Archive for tag: stress

One of Those Kinds of Posts

Ok, I'll do one--one of those kinds of posts. I usually think it's more interesting and relevant to share information about some topic of concern or awe to those of us in alternative medicine, but this time I'm just going to do what the original intention of this AOM blog probably was. I'm going to share what it's like to be an acupuncture student fighting her way towards the end of the trimester.

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Now, I'm not fighting because I'm bored, confused, or frustrated with my classes. On the contrary, I enjoy the nights I get to drive in a car by myself and sit quietly for 4-5 hours learning about something I love. It's the most relaxing part of the day. Hey, I have active young children, a messy husband, and a sometimes too-demanding teaching schedule to juggle all day. Give me a graduate night class any day of the week!

No, I'm not fighting in a bad way. I'm excited to reach the end of this trimester because the day after it ends, I'm getting on the airplane for Nicaragua. Two weeks in Central America is just what the doctor ordered for this stressed out, over-committed student. I'd love to say I'm a good flier, but that wouldn't be true. With that missing Malaysian plane, I'm going to be grinding ear seeds into my PC6 points until they're bleeding. Awesomely inopportune time for that mysterious tragedy. Not to be insensitive, but I barely make it through my flights as it is. Rescue remedy? Yep, I'll be using that heavily.

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The past several months have been leading up to this medical mission trip, and soon I know it will be here, then already--sadly--behind me. Since last year's trip, I haven't been able to get that clinic off my mind--not that I want to! NDI's integrative healthcare clinic serves so many appreciative and needy people, and it's the only medical setting I've ever experienced where providers of several medical fields all circle around and get to take a crack at each patient who walks in the door. I know that when I start my first shift, a middle-aged Nicaraguan farmer will come into the clinic with the chief complaint of back pain. If I used a machete all day, I'd develop back pain, too. Instead of that patient being confined to the limits of one provider's medicine, this patient will reap the benefits of the naturopath, the chiropractor, the acupuncturist, the psychologist, and the massage therapist on staff at the same time. He might get an adjustment, soft tissue work, some needles, and even a tincture for the road. I can't get that sweet deal anywhere in the United States, that's for sure. Did I mention it's free? Sign...me...up.

This is the future of medicine, people.This is it. Integrative medicine is the way. True, I have to get on an airplane to immerse myself in it at this point, but I promise you one thing--I'll bring it back.

Make Time to Take Time

Make time to take time...for yourself, that is. As we students return to the NUHS classes this week, after a well-needed winter break, many of us find that we aren't quite as well rested as we thought we'd be. Personally, I envisioned a two and a half week stint of total relaxation...or, at least, as relaxing as life can be with two young children! Instead, what I got was the usual hectic schedule of drop-offs and pick-ups, with my own work crammed in between appointments and holiday travels.

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The welcoming sight of a snow-covered Lombard campus as we returned for the "spring" trimester.

Yes, that's right. I came back to campus in January just as stressed out as when I walked off after my last final exam back in December. How did this happen? After talking with some classmates this week, I quickly realized that I was not alone. Sure, a few people took it easy and maintained the "AOM" lifestyle of healthy eating and weekly acupuncture treatments. Lucky them. The rest of us overindulged with the holiday treats and put the exercise routines on hold while we visited relatives and friends.

What's wrong with us? Don't we, students of acupuncture and oriental medicine, know better? Don't we know that a relaxing and rejuvenating acupuncture session is even more important when we are stressed out by final exams and holiday travels? It turns out, we're just like everyone else. We don't always practice what we preach. And, the prognosis isn't great for our future actions, either. An article in Newsweek  revealed that 44% of male doctors are overweight or obese (Kalb, 2008). Sure, this is better than the average American statistic, which puts around 65% of Americans as either overweight or obese, but it's not role-model material! (Kalb, C. (2008). Drop That Corn Dog, Doctor. Newsweek, 152(15), 17.)

If we don't take the time to make time for ourselves--for our health and well-being--now, as students, then how can we become a strong force for good in our future patients' lives? I want to model the behavior and lifestyle that I am explaining to my patients. If I can't prioritize and sacrifice to make time for my own acupuncture sessions and yoga classes, then why should a patient take my advice to do so? If they see me wolfing down my fast food in between appointments, then why should they look to more healthy options for their own lunch?

My personal path this year will be to slow down, to be more aware of my choices and my priorities, and to model the lifestyle and mindset that I want to introduce to others. Welcome, 2014.