I have always been fascinated with mixing up the ancient with the modern – in fact, it’s one of the reasons I was so drawn to studying Traditional Chinese Medicine. What can such an ancient system of health that was largely developed from observations offer us today? Is any of it even relevant anymore? The world is so different now, fast-paced and traditional roles have changed too. The underlying principal in Chinese Medicine is one of restoring balance and harmony in all parts of the human being as well as between the person and its environment. It’s very heavily focussed on self-care, prevention and providing ways to overcome ‘disharmonies’, which is the word you hear in place of ‘illness’.
If you think about that for a moment, does being in balance with your daily environment even seem possible to you if your environment happens to be largely frantic, fast-paced and work driven? Surely the only way to find balance amongst that sort of environment is to walk away from it and well, go and sit on a beach or on top of a mountain and meditate? Hardly a realistic solution for the modern working woman on a day-to-day basis.
To make matters worse, modern working women are very often suffering with ‘Wonder Woman Syndrome’ or WWS. Now, I have suffered with this in the past, as have many of my friends, as well as many of the women that have come in to my clinic over the years.
The chances are, you are suffering with this too or know someone that is.
WWS is where you take something on and then strive to be the very best at it – no matter what. That could be in your role as a mother, career women, entrepreneur, friend, lover, daughter or what is most likely – all of them!
Sufferers tend to be women that love to strive forward, maybe even have something to prove (even without knowing what that something is) have ambition, have inner fire, see failure as ‘not an option’. These are powerful and strong women, on the outside at least. These are the women that get stuff done, that you can rely on, have accolades or are trailblazers.
Wonder Women need to stay healthy.
The world needs women like this.
As part of my continual quest to blend relevant ancient wisdom with modern day living, below are a few simple tips for women to manage their inner wonder woman. I also wholeheartedly recommend the beach and the mountains for that meditation as well, but the below are more realistic for most.
1. Thinking about when you have felt unwell in the past and needed to take a day off – what was going on in the weeks and months before? Can you identify the root cause? Were you pushing yourself too hard, not resting enough, neglecting yourself? This awareness will serve you well going forward. Getting in to the mindset of prevention of dis-ease is one of the most useful shifts we can take towards better health and balance.
2. Be mindful of your energy reserves as these are your life-blood, your elixir. According to traditional Chinese medicine we are born with a certain amount of ‘essence’ or ‘jing’– the level you are born with is known as your ‘pre-heaven essence’ which we would view nowadays as a person’s basic constitutional make-up, strength and vitality that is inherited from the parents at conception. It’s pretty fixed but we can stop it from being decreased by striving for balance between work and rest and having a balanced diet – if balance is out we risk diminishing these essential reserves. One of the simplest ways to positively influence this ‘essence’ is through breathing exercises and such exercises as Qi Gong. Luckily, we can increase our levels of ‘post-heaven essence’ as this is what our body extracts from food, hence the importance of diet in building our reserves.
3. Understand where your will power is stored. Will power or ‘Zhi’ is so important in Chinese medicine that it has even been given a home! The Chinese organ system of the Kidneys is said to be the “residence” of ‘Zhi’ – the mental drive that gives us determination and single-mindedness to pursue goals. If the Kidneys are strong, the will power is strong and the mind will be focused on goals. If the Kidneys are weak, will power is lacking and we become easily swayed and can veer off track. The Kidneys just so happen to store the Essence mentioned in point 2 – they are certainly fundamental and often referred to as the “Root of Life.” We can nurture and even nourish our Kidneys and ensure they are good residence by understanding what effects them:
• Firstly, overwork will weaken the Kidneys. This includes long term stress, lack of relaxation, eating hurriedly, working long hours, physical as well as mental over working, eating late at night and even irregular schedules. Working to the excess will force the body to use up the energy stored in the kidneys as it’s not finding enough from the ‘post heaven’ source.
• Secondly, there are emotions that can negatively impact the Kidneys – the main one is fear which includes anxiety and shock. Finding ways to overcome such emotions can help preserve your Kidneys as the power houses they need to be
• Thirdly as well as having a hereditary component, Kidney strength declines naturally with age so keeping Kidneys strong and nourished puts you in the best position for aging.