled substance contracts, the statewide Prescription Monitoring Program, limiting initial opiate prescriptions, automated electronic medical record notifications about the use of Naloxone, medical provider and public awareness are all part of the solution.

The use of auricular (ear) acupuncture for substance abuse, alleviating withdrawal symptoms, behavioral health, and pain management is a safe, widely researched, and long-standing adjunctive treatment modality. The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA protocol) is the best known of the methods and has been practiced widely for over 30 years. It involves application of 3 to 5 needles at specified ear points, is simple to learn and to apply, and enjoys wide patient acceptance.

The clinical application of ear acupuncture for substance use since it was first found effective in easing withdrawal symptoms from opium and heroin in Hong Kong in the 1970’s. Since then, research and practice-based evidence continues to accumulate and drive its use along with safety, ease of application, and patient acceptance.

The broad application of NADA to alcohol, opiate, nada pictobacco, methamphetamine, and cocaine abuse makes it a promising adjunct to medical and behavioral treatment methods in a very challenging patient population. Additionally, the NADA protocol has been used for stress management, including post-traumatic stress, treating addicted pregnant women, sleep disorders, and anxiety. It has been used in refugee camps, post-hurricane settings, prisons, hospitals, rehabilitation treatment centers, as well as outpatient clinics, predominantly in a group treatment context.

Practitioners emphasize that so-called “acudetox” is an adjunctive, not a standalone treatment for easing withdrawal symptoms as well as maintenance of abstinence. It is most effective when applied with standard therapy, behavioral interventions, and/or 12-step programs.

Physiological studies have shown auricular acupuncture acts on neuroendocrinological pathways include serotonin, dopamine, endorphin, dynorphin, and GABA receptors which mediate its effects on pain management. The Battlefield Acupuncture protocol using 5 tiny tacks in each ear has been increasingly used since the early 2000’s when it was first applied in military settings. It can also be highly and immediately effective in acute problems like migraine and chronic problems such as back or muscle pain.

Other non-pharmacological treatments such as mindfulness, anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, chiropractic, massage, hypnosis, diet, exercise, physical therapy, yoga and tai chi can also be part of a rational integrative pain management plan that doesn’t involve the risk of using addicting opiates.

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

---Martin Luther King, Jr.

Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, efficacy of acupuncture, chinese medicine, tcm education, prevention, acupunture

Four Things Everyone Should Know About Acupuncture School

Posted by Brian Becker on Tue, Jan 22, 2019 @ 11:20 AM

Acupuncture (5)

In my time as an Admissions officer I have encountered a lot of commonly held misconceptions about various degrees, perhaps even more so when it comes to the field of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  So here are some basic facts about Acupuncture school that some individuals, such as perspective students, patients, other healthcare providers, as well as the public in general, may not be aware of.

1) It is a Rigorous Master’s Degree

One of the chief misconceptions about Acupuncture is the amount IMG_7927of schooling required.  People are often shocked to learn that a Master Degree is required before they may sit for the National Boards exams.  What’s more, this is not your standard two year Master’s.  AOMA’s program is 203.5 quarter credits (equal to 135.6 semester credits), typically takes four and a half years, and involves a total of 2970 instructional hours.  Of those, 161.5 of the credits, or 1962 hours are Didactic and 42 credits, 1008 hours, are clinical.

Many of those obtain their Master’s go on to take bridge programs such as our DAcOM, becoming Doctors of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.  Indeed there is a push within the profession as a whole to require doctorates for licensure in the United States.

2) Amount of Biomedicine

More and more TCM is being taught as an integrative medicine,Classroom_Blood Pressure (1) working alongside other healthcare providers with the best interest of the patient in mind.  To this end AOMA’s program covers a wide range of biomedical topics including Medical Biochemistry, Pathophysiology, and Biomedical Pharmacology among others.

3) Hands On 

Like the training for any other healthcare profession,IMG_0031 copy acupuncture programs require a lot of clinical and hands on laboratory hours.  As mentioned earlier, 1008 of AOMA’s 2970 instructional hours are clinical, this translates to 34%, one third of the program.  This process begins with Clinic Theater I in which students are exposed to the diagnostic methods of TCM including the techniques and application of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine by observing professional treatments performed by a member of the AOMA faculty.  This culminates in a full clinical internship, in which the student, as a supervised intern, performs the intake, diagnosis, and treatment of patients.

4) Strength of Faculty

Our faculty is well versed in a wide range of clinical specializations,Dr. Wu's book academic backgrounds, and published research.  At AOMA there are 37 faculty members, including 29 Licensed Acupuncturists, 7 Medical Doctors, 2 Ph.D.’s and 6 faculty members who hold both an MD and a Ph.D.  AOMA Graduate School is also the home of the only Chinese herbal pharmacologist Ph.D. in the United States.  About two thirds of our faculty bring to the table at least a decade of tenure and many years of training and practicing TCM in China.

Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture school, masters program, acupuncture students, tcm school, tcm education, acupunture

AOMA’s Holiday Gift Guide 2018

Posted by Stephanee Owenby on Fri, Dec 21, 2018 @ 11:29 AM

Are you stressing about what gifts to get for the acupuncture-lover in your life this holiday? AOMA’s staff & students are here to help! Below you’ll find our top 10 picks for acu-friendly holiday gifts, whether you’re shopping for your TCM practitioner, recent AOMA-grad, or just someone who could use the gift of acupuncture this season.

  1. Salt lamp

Made from pink salt crystals native to the Himalayas, salt lamps are said to release negative ions, helping to cleanse dust particles from the air and boost energy levels. Some salt lamp users have even reported elevated mood, reduced anxiety, improved sleep, and reduced allergy and asthma symptoms. While no major studies have supported these claims, the warm pinkish glow of a salt lamp makes a welcoming and beautiful addition to any home or clinic space.

  1. Pain-relieving TCM Topicals Zheng gu shui

Any or all of these pain-relieving traditional Chinese medicine topical oils or liniments would make amazing gifts, whether for the gym-goer or athlete in your life or someone who needs some relief from minor aches and pains. They make excellent stocking stuffers or “white elephant” gifts too!

White Flower oil is used for the temporary relief of minor aches and pains of muscles and joints due to simple backache, arthritis, strains bruises and sprains.

Zheng Gu Shui is great for external cooling pain relief and may be used for the temporary relief of aches and pains of muscles and joints associated with backache, lumbago, strains, bruises, sprains, and arthritic or rheumatic pain, pain of tendons and ligaments.

Wood Lock (Wong To Yick) oil is used for the temporary relief of pain, to soothe muscles and joints, and to relieve tightness in muscles.

Die Da Wan Hua oil is used for the temporary relief of minor aches and pains of muscles and joints associated with simple backache, arthritis, and strain.

Po Sum On oil is an all-purpose peppermint oil and balm primarily used to warm up muscles, improve circulation, and relieve pain. It can also be used to treat muscle aches, symptoms from the common cold, bites, scratches, burns, or to warm up the body prior to exercising.

  1. Jade roller & Pearl powder Jade roller_Pearl powder

Jade rollers have been used in China for thousands of years and have recently been spotlighted by the YouTube beauty community! Jade is itself a cooling and rejuvenating stone, called the “stone of heaven” in traditional Chinese medicine, and a jade roller treatment can smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, reduce redness and puffiness, and tone and brighten the facial skin.

Pearl powder is widely believed to improve the appearance of the skin, stimulate new skin growth, regenerate collagen, accelerate the healing of acne, release toxins, and eliminate sun damage and age spots. These two items would make a perfect combo gift for the beauty guru on your shopping list!

  1. Cupping set – glass, plastic, silicone Glass cups

Cupping is another traditional Chinese medical technique that has had the spotlight in popular culture lately! Glass, plastic, or silicone cups are used as suction devices and placed on the skin to loosen tight muscles and encourage blood flow. Plastic and silicone cups are cheaper and easier to use and so are typically more popular with acupuncture students and patients who want to cup themselves at home. But there are many advantages to glass cupping! Glass cups can be easily moved around the skin surface to treat larger areas, they can be used with heat for “fire cupping,” and some practitioners argue that glass cups have better suction. And best of all? When not in-use they can be beautifully and decoratively displayed in a clinician’s treatment room!

  1. Décor

Whether you’re decorating a new space or freshening up a room for the new year, it’s always fun to receive décor for the holidays! Welcome chimes, wall hangings, statues, and candles can each completely transform an existing space into something brand new. A didactic “Acu-Model” statue might be the perfect gift for an acupuncture student --  we even have Acu-Cat and Acu-Horse models! And try hanging a chime on your door this new year – it’s good feng shui, as bells are the harbingers of prosperity and good luck.

  1. Essential oils, Incense, & Burners EO burner_holiday

Incense and essential oils have been used for thousands of years to create pleasant smells, promote spiritual practice, and to help with healing. (AOMA Herbal Medicine sells all-natural incense which can be burned more safely than those containing harsh chemicals!) Scent can be a powerful influencer to mood, and incense or oil burners themselves are lovely decorative additions to a clinic or living space.

  1. E-stim machine

This would be a GREAT gift for a new AOMA student or a recent graduate starting their practice! An e-stim machine is required to perform electroacupuncture and thus is an essential piece of clinical equipment, but it can be a big investment – especially on a student budget. Electroacupuncture can help a clinician address pain, muscle spasms, nausea, and many more symptoms. It’s also required for an AOMA student’s clinic kit!

  1. Moxa box Moxa box

Moxibustion, the therapeutic burning of the herb mugwort to promote healing, is an important and frequently-performed traditional Chinese medical technique. In a moxa box, the loose moxa fiber is rolled into a ball and burned, held above the patient’s skin by a screen, with the smoke directed downward. While it is certainly not necessary, a moxa box can make moxibustion safer for the patient as well as easier for the practitioner to both perform and clean up after.

  1. Massage oils & lotions

Self-care is often at the back of our minds when it should be at the forefront, and massage oils or lotions can be an excellent aromatic and therapeutic addition to everyone’s relaxation or stress management routine. And a sampling of new oils and lotions might be just what the massage therapist or acupuncturist on your holiday shopping list needs to start the new year feeling fresh and prosperous!

  1. AOMA gift certificate AOMA_Logo_St_E_RGB-1
From acupuncture treatments to acupuncture books, there’s an AOMA gift certificate to suit all your shopping needs! Professional Clinic acupuncture gift certificates are $100, Student Clinic  gift certificates are $30, and AOMA Herbal Medicine gift certificates are available in amounts from $5-$500. You can even buy online and we’ll mail them directly to the recipient!

Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, self-care, AOMA Herbal Medicine, AOMA clinic, lifestyle, aoma, tcm, acupunture

Meet Katie: Registered Nurse Turned Acupuncture Student

Posted by Brian Becker on Tue, Nov 27, 2018 @ 12:10 PM

 Katie Shea

Please introduce yourself! Where are you from? Where did you go to undergraduate? What did you study? How far along/When did you start at AOMA?

My name is Katie Shea and I grew up in Chicago. I went to Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) for undergrad and received a bachelor’s degree in nursing. I began attending the master’s program at AOMA Fall of 2017.

What were you doing before you came to AOMA?

Before coming to AOMA, I was practicing as a registered nurse. I spent over a year in the emergency room immediately after graduating from college then transferred departments to work in a cardiac electrophysiology lab. I am continuing to practice as a nurse and work with cardiac patients while attending AOMA.

What was your first introduction to acupuncture and what was your impression?

My first introduction to acupuncture was at AOMA with Dr. Luo. I have always been interested in alternative therapies and was curious about TCM. I learned right away how effective acupuncture and herbs could be, as it quickly alleviated multiple vague symptoms I was experiencing at the time. Eventually, I began having regular treatments for both chronic and acute issues (I was training for a marathon at the time) and felt a deep connection to the subtle yet powerful nature of this medicine.

When did you become interested in studying Chinese medicine and why? What made you choose AOMA as your school and/or shift your career focus to come to AOMA?

Many factors were involved in my decision to embark on this journey into Chinese medicine. As a nurse, I understand the importance of providing safe and effective care to patients. I was also becoming familiar that one medical paradigm is not sufficient to solve all of the health concerns that face our modern world. As a yoga instructor and practitioner, I am also aware that there is much more to health than simply not getting sick; it is about learning how to listen to your body and act in a way that promotes balance. To me, that is the exact nature of Chinese medicine - to correct the small imbalances and promote harmony in the body in a nuanced yet long-lasting and sustainable way.

 What are some of your favorite classes and/or teachers at AOMA?

My favorite class at AOMA so far is Foundations with Dr. Wu. I could take this class over and over (which I did) and continue to learn so much from a professor that has an abundance of knowledge yet presents the material in a very simple way.

 What is your favorite thing about AOMA and why? Describe your experiences at AOMA.

My favorite aspect of AOMA is that everyone is so open, generous with their own personal challenges and health journeys, and unsparing with their energy and attention. I frequently find myself in an insightful conversation with a group of intelligent people that have very diverse backgrounds. I have also noticed the willingness of AOMA students to help one another in a time of need. On multiple occasions, I have been truly touched by the acts of kindness or simple gestures to help and support a fellow colleague. I feel very lucky to be involved in this community.

 Have you started treating as a student intern yet? If so, please describe a unique experience or something that surprised you.

I have not yet started to treat as an intern but there have been many unique moments that have surprised me, particularly in the acupuncture clinic at the Kerrville Folk Festival. It was incredible to see the amount of patients that AOMA students were able to serve, free of charge, in a modest, four-bed clinic. The complaints ranged from joint pain from worn-out musicians and heat-related issues from camping outside in Texas in June to deep emotional pain from years of trauma. Each patient displayed openness and gratitude and showed a willingness to contribute to their own healing by taking what the practitioner said seriously; this was something I did not expect in such a casual setting.

 What, if any perceptions of Chinese medicine have changed from when you started the program to now? What vision would you like to see for the future of healthcare?

For the most part, my perceptions of Chinese medicine have been consistent with my expectations entering the program. As I learn more, however, I realize that TCM and conventional medicine have more in common than many people realize. The two disciplines are simply describing the same body using a different language (both literally and figuratively) and coming to very similar conclusions. My hope for the future of healthcare is that we continue in a direction toward a multidisciplinary approach to patient care. It is no coincidence that one system picks up where the other leaves off; it is because both are necessary if the healthcare team intends to both treat illness while also maintaining positive health.

 What are you plans after graduation?

Following graduation, I would like to travel and volunteer my time and skills while acquiring the experience necessary to start my own practice. Eventually, my goal is to combine both eastern and western modalities in order to provide patients with well-rounded care. This will ideally include a multidisciplinary practice that utilizes many different approaches to healthcare in a way that not only treats illness but also supports optimal functioning.


Want to learn more about the Master's Program at AOMA? Contact the AOMA admissions office! 

Request Information

Topics: student spotlight, acupuncture school, acupuncture students, aoma students, acupunture

Meet Francesca: Massage Therapist, Mother of 4, and Acupuncture Student

Posted by Rob Davidson on Wed, Sep 26, 2018 @ 02:24 PM

 Francesca Moore-2

Please Introduce yourself! 

Hi, I am Francesca Moore, from New York. I attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and received a Bachelors of Industrial Design with a concentration on Fine Art Ceramics. I also did Post-Baccalaureate study in Fine Art Ceramics at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. In 2009 I made a drastic career change, leaving the world of art and design to work in the healing arts. I received my AOS in Massage Therapy and  Advanced Personal Training Certificate from the Swedish Institute in New York. I am a Licensed Massage Therapist and a Certified Strength an Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

I started at AOMA in Winter of 2015 and will officially graduate the Master's program in Fall 2018. I started working on my Professional Doctorate degree concurrently and hope to complete that coursework in 2019.

What are some of your other interests/hobbies outside Chinese medicine?

My husband and I have 4 small kids, ages 6, 4, 2 and 1.  We moved out to the Hill Country last year and hope to be able to spend more time enjoying nature. We love to hike with the kids and some day soon I hope to get back to cycling and kayaking.

What made you want to study acupuncture and Chinese medicine?

My experiences as a young designer in a high paced firm, quickly ascending the ranks, left me feeling out of balance, sick and miserable. Finding Chinese Medicine and working with a wonderful practitioner changed my entire being and gave me the new direction of working to help people improve their health. In the State of New York, half of the massage therapy training required is Five Element Shiatsu.Most of my instructors were also acupuncturists or students of Chinese medicine.

Chinese medicine concepts and Five Element theory were well integrated into my education at Swedish and I knew when I completed that training that I would become a student of Chinese Medicine some day. Ironically, one of my last design projects was a hotel in Beijing and my firm just finished a project in Chendu.

Please describe your top accomplishments since starting the program!

I passed my Herbal Board exam on the first try! My youngest son also turned 1. Keeping my children alive while being a student was definitely an accomplishment!

What did your AOMA education mean to you/prepare you for?

I have met so many wonderful people at AOMA! The connections I have made with other students and practitioners have been invaluable. I feel well prepared to provide high quality, patient centered care once I step out into the world as a licensed practitioner. AOMA has also prepared me for a lifetime of learning. I know I have only scratched the surface in my studies of Chinese Medicine and look forward to narrowing my focus and continuing my studies to specialize in TCM Pediatrics and Gynecology as well as Oncology. 

What, if any perceptions of Chinese medicine have changed from when you started the program to now?

Many of the OM practitioners I worked with in NYC were Classically trained students from a particular lineage who painted a picture of TCM as inferior to their traditions. It's clear to me now that it's all the same medicine.

What is your vision for the future of healthcare/medicine and your career moving forward?

The Bravewell Collaborative's definition of the integrative medicine approach, really resonates with me. I strongly value the partnership between patient and practitioner throughout the healing process and I trust the body’s innate response and ability to heal itself.  As medical providers, we have a responsibility to consider all factors that influence health, wellness and disease. We may not be able to affect change on them all, but when treating diseases of the body, we should consider how the mind, spirit, community and environment relate to causes of illness as well as treatment strategies. We should be aware that each of these factors is one piece of a larger puzzle for affecting change. I hope to practice in a fully integrative setting where I can collaborate with biomedical practitioners and practitioners of other CAM modalities.

What advice would you give to recent or soon-to-be graduates about to enter the field professionally?

Familiarize yourself with board exam topics and work on a study plan as early as possible. There are a few topics of study I wish I hadn't glossed over and a few other that I could have put on the back burner until after completing the licensing process...and stay on top of your portfolio! They aren't kidding!

AOMA is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2018. Please tell your fondest memory of your studies here, and also feel free to give your Anniversary wishes!

One of my most formative experiences at AOMA was as an observer in clinic with Elizabeth Fordyce.  A patient came in crying and had been dealing with excruciating nerve pain for several days. Elizabeth came in to check on her, inserted one needle and the pain STOPPED.  It was incredible to watch and showed me the power of this medicine!

Happy Anniversary AOMA!   


Want to learn more about the Master's Program at AOMA? Contact the AOMA admissions office! 

Request Information

Topics: student spotlight, acupuncture school, acupuncture students, aoma students, acupunture

5 (Attainable) Self-Care Resolutions for the New Year

Posted by Rob Davidson on Mon, Jan 08, 2018 @ 12:30 PM

AOMA New Year Resolutions Self Care

Everyone likes the idea of a fresh start at the dawn of a new year. From making resolutions for self improvement, to creating new healthy habits, and ending bad ones, we all have something to work on. Yet, we often set goals for ourselves that are unattainable, either because they aren’t sustainable, or they are simply unrealistic. What makes setting goals more effective is creating small goals for ourselves that we know can be 100% achieved. We can then build confidence in ourselves and become more inspired to cross off those bigger goals down the road.

Self care is an excellent place to start when it comes to bringing in the new year right. It can be as simple as making a few small changes that will have a dramatic, long term impact. Self care doesn’t have to mean a stringent new diet of deprivation or an abrupt new vigorous fitness routine. If our mind, body, and nutrition are all in order, it sets us up to have to more energy, better health and greater confidence in the new year.

Here, we have cultivated a list of 5 attainable self-care resolutions you can actually stick with. What’s best is that they will require minimal effort, and the rewards will be huge.

Regular Acupuncture Treatments 

AOMA acupuncture treatments

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is a complete and holistic healing system, taking care of both our mind and body. Acupuncture has shown to reduce stress and pain in many patients, depending on the underlying cause of the pain. Add a regularly-scheduled acupuncture session to your new year goals and let your energy be balanced. This will help you decrease that new year stress and allow your mind and body to stay healthy throughout the year.

Acupuncture sessions typically run between 30 minutes to 1.5 hours and can also be surprisingly affordable. You will find that many areas offer sliding scale prices, and many acupuncturists take insurance from patients. AOMA’s student clinic offers reduced-price treatments of only $30 for a 1.5 hour session. Remember to always see a licensed acupuncturist or a student intern who is supervised by a licensed acupuncturist, so you will know your practitioner has the proper training or oversight!!

Interested in what other modalities acupuncturists have to offer? Check our out blog on 8 chinese medicine treatments you may have never heard of.

Incorporate Outside Time

Austin TX outdoors relaxation

Weather permitting, spending more time outside in the new year will also help reduce stress levels. Talking a walk in nature for example can connect you with your natural surroundings, helping you unwind and relax. Nature walks can also act as a type of moving meditation. Being outside also means a much needed break from screen time, as constantly working with mobile devices and computers can cause eye strain.

Take a short 15-30 minute walk around your neighborhood or during your lunch break from work. This will reduce cortisol levels, the chemical responsible for stress. Other outdoor activities, such as walking, bicycling, hiking, jogging, or canoeing will also allow you to connect with the natural world.

We also recommend daily qigong, a system of body movements and breathing exercise taught as part of Chinese medicine. This practice can be done inside or outdoors.

Journaling - Goals & Gratitude 

gratitude journal new year

Gratitude is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean and how can you incorporate it into your life? Appreciating what you’ve been given is an excellent exercise to becoming a more fulfilled person. This can be done through starting a gratitude journal. A gratitude journal is a way to document all of the things you are thankful for each and every day. The act of journaling has been shown to help reduce mental clutter resulting in more self awareness and clarity. Using your time in nature to journal is an excellent way to unwind and connect. Journaling could also incorporate setting goals for the new year, whether they’re personal, professional or spiritual.

TCM Nutrition and Incorporating Healthy Foods

TCM nutrition

Starting a new year and trying to change your diet all together can be overwhelming, and not always beneficial. Did you know a lot of Chinese herbs are foods that can be found in local grocery stores? In addition to providing acupuncture, your Chinese medicine practitioner is also well-versed in herbology and nutrition. This is a great opportunity to work with your acupuncturist and incorporate healthier foods into your diet that will help put your body back in balance.

Chinese medicine has easy and friendly recipes such as soups and congee. Certain vegetables and herbs are excellent for supporting the immune system and creating overall balance of health. You’ll be more likely to avoid illness, and stay on top of your health goals for the new year.

Read more about TCM nutrition in our blog post "Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach to Nutrition: Eat What You Need".

Tea Time! 

Chinese herbal tea

Herbal teas can be relaxing or energizing, and they can also be used for treating various health conditions. Take some time out of your day to enjoy a hot cup of tea in a relaxing environment. Maybe substitute your coffee for green tea, or find a calming tea to drink before bed- helping your get those extra zzz’s. Traditionally, Chinese herbs are used in raw forms and steeped with boiling water, then strained for a healing tea. Depending on the type of tea you want to start drinking, you can either visit your local herb store, or see an acupuncturist to incorporate these Chinese herbs into your regular health routine.

Click below to request an appointment at one of the AOMA Acupuncture Clinics!

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Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, self-care, acupunture

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