San Joaquin’s Experts Weigh in on How to Master Self-Care, Health, and Wellness in 2019
It’s officially 2019, and the phrase “living your best life” has long been in circulation. But how many of us actually put effort into our personal wellbeing? Sure, the idea of wellness can seem luxurious to some—not all of us have time to take a candle-lit bubble bath—but sustainable wellness is less about luxury and more about making sure your needs are being met. To help you get there, we sat down with five experts on various ways to wellness so that you can make 2019 your best year yet.
Dr. Eunice Green
Natural Health Expert
For Dr. Eunice Green of Green’s Nutrition in Stockton, the modern world is a paradox of health: on one hand, healthy foods and lifestyles are trending—on the other, the modern American is still consuming up to 500 calories of sugar daily and eating more processed foods than ever before.
“It’s kind of amazing to me how many people still think that fast food is good for you; even vegetarians think that it’s okay to eat McDonald’s French fries,” states Dr. Green. “You know what one of the best ‘fast foods’ is? Eating an apple,” she quips.
With every company jumping on the “all-natural” bandwagon, though, it can be hard to tell the difference between what’s healthy and what’s just a marketing slogan. That’s why Dr. Green studies companies very carefully before she puts their products on her shelves at Green’s Nutrition—with her degree in Respiratory Therapy and a Doctorate from the Holistic Lifestyle Institute, Dr. Green takes natural health seriously.
“Natural health really just means using nutrition and botanicals as a means of achieving health rather than using pharmaceuticals,” she says. “Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t use any pharmaceuticals—there’s a time and place for those—but natural health includes everything non-processed: food, herbs, vitamin and mineral supplements, homeopathy… Anything that is natural, from the earth.”
For those interested in revamping their diets, Dr. Green offers one-on-one consultations in which she evaluates both the health of a client’s diet and emotional wellbeing.
“Everything that goes on in our heads transfers to some kind of physical reaction,” states Dr. Green. “But it’s a two-way street: what goes on in our body also affects us emotionally and mentally.”
As far as all the toxic things in the modern diet, Dr. Green has a special loathing for sugar.
“It’s a toxic substance; it’s wreaks havoc with all systems of the body,” she says. “The more natural you can eat and the more you cook at home, the better off you’re going to be.”
Dr. Green’s 4 Tips for Natural Nutrition:
- It’s essential to take a quality multi-vitamin. But not all multi-vitamins are created equal—top quality supplements can most often be found at your local health food store.
- Avoid consuming high amounts of sugar and processed foods.
- Listen to your body: when you eat something, pay attention to how you feel after.
- Get educated! Join one of the many workshops at Green’s Nutrition and learn about everything from natural herbs to essential oils.
Holistic Healing Expert
When you receive spiritual gifts from your ancestors, you can’t run away from them—so says Sean Agcaoili, founder of Holistic Alchemy, and healer/ceremonialist at Stockton’s esoteric boutique, Dragonfairy.
In the Philippines, Sean’s maternal great-grandmother was known as a Manghihilot: a practitioner of Hilot, the indigenous Filipino massage and healing practice. Manghihilots have the ability to detect and correct congestion in the body, misalignments in the skeletal structure, as well as energy imbalances.
Most of the children in Sean’s family were gifted in the art of massage, including Sean. But Sean was also a natural at energy healing, and soon developed skills in Reiki and other esoteric healing practices.
Today, he uses his ancestral gifts daily to help anyone who enters Dragonfairy, most of whom come in search of spiritual answers.
“Within this system, we’re told to go to school, get a degree, get married, have kids, and then retire—I feel like it’s a false system,” states Sean. “I’ve seen an increase in people with anxiety and stress, and it’s because they’re not fulfilling the light within themselves.”
In order to fulfill that light, however, you have to find it. But don’t worry, you don’t have to spend days in meditation to get there: “People just need to be true within themselves, and be vulnerable and raw with what they’re feeling,” says Sean. “The number one issue is people not loving themselves.”
There are also several healing modalities within the esoteric, mystical fields that can help you connect with yourself and your spiritual side. Aside from meditation, there’s Reiki, crystals, sound therapy, aroma therapy, and much more. At Dragonfairy, Sean offers a service he calls “Medicine Alchemy”, which combines multiple modalities to provide the client with a deeper spiritual experience.
“No healing modality is better than the other,” states Sean. “Every spiritual tradition has their own version: Prayer, meditation, cleansing, etc. Each one attempts to heal our problems within by repairing our connection with the divine, ourselves, and the earth.”
It’s also important to remember that the spirit can’t be healthy unless the body is, too. “There’s that saying, ‘Mind, body, and spirit,’” quotes Sean. “One goes down, everything goes down.”
Sean’s 3 Tips for Spiritual Health:
- Love is the greatest medicine and protector—love yourself and others.
- Nourish your body and spirit by eliminating toxic diets: eat healthy, unprocessed foods and drink more water.
- Intention is everything, so always dedicate your work for the highest good.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Mental health: In years past, the topic was taboo, discussed only in hushed tones. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case; these days, the phrase is a positive one, often used as a synonym for “self-care”. Thus, therapy—the direct route to repairing mental health—has become more normalized as well.
“There’s a lot of comfort to be found in therapy,” states Licensed Clinical Psychologist Dr. Kristina Dulcey-Wang. “When you seek help for a problem, you’ll often find that others know what you’re feeling and have experienced what you’re going through.”
Dr. Dulcey-Wang says that while the upswing in mental health-awareness is evident, many people still feel the pressure to live by the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” attitude.
“While that mindset can sometimes be helpful, the risk is that it makes people apprehensive to seek mental health services,” Dr. Dulcey-Wang explains. “It also creates isolation within relationships—you’re not going to want to reach out to a friend when you’re going through a hard time if you think they’re going to be unsympathetic.”
If you notice changes in your behavior, mood, appetite, or an increase in sleep or irritability, these indicate that you’re stressed. If you find that your normal coping skills aren’t working to deal with these factors, therapy can provide you with the tools you need to feel better.
“Therapy helps patients to gain skills that maybe they haven’t developed before,” states Dr. Dulcey-Wang. “Developing coping mechanisms, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, or just learning to be more assertive can really help a client navigate their personal trials.”
The main thing to avoid is self-medication. Watch your alcohol consumption and refrain from drug use. If you decide that you want to try therapy in 2019, Dr. Dulcey-Wang advises patients to make a list of qualities they’d like to see in their therapist and then narrow down the list from there.
“It’s often a process of finding someone who’s personality and style fit you as well as their expertise. If you happen to go and it doesn’t fit, don’t be afraid to try someone else.”
Dr. Dulcey-Wang’s 4 Tips for Optimal Mental Health:
- Make sure you have a good social network; be intentional and put effort into fostering positive relationships.
- Being familiar with yourself: Know which activities bring you joy, relaxation, and stress relief.
- Express gratitude. Train yourself to find things big or small to be grateful for every day.
- Pay attention to your vulnerability factors: diet, exercise, alcohol consumption, and sleep. Keeping an eye on all these things will help you be happier and healthier.
GET SOME SLEEP
Dr. Ronald Kass
Contrary to the phrase “beauty sleep”, catching enough Z’s can do more than boost your looks—having an adequate amount of sleep every night helps with memory, benefits your mood, improves your concentration and productivity, and strengthens your immune system.
But these days, it seems a good night’s sleep is hard to come by. Dr. Ronald Kass, D’ABIM in Sleep Medicine, sees patients every day who are afflicted with Sleep Apnea, Restless Leg Syndrome, Narcolepsy, and Insomnia at the Pacific Sleep Disorder Center in Stockton.
“The increase in sleep issues in this country has a lot to do with the obesity epidemic,” states Dr. Kass. “In countries where obesity isn’t as common, only 2-4 percent of people have Sleep Apnea. In America, the last study found that Sleep Apnea affected 10 percent of women and 24 percent of men.”
And don’t assume the only downside to Sleep Apnea is the snoring. According to Dr. Kass, the treatment and identification of Sleep Apnea is one of the most important medical issues of our time. “We now know that those with Sleep Apnea also have high blood pressure and Diabetes which can lead to strokes and heart attacks. It also leads to Alzheimer’s.”
Another reason Americans are losing sleep? Screen time.
“Electronics do interfere with sleep—the blue light that’s emitted from the cell phone can prevent your brain from processing melatonin and will keep you awake,” explains Dr. Kass. “I recommend that sensitive patients should avoid being on their cellphone, laptop, or iPad for at least one hour before they go to bed.”
Lack of sleep can cause a myriad of problems, including weight gain, high blood pressure, mood swings, lethargy, and lapses in memory. It can inhibit your social function, athletic ability, and impair your ability to drive. If readers are experiencing snoring, unexplained fatigue, or have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about seeing a sleep specialist.
Dr. Kass’ 5 Tips to a Better Night’s Sleep:
1. Go to bed at around the same time each night.
2. Limit screen time before bed and caffeine intake to one cup before 10 AM.
3. Try to exercise earlier in the day instead of later.
4. Have a cup of chamomile or Sleepy Time tea before you go to sleep.
5. If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep, don’t look at the clock. Instead, turn it away from you.
The ancient healing practice of acupuncture can assist in many types of pain relief, ranging from migraines to neck and lower back pain. While many assume the treatment is painful, at Inner Balance Medicine in Lodi, Licensed Acupuncturist Connie Schwartz practices the Japanese Meridian style of acupuncture, where the goal is for the patient to not feel the needles at all.
“The Japanese have a strong but delicate kind of culture, and their method of acupuncture reflects that by being a lot more energy based—the practitioner should feel the patient’s qi through the needle, not the other way around.”
But what exactly is qi? And why should it warrant a needle being stuck in one’s body?
“Qi is your body’s energy,” says Connie. “We all have self-made energy to keep our bodies functioning, it’s your life force. Qi keeps your organs working, your blood circulating… It’s what allows us to take a breath.”
Ideally, your qi should always be flowing steadily. However, energy blockages do occur, often manifesting as illness or pain. It’s the acupuncturist’s job to diagnose these blockages and insert the needles into the correlating points in the body. The treatment both stimulates the body’s ability to heal and rebalances the person’s qi.
“Basically, acupuncture just helps to keep the body well,” says Connie. “We see people as young as children to as old as in their 90s, treating everything from colds, to digestive issues, to gynecological issues, to psycho-emotional issues such as anxiety and depression.”
One popular reason to get an acupuncture treatment is if you experience migraines—yes, there are needles in your face, and no, they don’t hurt.
“We don’t always have to treat locally, though,” elaborates Connie. “We have a lot of ‘distal points’ on the hands, feet, or other points that correlate with pain elsewhere on the body.” For migraines, Connie says they often needle the iliotibial band on the side of the leg.
One of the main things you can look forward to during an acupuncture treatment? A good snooze. “Most patients fall asleep while we’re doing it,” laughs Connie. “I always say it’s the deepest, shortest nap you’ll ever take.”
Connie’s 3 Tips to Keep Your Qi Flowing:
- Food is our number one medicine. A lot of illness comes from poor digestion, so eating healthy is important.
- Drink plenty of fluids, otherwise the body gets sluggish. Think of the body’s energy like a river: if it’s flowing poorly or has debris, it’s going to dam up. That’s where the symptoms happen.
To balance qi, give other healing modalities a try, like cupping, guasha, and Chinese herbal formulas.