Having recently asked my facebook friends what they would want me to blog about I had one of my friends asked me to write about how to get glowing skin. This is a topic I remember having a conversation about with during my acupuncture course with another student, I remember him saying that he wouldn’t want to work with people who were only thinking about beauty and not on health. I then got thinking that if someone complains why their face has prematurely aged then how did they get there? When I asked myself that question the answer became obvious, the way we look after ourselves shows in our bodies, our personalities, and of course our faces! The main bulk of what I will cover is lifestyle changes that will benefit our whole being which will show up not only in our faces, but in our bodies, our personalities , and the way we carry ourselves. What I will offer is not a quick fix but the investment into yourself will be of far more benefit overall than just applying topical treatments without addressing the underlying causes.
I’d like to begin by breaking down with the main pillars of reaching your goal. Those are right thinking/meditation, exercise, and diet . By reading this I’d like to show you the benefits of each section and maybe give you another view of how you look at living a healthier lifestyle.
You may be thinking what does my thinking got to do what my skin looks like? In this section I will take some negative emotions and explain the effects on the body.
Seeing someone angry makes us want to avoid them. An angry person’s body language is very tense and rigid with a facial expression that tends to create frowning making frown lines more apparent. Anger can be used positively when we need know how to channel it in the right direction, however if we don’t manage our anger this can lead to problems which manifest in our bodies.
In TCM ( Traditional Chinese Medicine) anger is linked to the liver and unmanaged anger leads to what is known as liver qi (life energy) stagnation which can produce symptoms such as pmt, feeling like you have a lump in throat or chest, sighing, migraine, and neck stiffness.
If symptoms are left to continue prolonged liver qi stagnation will lead to liver heat producing all the above symptoms a long with a feeling of heat, red face, and thirst. In some cases if left for a longer period of time symptoms of liver yang rising which are dizziness, tinnitus, blurred vision, dry mouth and throat, an throbbing headache affecting the eyes and lateral sides of head.
Sadness affects our energy where we don’t want to do anything, facial expression is down and we don’t want to get involved with others. “Sadness depletes qi” in TCM and with a lack of qi we see a lack of qi in our body language, personality, and our faces. Part of being attractive is having a good energy (qi) which can be seen and felt in every aspect of our presence.
In TCM the emotion of sadness/grief is linked to the lungs and when we experience sadness over a prolonged period of time this leads to depleted lung qi. Lung qi deficiency can produce symptoms such as breathlessness, tiredness, depression, makes us more likely to catch colds, and crying.
Worry puts a troubled look on our faces and distracts us sometimes from the positives that could be right in front of us. In TCM worry is linked to the spleen,if our spleen qi is healthy our digestive system is working well and on a mental level the mind able to concentrate and memorise things. When worrying isn’t kept under control that will lead to spleen qi deficiency producing symptoms such as loose stools, tiredness, weakness, and a pale complexion. Worry can also affect lung qi deficiency sometimes due to the way we carry ourselves due to these times, with our shoulders hunched forward. According to TCM “worry knots qi” meaning that the freeflow of qi will be affected in the lungs and spleen as a result of this emotion.
Fear engages our “fight or flight” system in our bodies which is good for when we are involved in life threatening situations that require us to fight off an attacker or run away from danger. Now in our day to day lives most of us don’t face life threatening situations however our bodies respond to twenty first century problems like paying bills and attending a job interview as if those situations are a matter of life and death. When the “fight or flight” response is in action we experience the following:-
This helps us pump oxygenated blood to our major muscles to prepare us to fight or run away, however if we have high blood pressure over a prolonged period of time that can lead to stroke, heart attack and many other critical heart conditions.
- Pupils dilate making things appear more colourful, larger etc
This makes what we fear to be much more threatening than what they are giving us a distorted view of what we see and perhaps over a long period of time we see smaller stressors to be much larger than what they are and can potentially make us respond excessively.
- Veins in skin contract to bring more oxygenated blood to major muscle groups
In a life threatening situation this can be a good thing and it helps us reduce the amount of potential blood loss when injured. Over a prolonged period of time the skin won’t get the nutrients from the oxygenated blood causing our skin lack it’s function and potentially lead to premature ageing.
- Blood-glucose level increases
In an immediate threat this is good as it prepares the body to supply energy to the muscles to get away from danger. If this keeps happening and we don’t use the sugar in our blood to feed the muscles through action we run the risk of getting diabetes.
- Skin and muscles tense up
Good for absorbing blows to the body during dangerous situations. Prolonged muscle tension leads to muscular discomfort and pain.
- Digestion and immune system is shut down
This helps to bring more energy to other body systems to deal with immediate threats but makes digestion difficult and the body’s natural ability to fight off illnesses much more difficult.
- Trouble focusing on small tasks
Makes us concentrate on the immediate threat of violence but when dealing with day to day tasks such as filling in a form or giving office presentations this makes us struggle to concentrate on more intricate tasks.
In TCM the emotion of fear is linked to the kidneys. Prolonged fear will deplete kidney qi causing symptoms such as incontinence, diarrhoea, and lower back pain. Long standing emotional stress that involves fear also depletes yin (cooling energy) and leads to yin deficiency heat symptoms such as agitation, red face, and dry mouth.
Having read the affects of negative emotions what are we supposed to do about it? When we have an experience that makes us feel angry, worried, sad, or fearful we can’t simply tell ourselves not to feel these emotions. What I will share with you is something that has helped me over the years to become more focused in facing negative emotions or more specifically the causes of my stress without allowing my emotions to get the better of me. Although I don’t have this information I believe that there is evidence to support that the following piece of advice does have benefits to our minds and emotions, please feel free to search the evidence for yourselves. If you are experiencing severe emotional trauma and pain please seek more specialised treatment through speaking to a GP who can refer you to a trained professional. Try the following method and see how you get on.
What I will show you is a basic meditation technique. The instructions are very simple and can be given in 3 easy steps. Here we go:-
- Find a comfortable, seated, upright posture.
- Close your eyes
- Breathe in and out through your nose keeping your attention there
Start by practicing for 10 minutes a day and slowly build up the practice to 60 minutes daily. To start with the practice can be very hard, thoughts will start to enter your mind and you’ll lose concentration on your breathing which is very normal. Just bring your attention back on your breathing and continue until the end of your practice, don’t force yourself to concentrate otherwise you’ll tense up and make yourself feel uncomfortable. Don’t be too relaxed either or else you’ll fall asleep. With time you’ll start to become more composed in your practice, ideally you will start to take this mental state into all aspects of your life becoming more focused on the task at hand and not on the emotion. We can never get rid of negative emotions but we can train our minds the same way train our muscles in the gym to handle bigger weights we can build a mind that won’t collapse under the weight of life.
Twenty first century living creates stress for the vast majority of us and when we are not doing anything with it this energy can become self destructive producing symptoms described above. The use of exercise is a healthy and constructive way to channel our “fight of flight” response. Find a way to mentally approach your exercise routine, for example I know of some people who like to visualise the cause of their anger on the bench press or on the punch bag. When feeling scared about something you may want to see the gym as a place of sanctuary, a place where you can do something constructive for yourself and be in a place of solitude allowing the subconscious to assess options.
Exercise reduces stress hormones allowing for oxygenated blood to flow where it wouldn’t in a highly stressed state. That would be the digestive system, immune system and of course your skin!
Before I go into any particular forms of exercise I would like to mention posture. Exercise doesn’t only happen in the gym or at home. How you hold yourself in day to day life affects your health, avoid slouching as this prevents us from breathing to our full capacity and stops us from taking in adequate qi from the air. Be mindful when sitting at the desk at the office or when standing at the bus stop or train station.
We have many exercise systems available to us today and I really don’t think it’s overly important what you do provided that you cover the 3 main aspects which is stamina, strength, and flexibility.
Stamina exercise could involve running, walking , cycling, and some forms of dance. In TCM if we are overweight we have a damp condition which could include other symptoms such, tiredness, feeling heavy, loose stools, oedema, and having a muzzy head. The regulation of dampness is controlled by the spleen and stomach, these two organs also help keep our bodily structures in place preventing any type of organ prolapse. When the spleen is healthy our bodies are in place which will also fight against sagging skin. One method to help clear dampness is to move by doing some form of cardiovascular exercise.
Strength training like lifting weights or doing bodyweight exercises keep us strong and prevent a weakening of our bone structure causing osteoporosis. Strength training keeps our muscles toned and the surrounding tissues firm to handle the work we put upon our bodies.
Stretching exercises found in martial arts, dance, yoga, and pilates keep us mobile to be able to move around freely without experiencing pain and discomfort. In TCM the liver is linked to the emotion of anger and the liver is also in control of our ligaments and tendons. Whenever we get angry it is very common for us to tense up making our muscles shorter and uncomfortable leading to other complaints like lower back pain, neckache, and headache. By taking the time to stretch we can work towards undoing the tension built up in our bodies before symptoms start to progress.
I like to exercise in the morning doing yoga, deep breathing, and using my kettlebell. I find that this helps me get the work done in less than 50 minutes a day, in future I will post my workout on this blog.
“Food is the source of qi” is a phrase I remember in my acupuncture class. When we want to work at our very best we need to feed ourselves well to carry our tasks and to work towards trying to make all our bodily systems function properly.
I’m not going to go through a long list of foods to eat and not eat as specifics in nutrition is outside my qualifications. I believe that most of us know the basics to a good diet. What I will share below is a few general guidelines to work with.
Give up smoking
We’ve been informed by every doctor in the Country not to smoke and the negative effects on our health are plenty. In TCM smoking has a drying effect on our bodies making us yin deficient, more specifically on our lungs causing symptom such as dry cough, dry mouth, night sweating, and dry prematurely aged skin.
Control alcohol consumption
Alcohol is a sensitive issue and when people talk about abstaining from it completely it produces mixed feelings to the people hearing it. Stay within the Government recommended guidelines and if you can do that maybe try consuming less and see how you get on. In TCM alcohol is heat and damp forming . some examples of damp heat type symptoms are Oedema, execess fat, red face, and some digestive issues.
Avoid sugary/junk foods
I think I’m stating the obvious here when I write and tell people to avoid sugary/junk foods. We all know that eating an excessive amount of crisps, burgers, chips, chocolates pizzas etc will have a negative effect effects on our bodies and are damp forming according to TCM. I know those foods taste nice. Try having one meal like this a week or one day a month where you allow yourself to eat what you like instead.
I hope that by writing this the reader can understand that good skin is alot more that applying a topical cream or getting a facial injection. The true , honest way to good healthy skin is following the above instructions and sticking with it. By sticking with this you will not only benefit your skin but your mind and your whole body!
Ok, now is time for me to show you a few things that will help boost micro circulation to your face and increase lustre. Please remember that this info is only the icing of the cake will certainly won’t have much effect if the previous advice has been ignored. The following info is designed to produce more plumpness and elasticity which helps fill out small wrinkles and tones the skin and underlying structures.
- Thumb slide across forehead
- Thumb slide across eyebrows
- Knead yuyao acupoint. Situated above the pupil of eye and on the eybrow
- Finger knead temples
- Finger kneading masseter muscles (jaw muscles)
- Knead st7 depression felt between the the zygomatic arch and mandibular notch and st6 is below st7 where the jaw bone sinks in.
- Finger slide either side of nose
- Knead li20 on the naso-labial crease and in line with the lower border of nose
- Knead st4, on the naso-labial crease and in line with the lateral corner of mouth
- St 36-find the outer knee eye and measure 4 finger widths down
- Sp6 (AVOID DURING PREGNANCY)- 4 finger widths up from the tip of the medial malleolus (inner ankle bone) and between the tibia (shin bone) and gastrocnemius (calf muscle)
Watch video on self gua sha