Working 15 hour days, tied to computer screens and concentrated thinking for hours at a time, is becoming an increasingly common story amongst my patients. These high levels of stress and tension affect everyone differently but exhaustion, sleeping problems, back pain or digestive problems are all common. Yesterday, after her treatment, a patient said:
“At work I was feeling like a string of Christmas lights that is all tangled up, and now I feel smoothed out and the wires lie in nice straight lines”
In Chinese medicine, continuous hours of hard mental work drain our energy in a particular way. It drains our Yin energy. In health our Qi energy is balanced between Yin and Yang. Yin is our calm, cool, stamina and Yang is our quick, hot, high speed energy. Think bank accounts. Your current account is your Yang energy – easy to access and to use up, but it can be topped up from your deposit account. Your deposit account is your Yin energy – your reserves of energy which can be drawn on over time but shouldn’t be emptied. Acupuncture can help the body to nourish and strengthen your Yin, which is why my patient finds it helpful in her attempts to cope with the stress of work. But she also needs to find ways to stop draining her Yin. The good news is that even short breaks from intense mental work allow the body to rebuild Yin. Take just five or ten minutes every hour or two for a short walk, a quiet few moments over a drink, or a walk up and down the stairs. The bad news is that this simple advice is extremely difficult to carry out!