Downtime for Healthy Minds

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Downtime Is Important for Growing Healthy Bodies and Minds

Now is the time to create new habits of downtime for kids of all ages. Has downtime been a concern in your family? It seems like every month there are more studies about the detrimental nature of too much screen time or over-scheduling on children’s health. It should concern all of us that children at younger and younger ages are being seen for adult sized problems like stress and insomnia.

How do you know you have a problem with overscheduling?

Have your children started complaining about their activities—even things they have always looked forward to? If your child is having trouble sleeping or is complaining about headaches, stomachaches, or feeling tired, you probably have an over scheduled child.

What is considered healthy in Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese medicine sees childhood as a seed to the future.

“According to Chinese philosophy, jing (essence) forms the material basis for the whole body.  Stored in the kidneys, jing serves as the deposited capital for reproduction, growth, development and maturation.” Source

Childhood is the time that jing is generated and stored in the kidneys. Jing ensures our bodies resistance to illness and promotes vitality. What is important to know is that as we get older, we no longer produce an abundance of jing and begin to rely on the reserves in our kidneys. Therefore, it is vital that we maintain a healthy childhood environment in order to be healthy as an adult. Another foundation of long-life health established in childhood is sleep. Sleep replenishes the body and ensures a proper balance of yin and yang. Balanced yin and yang means healthy body systems and a strong immune system. Insomnia is a burgeoning problem with youth. Research has shown that exposure to bright lights and excessive screen time in the evenings can disturb the biological clock, causing problems with sleep in both youth and adults. Children and teens need more sleep than adults and should be establishing life-long, healthy sleep habits.

What can we do?

There are many different ways you can incorporate more downtime into your children’s lives. You may need to have your children choose one or two extra-curricular activities to do in a school year, like soccer and guitar rather than soccer, band, violin, dance, and gymnastics, for example. After you have slimmed down activities, you can start to build a structure that incorporates downtime. Some families decide on a certain number of screen hours per day and some decide on no screen time on school nights. Only you can decide what works for your family. Then, you could fill your “extra” time with outside play earlier in the day and quiet activities like drawing, simple crafts, reading, or playing games in the evening. It’s important to quiet your environment and lower lights an hour before bedtime so the body can begin to wind down. It is helpful to develop nighttime rituals because they signal to the mind that it’s time to sleep.

If you’re anxious that you may be providing less learning opportunities for your child, remember that downtime is important for the development of the brain. Ease your concerns by reading research studies like this one, that found,

“Some of the most important scientific breakthroughs ever made by scientists including Einstein and Newton came about as the geniuses allowed their minds to wander, researchers say.”

Downtime is a healthy, conscious choice for your family. Relax and have fun!

Keep Warm to Store Energy in Winter

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In the winter, bears store up energy by cuddling up in a warm place and going into a hibernation sleep. It’s in their nature to nurture themselves so that they are ready to play again in Spring. Traditional Chinese medicine believes that responding properly to our environment each season will help us gain health. We have to be like the bears and stay warm and cozy in the winter.

It is important to cover our head and neck to protect ourselves from cold winds. Traditional Chinese medicine says that a person can get sick from something going out of balance on the inside of our bodies or from something in the environment affecting us from the outside. Covering up and keeping warm will help our body defend itself from environmental influences.

The place between our lower back and our lower belly is where our vital energy is stored—the energy that makes our bodies go—so it is also important to keep our lower back and bellies warm. We can do that with clothing and by eating warm food like soups and stews.

We can restore our vital energy and store it up for Spring by making sure it doesn’t get wasted fighting off the cold. Protect yourself from the cold! Cover your head, neck, belly, hands, and toes!

Welcome to our new site for kids and families!

Welcome to The Nest Kids, our new site for kids and families!

We wanted to create a space for families to hear about acupuncture from other families. We believe that personal stories of healing are precious. What better way to learn about how acupuncture at The Nest helped heal a child’s health challenge than from people who have experience it? We also want this to be a resource for parents and a place for kids to find fun activities that enhance their health and well-being.

That is why, for our inaugural post, we’d like to share a testimonial video of Nest mom’s sharing their stories of help and healing at The Nest.