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Life on Your Terms

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. No Comments

Today’s article is one that I have had some resistance to writing as it explores a motivation to managing stress which some may have difficulty with.  The motivation is that it is your duty to those around you to keep your emotions and stress in check.

Much of the time, the last thing someone who is depressed, anxious, angry, frustrated, or stressed wants to hear is how they should be thinking about others. The person who cut you off in traffic clearly wasn’t thinking about you, why should you take on more emotional responsibility than them? This motivation isn’t really appropriate for an acute flare of stress but is better thought of as a reason for longer term management.

I was motivated to write this after doing a lot of mental and emotional processing these past two weeks. I have recently taken a Search and Rescue basic class and a civilian first responder training as well. I have also been reading a book about how to work with people who I disagree with on a fundamental level. What came out of all this is the need for me to remain calm and not become frustrated with the situation or with those who I am trying to communicate with.

Managing one’s emotions and stress is difficult. Others will generally not show you the courtesy of managing their own emotions or avoiding causing you undue frustration in the first place. As such you may feel like others are abusing your courtesy. But if the motivation of duty to others helps you to control your emotions then consider these points:

  1. Does your anger or frustration accomplish your goal?

    Usually getting pissed off only helps to make the situation worse, depletes your energy, and makes it harder for people to trust and work with you. Yes, the person who aggravated you may have deserved it, but if you still need to work with them you have now made things more difficult. In the training I went through, if I do not control my emotions then I am less capable of helping others and worse, I become a drain on resources to those I am working with.

  2. Is the person intentionally causing you frustration?

    Most of the time people cause problems for others without knowing it. They may not understand what it is they are doing which is upsetting you. Becoming upset with someone who doesn’t know any better only fosters resentment.

  1. Is this how you would want someone who respects you to solve their problems?

    If you have a kid, would you want them acting this way to solve their problems? Are you setting a good example for them?

After this time of reflection, I have come up with a guideline for dealing with stress which I hope you will find useful.

  1. Consider if this individual understands that they are upsetting you.
  2. Set boundaries.

    If you allow people to walk all over you, then you will become a doormat. You have to stand up for yourself (see more on this in the next step) and be confident enough to value yourself and not let others scare you. You don’t need to fight a war with everyone, but you don’t have to be rolled over because they don’t think about you either. Be brave and stand up for yourself, but also be willing to make reasonable compromises.

  3. Take action to prevent this from occurring when possible.

    This step is key. I think much of the frustration we see is a result of people not addressing their issues with others. This could be because of social politeness, troubles with a superior, or expected professional behavior. Sometimes, such as with rude drivers, our ability to redress a grievance is nearly non-existent. But with others, a bit of creativity and backbone will help. Ask them if they would like to be treated the way they just treated you. If need be, document their behavior. If you believe that the way they are treating you is out of ignorance, try to educate them, but gently.

The world we live in is not perfect. People are neither angels nor devils, nor are they psychic. Expecting everything to go your way is foolish, but if you can control your emotions you will be a better example to those who matter to you, and you will live your life on your own terms to a greater extent than if you allow your life to control you.

No More Shingles

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. No Comments

Shingles have come up a couple times this past week so this article is dedicated to that.

Until the chicken pox vaccine came out, most of us would get the virus as a kid, itch for awhile, and then be done with it. Once you had chicken pox you generally could not get sick from the disease again. However, the virus lingers in your body, dormant, at the base of your nerves. Like a sleeping dragon, shingles is the adult form of chicken pox and can surface if your body become ill, over stressed, or weak.

This correlation between the nerves and a weak immune system is what is of particular interest. Proper functioning of the thyroid is an important part of nerve health. If your thyroid is not working well then your nerves cannot accomplish the regular upkeep they need, which may result in shingles. Shingle blisters occur on one side of the body and will follow a nerve band which may end up correlating with other health issues as each nerve ties into other muscles or organs in the body. Your acupuncturist could use this to determine what parts of your body need to be strengthened to improve your health.

Proper functioning of the thyroid is dependent on having healthy intestines, liver, gallbladder, and adrenals. These can be improved and maintained by nutrition and supplements which means your acupuncturist can help you determine the specifics. Typically you are looking at supplementation with vitamin D and a probiotic at least though depending on what you present with there may be other suggestions made, especially if you do have a thyroid issue. To deal with the nerves you may wish to seek out various B vitamins (1, 6, and 12), vitamin C, E, and Omega 3s. Getting treatment early is particularly advised as nerves do not heal quickly.

So in summary, if you are worried about getting shingles, or already have shingles:

    • check your thyroid function
    • if thyroid function is poor, assess your adrenals, digestion, and liver
    • supplement accordingly
    • seek out appropriate treatment

Keeping your New Year’s Resolutions

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. No Comments

I want to lose weight.

I want to be a better person.

I want more control over my life.

These are some of the most common goals that people have with the coming of a new year. In the past, I have talked about the stoic philosophy and how that can be used to help someone deal with hardship, but there are some clarifications to that which I will address today.

Typically the stoic mindset is about realizing what one controls, how one can work to expand that control, and setting goals accordingly. However, this can be done backward and with a more positive outlook. Simply put:

Assume victory, now plan your conquest.

In effect; What is your goal? and How are you going to get there?

Some suggestions:

  1. Set small, measurable, goals.

This allows you to see progress and breaks things into manageable chunks. You lose weight one pound at a time. You develop a better personality and gain more control day by day. It doesn’t all come overnight.

  1. Do not set too many goals.

    Trying to lose weight while developing a better personality, learning a new language, and growing your career all at the same time is not recommended. You end up over stressing yourself and not moving forward on anything. Work on a few priority goals, then move on once those have been completed.

  2. Thoroughly research and define your goals before planning.

    For me to become a field deployable member of Texas Search and Rescue there are several steps, which are a little tricky to find out. I can avoid a lot of frustration by looking into what needs to be done each step of the way and planning accordingly. If you are looking at loosing weight or becoming more in shape, these are two distinct goals. You may think you want to lose 10lbs but if you lost 2 and converted 8 into muscle would that be acceptable?

Intentional change and growth is not easy. It requires persistence and focus, but if it were easy it wouldn’t be worth doing. As Kensho Furuya states in his book Kodo:

“There are two roads to the final enlightenment. One flies toward the heavens like a giant dragon. The other burrows into the earth like a tiny worm.”

Instant success is unlikely, but we can all strive day by day to reach our goals.

Our Daily Pain

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. No Comments

I hurt everywhere.

I cannot sleep.

I cannot think.

Why is this happening?

Fibromyalgia is a nasty condition. It wrecks lives and leaves its victims weak and in pain. It is also a condition with many symptoms and few answers. There is no conclusive cause for the condition and at times the diagnostic criteria are so broad that one could easily be misdiagnosed or classified as having a different condition.

Fibromyalgia has had at least two diagnostic criteria, starting in 1990 then getting a notable revision in 2010. Beyond these two there have been revisions by various people and organizations which makes getting a consistent diagnosis extremely difficult. Suspected causes of fibromyalgia range from brain chemistry dysfunction, nerve abnormality in the hands, and even gut bacteria. Generally, fibromyalgia is handled as a rheumatoid condition, though I am not certain that this is appropriate.

In my own experience, people who suffer from fibromyalgia fall into a category of conditions shared by those who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Chron’s Disease, Chronic Fatigue (CFS), and thyroid dysfunction. I touched on this in my previous article. The trouble with these sorts of conditions is that it becomes difficult to tell where one begins and another ends. Did one lead to another?

Thankfully, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is holistic and adaptive to the person. Because TCM views the person as a whole, and not as a set of symptoms, an acupuncturist can develop a treatment protocol based on getting you to your best state of health. It may not be perfect, but it will be an improvement. Acupuncturists, and other holistic practitioners, do not need a full understanding of fibromyalgia to develop an effective treatment. This is accomplished by assessing your body’s functions and strengthening any weak areas with herbal supplements, diet, and acupuncture treatments, to improve your body’s circulation, use of nutrition, and resources. If you are suffering from fibromyalgia I urge you to remember:

You can get better

You do not deserve to suffer

People care about you

Stop Hating Your Guts

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. one comments

Do you feel tired?

Do you have sore muscles?

Decreased sex drive?

Depressed?

Well this isn’t an ad for some new wonder drug, but if those symptoms sound like you then your body may be telling you something.

The food we eat is important. It powers our body, gives us energy, and does all the daily maintenance and repair that we need. That is if we are eating well. Food is very much like gasoline, the higher quality, the better the car, our body, runs. However if the gas is low quality the car will still run, but it will not perform as well. Over time this will eventually result in the car breaki05-03-2002-eng-01ng down faster.

Poor quality food is much like low-quality gas. It will keep you going, but sooner or later it is going to cause problems. The daily maintenance and repair that good quality food provides doesn’t happen with junk food and instead of giving your body energy, it slowly poisons you.

This poison results in inflammation in the gut. Given enough time this inflammation will damage intestines and spread to the rest of the body resulting in heartburn, ulcers, Irritable Bowl Syndrome, Chron’s and fibromyalgia.

This is why Robb Wolf, Chris Kresser, and other have been going on about the paleo diet and various modifications to it. By improving the quality of your food your body can start the self-repair and maintenance which it has fallen behind on. Your guts are your immune system, and they cannot function properly on a poor diet. Your energy, stress tolerance, pain level, and sex life are all determined by the food you are eating.

So when you feel the desire to cheat on your diet because that bowl of ice cream looks so tasty, or you had a hard day, just think about what you are about to do. How is your body going to pay for it? Is the indigestion really worth it? What about the energy crash? Maybe instead of thinking of these sweet treats as wonderful treats we should see them for the white elephant they really are.

Why Do I Hurt There?!

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. No Comments
Why Do I Hurt There?

OUCH!

You just fell and now the right side of your back is sore. That’s normal, you fell on that side.

Wait a minute! Why does your left side hurt too?

If you have ever suffered an injury and then realized a few days later that you are feeling pain on the opposite side from where you were hurt, then it is possible you are experiencing complimentary pain. Read More

Thyroid and Pain

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. No Comments
Thyroid and Pain

I had a lesson this week in why a holistic approach to healthcare is so important. Pain management, which is my focus, is not just the simple treatment of sore muscles or tingling nerves; no, if I want to actually make a difference and help my clients I need to go deeper than this. Why are the muscles and nerves hurting in the first place? Read More

From Chaos to Calm

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. one comments
From Chaos to Calm

With the election over and the holidays fast approaching, it may be wise to revisit some of the principles of stoicism which I have spoken on before in a podcast, “Mental Stress Management and Stoicism.”

William Irvine’s book, Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, is a philosophy book that can also serve as a self-help guide. Normally, I am not thrilled with self-help books as they tend to push the reader to adopt a “Pollyanna” approach to life—suggesting people to remember the pleasant more than the unpleasant. Such an approach is unreasonable as there are real problems in life, and bad uncontrollable things do happen. At times, one is perfectly justified to express anger, sadness, disappointment, etc. The challenge is to not let these emotions consume you. Irvine’s book covered five key points to the stoic philosophy which can help one deal with stress. Read More

The Limits of Acupuncture

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. No Comments
The Limits of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a strange practice…for most Westerners.

It is a system based on the combination of Eastern esoteric principles and anatomical principles. It uses a very different language, or jargon to be more specific, for describing its treatment of disease and injury than is seen in Western medicine. In the media, acupuncture is often associated with mysticism and martial arts. There are several claims about what acupuncture can cure, including terminal autoimmune diseases such as cancer. These claims have led many to question both the effectiveness of acupuncture and the integrity of its practitioners. Read More

Tension and Training

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. No Comments
Tension and Training

I am a physically active person and have been for several years. I enjoy rock climbing, dance, calisthenics, and martial arts. I worked on physically active volunteer projects like building houses and doing landscaping work—and soon I hope to be volunteering with Search and Rescue groups. As a result of a highly active lifestyle, I understand the frustrations and inconvenience of injuries, aches, and sprains. Muscle tension usually works against our will, keeping us down, and gets in the way of our goals.

But that isn’t always the case. Read More

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