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The value of Health and Wellness coaching

health and wellness coaching

What is Health and Wellness Coaching?

Health and wellness coaching is a structured partnership where coaches work closely with clients to enhance health and wellness through lasting behavior changes that are aligned with the client’s values.  A health and wellness coach holds a respectful, positive, and supportive space for their clients. A recent article from Harvard Medical School entitled “Health coaching is effective. Should you try it?” shares how a Harvard Physician, Dr. Grinspoon, found that health and wellness coaching has helped people attain health goals that had previously been out of their reach. Dr. Grinspoon listed Duke Integrative Medicine as one of top four most respected training programs in the country. I received my foundational and certification training from Duke Integrative Medicine, and I agree that is a top-notch program.

 

How does it work?

It all starts with you, the client. You’re probably reading this blog because you are interested in making a change in your life to improve your health and wellness. Has there been a behavior or part of your life that you have wanted to change, but you haven’t had the tools to be successful? Has a health concern has arisen that you need to address? A coach will help you develop and realize your optimal health vision. You are the expert on yourself and your life, and the coaching partnership focuses on making and supporting meaningful changes that will work specifically for you and your unique needs.

 

Why is it effective in helping people realize their optimal health and wellness?

The coaching partnership is based on respect, non-judgement, and accountability. The coaching methodology I learned through the coaching program at Duke Integrative Medicine is based on the neuroscience of behavior change. This is a very motivating and empowering process for creating lasting change.

Specifically:

  • Coaches work with you as a whole person. They listen to your concerns and ask powerful questions to help motivate you to make the changes you desire.
  • Coaches spend time exploring what is most important to you in your overall health and wellness and allow you to choose your course of action.
  • Coaches guide you through a process to maximize your success.
  • You and your coach work in partnership to identify obstacles to change and create strategies for achieving your goals.
  • Coaches support you in tracking your progress and hold you accountable for your commitments.
  • Coaches provide additional resources as needed for making healthy behavior changes.

 

What are appropriate topics for health and wellness coaching?

Health and wellness are affected by multiple interconnected dimensions. These dimensions include physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, as well as support from healthcare providers. Any concern that gets in the way of taking care of your optimal health and wellness is the perfect place to start. Therefore, any topic you want to bring up that you think will contribute to your optimal health and wellness is an appropriate topic for health and wellness Coaching.

 

Here are some examples of potential topics:

  • Managing stress and anxiety
  • Building healthy sleep habits
  • Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Improving nutrition
  • Starting or adapting an exercise program
  • Making a career change
  • Pursuing an unachieved life goal or hobby
  • Creating a healthy and safe home or work environment
  • Navigating difficult relationships
  • Planning preventative and routine medical care
  • Quitting smoking
  • Working through a health concern like diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol

 

This is just a taste of some of the things that can be covered in health and wellness coaching. Whatever matters most to you is the best place to start.

 

Want to learn more about how Health and Wellness coaching can help you? I’d love to hear from you. Reach out and email me through our website or call or text 910-622-6960.

 

About the Author

Ericca Burke is a Health and Wellness Coach trained by Duke Integrative Medicine. She is based in Wilmington, NC, and she is available to coach clients around the world virtually. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 

 

 

Learn the ancient Chinese art of yangsheng – nourishing life

yangsheng

Why yangsheng and the art of nourishing life is important

At the start of the Chinese New Year in February 2021, I listened to a webcast from one of my favorite teachers, Lillian Pearl Bridges. Lillian is an expert on Face Reading. She can tell what’s going on with a person’s health and wellness just by looking at their face. Lillian also has a broad knowledge of Chinese astrology and Feng Shui. I have taken a number of Lillian’s classes, and I look forward to the special Chinese New Year forecast that she presents to Chinese Medicine practitioners each year.

 

This year, when Lillian shared her thoughts about the year of the Ox, she stressed the importance of practicing yangsheng. The ox is a very respected animal, and it is valued for its ability to work hard and endure. This year will require patience and an emphasis on yangsheng. Simply put, yangsheng refers to the practice of nourishing life that has been in existence and documented for other two thousand years. “Yang” translates to nurture or nourish. “Sheng” translates to life or vitality. This is a practice of self-cultivation or self-care that is believed to be crucial to overall health and longevity.

 

How to practice yangsheng

Another favorite teacher of mine is Peter Deadman. He has written a number of books on Chinese Medicine and has delved deeply into yangsheng. He states that there are three main ways to practice yangsheng:

 

First, avoid behavior that causes harm. This includes consuming alcohol excessively, smoking, eating poor quality food, allowing emotions to damage our mental health, and not being physically active.

 

Second, engage in activities that promote health and well-being. This includes eating healthfully, exercising appropriately, fostering positive emotions and managing negative emotions, practicing good sleep hygiene, cultivating positive relationships, and spending time in nature. Follow this link to read my blog on how to improve your sleep. To help manage emotions, click this link to read a blog I wrote on how to manage stress and anxiety.

 

Third, practice exercises specifically designed to nourish life. This includes qigong, taiji (also known as tai chi), and yoga.  Other yangsheng-specific activities include meditation, mindful breathing, and practicing the relaxation response. Follow this link to read a blog I wrote on how you can practice the relaxation response.

 

 

Balance and moderation are key

In our American culture, we have a tendency to overdo things, and we can become unbalanced. To practice yangsheng we need to consider a balanced approach to life. For example, some of us may be great at exercising consistently but we don’t get enough sleep. Maybe we eat really well but we also worry constantly and experience stress and anxiety. In yangsheng, balancing exercise, diet, sleep, and mental health are essential. Everything in moderation. I deeply respect this approach. In fact, the name of the Chinese Medicine school I attended, Jung Tao, translates to “middle way”. Not too far one way or the other. The middle way is preferable.

 

Even though yangsheng concepts are quite simple, they can be very difficult to put into practice. Most people will want more of something that feels good to them. If a little is good, more must be better. This can give way to overeating, overexercising, even oversleeping.

 

Time can also be challenge with so many of us leading busy lives. It is often hard to find time to do all of the things we want to do. As I have been working on cultivating yangsheng for myself this year, I find that some weeks I am successful at including exercise, but I am not able to pay as much attention to healthy eating habits. Other weeks I eat really well and make time to meditate, but do not find time to exercise. Trying to squeeze everything in can create an imbalance of activity and can be counter to the principles of yangsheng.

 

Make time to rest

Balancing doing with non-doing, or rest, is key. Creating free spaces in your day are important to balance all of the activity. What I’ve discovered is most important for me is to be kind to myself and to be as present as I can with whatever activity I am engaged in. That in and of itself is a very important part of nourishing life.

 

Want to talk about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you? I’d love to hear from you. Reach out and email me through our website or call or text 910-622-6960.

 

About the Author

Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 

 

About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.

Improve your sleep with acupuncture

acupuncture sleep

Acupuncture research on sleep disturbances

An article published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine titled Acupuncture for Treatment of Insomnia: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials discussed the prevalence of sleep issues and insomnia in adults. Estimates show that 40% of adults experience insomnia. Of this total percentage, 10-15% is identified as chronic, and 25 – 35% occurs on an occasional basis. Sleep disturbances generally involve difficulty falling asleep, and / or difficulty staying asleep. In Chinese medicine, we also consider excessive dreaming and the types of dreams that occur. Sleep deprivation can be very detrimental, with consequences ranging from delayed reactions and cognitive responses, distractedness, and headaches, to the development of mental illness.

 

Importance of sleep

An article from Harvard Medical School called In Search of Sleep shares that high-quality sleep is vital to good health. A lack of sufficient sleep has been linked to weight gain, cognitive decline, and an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

 

We do some of our best healing while we sleep. In fact, the Harvard Medical School article shared a scientific discovery of an important brain cleaning function that occurs during sleep. Scientists discovered a waste clearance system called the glymphatic system. The cerebrospinal fluid in the glymphatic system washes away harmful proteins that can build up without proper rest.

 

In Chinese medicine, the optimal time to sleep is from 10pm to 6am. This allows enough time for a person to enter a deep sleep by 11pm when the Gall Bladder is at its peak functioning time from 11pm to 1am collecting and processing bile which helps with digestion and breaks down fats. Then, the Liver reaches its peak between 1am and 3am. This is when the Liver processes and detoxifies the blood. The other two organs that reach their peak on the Chinese organ clock during optimal sleep hours are the Lungs and Large Intestine.

 

Sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene is a term used to refer to sleep habits. “Good sleep hygiene” means that there are good habits around sleep. “Poor sleep hygiene” means that the habits are not conducive to sleep. Developing a set of good habits is key to promoting healthful sleep. Here is a list of positive habits to consider:

 

  • Establish consistent sleep and wake times.

    Go to bed at the same time every night. Wake up at the same time every morning. Try to stick with this schedule even on the weekends. The body craves consistency and a predictable sleep schedule. Most people need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.

 

  • Create a quiet and dark environment.

    Close the shades and turn off all lights. This includes any blue light from electronics, including the TV, tablets, and smart phones. The bedroom should be as dark as possible. From an acupuncture perspective, the first point on the Bladder acupuncture channel is called “Bright eyes”, and it is located in the inner corner of the eyes. When the “Bright eyes” point and the eyes experience light, they send a signal to the body to wake up. This is why a dark room is so important to achieve restful sleep. The room should also be quiet, unless soft music or a sleep guided visualization is being played. The temperature should be comfortable and cool.

 

  • Do not eat before bed.

    Large meals should be avoided before bed. The stomach needs time to digest food after a meal. Ideally, food should not be consumed after 7pm. In Chinese medicine, the peak time of the stomach’s ability to function is between 7am – 9am. Conversely, the low point of the stomach’s energy occurs between 7pm – 9pm. This is the time that the stomach is slowing down and is least able to digest food effectively.

 

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed.

    Most people would agree that caffeine should be discontinued several hours before bed. While it may seem like alcohol can help people fall asleep more quickly, it actually results in poorer sleep. When alcohol is consumed before bed, the liver has to deal with processing the alcohol instead of restoring and regenerating itself. This derails the healing that would normally occur during sleep.

 

  • Exercise, though not right before bed. 

    Exercise has many benefits, including improving sleep. An article from Johns Hopkins Medicine called Exercising for Better Sleep details why it may be better to complete exercise several hours before bed. Essentially, exercise causes the body to release endorphins that can increase brain activity and make it hard to fall asleep. Exercise also increases core body temperature which gives the body the message that it is time to be awake.

 

Acupuncture for healthful sleep

There is no one-size fits all acupuncture treatment for sleep.  This is because there are many potential reasons why a person may have trouble sleeping.  Some of these possibilities include excessive thinking or worry, poor digestion, hormone imbalance, hot flashes, and pain. A Chinese medicine diagnosis and treatment is tailored to the individual, and a variety of questions are covered to identify what is going on from a Chinese medicine perspective. For example, if a person wakes up frequently during the night, knowing what time this occurs is extremely helpful to correlate this to the time on the Chinese organ clock.   The Chinese medicine diagnosis and acupuncture treatment focus on the energetic imbalance that the practitioner identifies in the patient. The overall goal is to balance the patient’s energy, which allows the body to heal itself.

 

Ear seeds

Ear seeds are a great option to include with an acupuncture treatment. They can also be used as a standalone treatment for people who are afraid of needles or are not able to see an acupuncturist. The points chosen on the ear depend on the Chinese medicine diagnosis. The practitioner selects the points that most effectively promote healthful sleep for the patient and their specific needs. Read more about ear seeds in the blog entitled All about ear seeds and auriculotherapy.

 

When to see a doctor

It’s a good idea to see a doctor if you are regularly tired upon waking and have trouble staying awake during the day. Additionally, if you have been told that you snore loudly or it sounds like your breathing stops at times, it is recommended to seek medical attention to rule out conditions like sleep apnea.

 

About the Author

Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 

 

About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.

Healing yourself with the relaxation response

relaxation response

Relaxation is key to reduce stress and improve immunity

The world is experiencing an unprecedented increase in stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since stress has been shown to weaken immunity, it is important now more than ever to find ways to manage stress. Because of the pandemic, I have temporarily stopped practicing acupuncture in my office as I transition to telemedicine. I am eager and excited to share ways that people can work on managing stress and building immunity from their own homes, like learning to practice the “relaxation response”.

 

The “relaxation response” is an amazing practice that can be done anywhere. I first heard about this term in a TedX talk given by Dr. Lissa Rankin called “Is there scientific proof we can heal ourselves?”. In her talk, Dr. Rankin gives numerous examples of the power of the mind and its ability to heal the body, including the relaxation response. Dr Herbert Benson, a pioneer in mind / body medicine, created the relaxation response term and practice. The relaxation response counters the fight-or-flight stress response that is activated quite frequently in our modern lives.

 

The relaxation response works by slowing down the rate of breathing, reducing blood pressure, and relaxing muscles. And, there is no one right or perfect way to practice this. Rather, there are many possibilities that people can consider based on what works best for them. As I studied the relaxation response, I realized that this is one of the many benefits that an acupuncture treatment can bring to patients.

 

How to practice the relaxation response at home

Dr. Benson has created a simple, nine-minute Youtube video where he guides you through the relaxation response process. Click here to watch “Relaxation Response: Dr. Herbert Benson Teaches you the Basics” on Youtube. Dr. Benson states that only two things are necessary to practice the relaxation response:

  1. A repeated word (like “peace”, “love”, or “calm”), sound, prayer, phrase, or movement
  2. Disregard other thoughts when they enter your mind and come back to the repetition

You can sit or lie down in a comfortable position to practice. Close your eyes and breathe slowly. It’s helpful if you can focus your breathing in your lower abdomen, though this isn’t necessary. Repeatedly say your word, sound, prayer, or phrase on your exhalation. If other thoughts come into your mind, Dr. Benson advises you to tell yourself “oh well”. Then, bring yourself back to the repetition and continue. Dr. Benson recommends daily practice for 10-15 minutes. Finish your practice, and take your time getting up and returning to your day.

 

If you think that this sounds a lot like meditation, you’re right! This is a powerful form of meditation. If the recommended daily 10-15-minute practice feels too long for you, start slowly. Even as little as one minute can be beneficial. Take your time, and gradually build up to a longer practice. Ultimately, having a regular daily practice of at least 10 minutes will be very effective at building immunity and countering daily stress.

 

Additional ways to practice the relaxation response

One great option to practice the relaxation response is through guided visualization. This can bring the same benefits as the meditation described earlier, but it may feel more doable because all you have to do is sit or lie down in a quiet place and listen to someone else speak. One of my favorite creators of guided visualization tools is Belleruth Naparstek. She has made over one hundred recordings available on iTunes as well as in CD format. Topics range from Immunity to Insomnia & Restful Sleep, Stress, Grief, and Anger & Forgiveness as well as number of condition-specific titles like Headaches, Menopause, and Cancer.

 

Another favorite is the 21-day medication experience collections created by Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey. Many of these collections are offered for free. Each daily audio program starts out with an inspirational message from Oprah. Deepak follows Oprah with his own words of wisdom. Deepak then suggests a meditation phrase and guides the listener in a 10-minute meditation. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Oprah and Deepak created a series called “Hope in Uncertain Times” which is available for free until May 15th, 2020. After that, it will be available for purchase. The programs last for 21 days because it has been shown that it can take 21 days to create a new habit. I have followed several of these 21-day meditation experiences, and I have purchased some of them. I will often restart a program from day one to start a new 21-day cycle of meditation.

 

Physical options

While I am a huge proponent of stillness, I also love to experience movement in a meditative form. As mentioned earlier, Dr. Benson states that movement can also elicit the relaxation response. What’s important is having a way to break the train of daily thoughts and stressors. This can be accomplished through repetitive exercise where you become immersed in the movement. Examples include yoga, tai chi, qigong, running, rowing, or even knitting or playing a musical instrument.

 

Overall, what’s most important is that you find what works for you and commit to a regular daily practice. I think you’ll be thrilled with the benefits you experience!

 

About the Author

Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 

 

About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.

Telehealth now available to patients in North Carolina

Telehealth in North Carolina

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is now offering Telehealth in North Carolina

People often ask me, “How can you practice acupuncture and Chinese medicine in North Carolina through Telehealth? What do you do when you can’t use needles?” People are surprised to learn that Chinese medicine covers much more than acupuncture. Telehealth is a great option for someone who is scared of needles or reluctant to try acupuncture. One of the techniques used during a Telehealth session is acupressure. Acupressure is the application of gentle pressure to acupressure points. Many people don’t know that acupressure can be just as effective as using needles on acupuncture points. It is easy to learn and do.

 

Telehealth is a great option for people who cannot or do not want to leave their home. This is beneficial to parents when childcare is not available, and they don’t have an option to leave the house. Sometimes personal protective equipment is not available, and people don’t feel safe leaving their homes. With Telehealth, you do not need to go into an office. Instead, you relax comfortably in your own home during a session. Another benefit of Telehealth is that patients can be located anywhere in North Carolina. You don’t have to travel to Wilmington. You can still get a customized treatment without leaving your home.

 

How it works

All you need is a computer, tablet or phone, and an internet connection. Just like in an office session, we’ll go through a comprehensive health history. This includes the medications and supplements you are taking, and previous and current conditions. We’ll discuss your primary concerns and goals.

 

Patients send me a picture of their tongue and ears before their appointment. This sounds weird, and it is! It’s also really easy to do. The pictures give me a lot of information about what is going on in the body.

 

When I review tongue pictures, I look at the size, shape, color, and qualities of the tongue. The tongue shows the status of  the major organs in the body. Looking at the tongue gives insight into how the organs are processing energy.

 

The ear is a microcosm of the body. This means that the different areas of the ear represent all of the parts of the body. For example, issues with the head can be seen on the earlobe. When I review ear pictures, I look for areas of redness, swelling, and dark or white patches. Recently, when reviewing ear pictures, I noticed markings on a patient’s ear that coincide with lower back pain. The patient had not mentioned lower back pain. During our appointment, I asked them if they had any trouble with their lower back. The answer was a surprised “Yes!” Patients are often amazed at what I am able to see just by looking at the ears.

 

Finally, I can also see what’s going on in your body by examining your face over the camera during a Telehealth session. Chinese face reading and facial diagnosis can be a very powerful tool. Various colorings, markings, and lines can give clues about overall health and what’s going on in the body.

 

Telehealth can help with many health concerns

The Telehealth sessions I offer can address many of the conditions commonly treated with acupuncture. This includes pain, headaches, digestive, respiratory, dermatological, neurological, reproductive and sleep issues. Sessions are also very effective in supporting emotional well-being, including stress, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction. Sessions can also focus on boosting immunity.

 

A customized treatment plan is developed during a Telehealth session. This may include acupressure, ear seeds, gua sha, moxa, qigong, as well as nutrition and lifestyle advice. Any tools needed are delivered or sent to the patient for home use. Detailed instructions are provided.

 

Available treatment modalities

Here’s a quick overview of the different modalities that are available:

  • Acupressure is the application of pressure to acupuncture points. This is done through gentle massage or tapping on acupuncture points.
  • Ear seeds are small seeds that are held to acupuncture points on the ear with adhesive tape. They can treat conditions throughout the entire body and often have a very calming and relaxing effect.
  • Gua sha is a gentle massage technique that incorporates a smooth-edged tool that stimulates blood flow, removes stagnation, improves circulation, produces an anti-inflammatory effect, and increases immunity to promote healing.
  • Moxa is a Chinese herb that is lit like incense. Moxa burns close to the surface of the skin and stimulates acupuncture points. It is a great tool for building immunity. It helps relieve pain, and also warms and encourages the flow of blood and “qi” (energy) in the body.
  • Qigong refers to gentle exercises that help smooth and strengthen the body’s energy.
    “Qi” means energy and “gong” means work. Qigong is a practice of working with the body’s energy.
  • Nutrition and lifestyle: We’ll discuss your current diet, exercise, stress-reduction and sleep habits. I’ll share advice on what foods may help balance your energy from a Chinese medicine perspective. I’ll give lifestyle recommendations to support you and your goals.

 

Telehealth for facial health and beauty

With so many offices and salons closed, people are excited to learn that facial procedures can easily be practiced at home. This includes lifting, toning and brightening the skin and minimizing wrinkles. I offer a facial gua sha protocol that I teach you during a Facial Gua Sha Telehealth session. I’ll give you instructions and the tools you need to practice at home. Read more about facial gua sha by clicking this link.

 

Are you located in North Carolina and interested in Telehealth? Call 910-622-6960 to learn more.

 

About the Author

Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 

 

About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. HAVEN now offers Telehealth in North Carolina. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.