Marsha Haller, MD, Medical Acupuncture

Learn how to take care of yourself


We all have to live. In order to do so, there are certain things we all have to do: eat, drink, sleep, experience emotion and thought, interact with our neighbors on the planet.  At every stage of the game. We, having this discussion, are among the peoples of the earth who have the most control over how we accomplish these basic tasks and needs. Every one of us, whatever the condition of our minds, bodies or spirits has to perform bodily functions and find meaning in life. So, let us look at the ways we can approach these activities that will lead us on a healthy path for ourselves as individuals, and as members in the larger community of life.

Try to learn how to take care of yourself—no one else is going to do it for you.

 I am very cautious when I use this phrase. It is too easy to use the notion of individual responsibility as a way of “blaming the victim” for problems related to larger issues such as unhealthy work or living environment, availability of healthy food, and systemic racism, to name a few. These all place untoward stress on our mind-body-spirit and leave us feeling powerless or ill.

With that said, identifying something, however small, that you can do at a challenging time can literally change your nervous system, your hormones and your health.   The question “how do I best take care of myself around this particular situation at this particular moment in time? is a good starting place to help you find options when you thought there were none.  What follows are a few easy practices that are readily available and do not require money, time or special training .

Take a “five minute vacation” change what your body and brain are doing!  5 minute vacation ideas:

  • Think about something or someone you love dearly and let the joy and peace of that memory fill you.  Practice day dreaming about lovely things, so that you can summon them up easily when the need arises.  There is neuroscience research behind this.  Imagining an event will activate same sites in your brain as does the actual event.  (Conversely, excessive reliving and rehashing bad of experiences helps keep your brain and your body chemistry in the same state as when the awful event happened.)
  • Take off your shoulder bag or backpack, and wiggle your shoulders or stretch your neck, scratch your scalp to make it tingle and brighten your eyes.
  • Shake out your arms and legs, stretch, swing your arms, do a little dance move.
  • Wash your face, walk around the block, go to the bathroom.
  • Before you go back to the “real world”, take a long, deep breath, then let it out even more slowly. (You might try breathing in to a count of 4, then letting it out for a count of 8.  Repeat a few times if you can.) This will help you to retain your calm when you dive back into the fray.

Look at your posture.  Your eyes are probably rolling at this one, but consider that:

  • Poor alignment puts extra strain on joints and ligaments, and encourages the development of trigger points in muscles. (Think shoulder bags and keyboarding.)
  • If you jut your head forward, it weighs much more than if it were resting on top of the spine, making your head feel like it weighs 50 pounds rather than 12.  That’s rough on your poor neck!
  • All the acupuncture or trigger point deactivation in the world can come to naught if the person does not change the way they use and carry their bodies, and develop new patterns.
  • Identify movements and actions that put you at risk. Figure out good sleeping and working positions, and use the right tool for the job you are doing.
  • Alexander technique is the most effective way I know to change the old postures that have been engrained in the body and mind for years.

One thought on “Learn how to take care of yourself

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *