Health Column: Love yourself first this Valentine’s Day |

Health Column: Love yourself first this Valentine’s Day

April Schulte-Barclay
Free Press Health Columnist
Getty Images/iStockphoto | iStockphoto

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, many of us are thinking of ways we can show those we love how much we value and appreciate them. While this is a worth-while goal in many ways, even more important is finding ways to love ourselves (Oh, I know, I said it!)

And often, loving ourselves means putting ourselves first.

You may be asking yourself, “Did she just suggest putting ourselves first?”

Yes, I did.

You may be thinking, “Surely she means after I care for my children, spouse, ailing parents, pets, job and house, then I’ll care for myself first.”

No, that’s not what I mean.

I mean — before feeding the kids in the morning, you feed yourself and you do it because you value yourself enough to do so.

You may be asking, “What are you talking about, lady? What kind of mother would feed herself before she feeds her own flesh and blood?”

After 10 years of clinical practice and helping folks recover from illnesses ranging from digestive disturbances to autoimmune disease to lung disease and more, it is becoming apparent to me that many of these diseases could be prevented by caring for ourselves and putting ourselves first. Caring for ourselves requires finding ways to nourish the body and spirit.

Physiologically speaking from a Chinese medicine perspective, taking care of ourselves relates directly to the “earth element,” which translates on a physical level to the digestive system.

Quite literally, avoiding self-care may result in digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, acid reflux, excess gas or bloating after eating, Crohns disease, ulcerative colitis and more. Furthermore, a weak digestive system negatively impacts all other systems of the body.

Hopefully you are now asking yourself, “How do I put myself first in a way that will strengthen my digestive system?”

Eating well is one of the more obvious examples of how we can nourish ourselves. Eating well includes eating on a regular schedule, eating nutritious and delicious foods, and sitting down to eat in a relaxed manner. Studies show these habits will lead to improved digestive function, improved metabolism, and weight management.

Other forms of self-nourishment include discovering and acting upon that which feeds the soul. Spiritual ritual, exercise, meditation, developing friendships and other healthy relationships, learning to say “no,” and partaking in new and stimulating activities are only a few examples that may fall on the list.

Sometimes we need help recognizing how imbalances in our lives (such as lack of self-love) show up in our bodies, and we could also use a “jump start” to get the digestive juices flowing in a way that optimizes our health.

Seeking care from a trusted health care professional who can and will address your health concerns from multiple angels can be just what the doctor ordered. Acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, help with meal planning, and learning relaxation techniques to promote calmness (the digestive system shuts down in times of stress) can all relieve digestive disturbances wonderfully.

This Valentine’s Day, I invite you to choose to show yourself love first. The choice is yours to make.

April L. Schulte-Barclay is the only doctor of acupuncture and Oriental medicine between Denver and Salt Lake and is a licensed acupuncturist. She is licensed by the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners and is certified by the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She is founder and clinic director of Healing Horizons Integrated Health Solutions, located at 2139 N. 12th St., #7. For more information, call 970-256-8449.

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