Over the course of 2,500 years, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has become a tried and tested system of rational medicine known for its great diversity of healing and wellness practices. The main goal of TCM is to create harmony between our mind, body, and the environment around us.
One way to create harmony is by making sure your Qi is balanced. “Qi,” or “Chi,” means life energy and it stands for the energy in all things.
Your Qi provides the energy for important bodily functions like your digestion, metabolism, and overall strength. It is also represented in other physical aspects of energy like your phone, sunlight, and electricity. But other aspects like your thoughts and emotions are also powered by your Qi.
Causes of Qi Deficiency
There are a few different ways that your Qi can become deficient and need some restoration. Qi can decrease overtime as we age, but it can also be caused by using too much Qi in your day-to-day. In today’s world a lot of people experience Qi imbalance. This is partly due to the fact that as a society we’re busier and more stressed out than ever and dealing with life's stressors can drain our Qi pretty quickly.
Some Qi Deficiency symptoms include:
- Poor digestion
- Cold limbs and fingers
- Frequent urination
- Shortness of breath
- Little to no appetite
- Weak immune system
- Chronic loose stool
While Qi deficiency is common in our busy culture, it is possible to have too much Qi. Certain emotions like anger can stagnate Qi in the body. Stagnant Qi might cause pain in the body that can be released through acupressure or acupuncture. Environmental toxins like polluted water or air as well as general overexertion, overeating, or overworking. If you have too much Qi in your body, you might feel irritable, stressed, or tense.
How to Restore and Balance Your Qi
Your Qi can become unbalanced due to a lack of nutritious food, clean, mineralized water, good sleep, and fresh air. By nourishing your body and staying in harmony with your environment, you’ll be able to restore and balance your Qi.
1. Foods and drinks that enhance your Qi
There are a lot of foods that can help increase your Qi, but flowers contain the most Qi. According to ancient Eastern philosophies when a plant flowers it is believed that it’s at the peak of its life. In fact, flowers are the fruit of this highest level energy Qi. When we enjoy a wonderful whole flower tea it can help us heal.
Other healing foods include:
- Fermented foods like kimchi, miso, and natto
- Vegetables and fruits that are high in vitamins and minerals (avoid cold or raw foods if possible)
- Herbs like turmeric*
- Healthy fats like nuts, avocados, and coconut oil (in small amounts)
*These should be taken under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner or trusted TCM practitioner.
2. Getting good sleep can help restore your Qi
Sleep is one of the best ways to recharge your Qi. Since your body is in a complete state of rest, it gives time to help your body heal. For some of our favorite at-home sleep tips, check out our 29 Natural Remedies to Sleep Better and Get Deep Sleep.
Regular exercise is an important part of keeping your Qi balanced, but you have to be careful not to overdo it. Too much intense exercise can cause your Qi to stagnate or have too much Qi. That’s why lighter exercise like Qigong or Tai Chi is suggested as a daily exercise. Qigong, which means “'life energy cultivation,” is a holistic system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for the purposes of health and spirituality. Qigong is great for harmonizing, strengthening, and healing your body.
4. Herbal teas that enhance your Qi
Herbs are one of the five pillars of healing in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Teas are often one of the best ways to get the healing benefits from certain herbs. Shangri-La Rose tea is known for promoting radiant skin & hair. Chrysanthemum tea can be used to boost immunity, heart health, and vision health. And Blue Lotus tea is great for deep relaxation. Like we mentioned earlier, flowers contain a great amount of Qi, so each cup of our herbal tea can help enhance your Qi in addition to their other benefits.
5. Restore your Qi with Meditation
While taking care of your body by eating well and exercising is important when balancing your Qi, taking care of your mind is equally important. The Qi is often blocked or depleted because of stress and studies show that meditation is a great way to reduce stress. Specifically, meditation can help create a stronger connection between your mind and body, reduce anxiety, and increase self-awareness.
Meditations like Loving-Kindness meditation are great for reducing negative emotions and increasing positive ones. Practicing kindness is one of the most direct routes to happiness. Other great options include gratitude meditations and mindfulness meditations.
6. Time spent outside in nature to balance your Qi
Getting fresh air and sunlight is a great way to recharge. While a simple walk out in the sunshine is a great way to get outside, other activities like forest bathing and walking meditation are also creative ways to get some fresh air and boost your immune system while you’re at it.
In TCM, acupressure helps improve the circulation of your Qi, or vital energy source. It does this by applying pressure to certain points along the meridians of your body, which are channels that your Qi flow through. Acupuncture works similarly by activating your meridians with thin needles. Both acupressure and acupuncture are great for aiding Qi stagnation in the liver.
8. Deep breathing to enhance your Qi
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the breath is seen as a connection between your Qi and your physical existence. By controlling your breath, you can also tap into the intimate connection your breath has with the rest of your body. Breath-work can be used to expel excess CO2, awaken your body, and clear your mind.
On a daily basis, we do a lot of shallow chest breathing. While this type of breathing is great for bringing enough oxygen into our bodies, it isn’t great for deeper healing. Buddhist Breathing or “Belly Breathing” can help relax your mind and body and bring more oxygen into your system. According to Five Seasons Medicine, you can complete a round of Buddhist Breathing by doing the following:
- Begin by relaxing your face, neck, jaw and shoulders. Continue to slowly relax the rest of your body.
- Rest the tip of your tongue on your upper palate just behind the upper front teeth. This connects the Du Mai and Ren Mai meridians for healthy energy flow.
- Then, sit with your eyes closed and straight spine.
- Observe the natural rhythm of your inhalations and exhalations, without focusing too hard. Just lightly focus on your breath coming in and out. Follow the breath in this way for twelve inhales, and twelve exhales.
- Now, place one hand on your chest, and another hand on your lower abdomen. When you inhale, allow your chest and ribs to expand and your abdomen to relax and expand outward into your hand. Keep it gentle without forcing. Breathe this way for nine inhales and nine exhales.
9. Clearing negative thoughts to restore your Qi
Like we said earlier, negative thoughts aren’t good for your Qi. In fact, emotions like anger, frustration, and resentment can cause Qi stagnation in your liver. If you’re feeling these emotions on a daily basis, it might feel hard to get rid of them.
A gratitude meditation is a great way to reduce negative thoughts, but you can also try more creative outlets. If there is a specific person you’re angry with, try writing out all a letter explaining how they hurt you, but that you’re going to forgive them. You could also try writing out all of the things that bother you and then crumpling it up and throwing it away or burning it. This may seem extreme, but this symbolic elimination of negative emotions can help bring peace.
Also, by paying closer attention to your negative thoughts you might be able to better identify them and stop thinking so much about them. If you were to write down every negative thought you have throughout the day you’ll probably be surprised by how long the list would be.
If you’re telling yourself you’re not good enough or beautiful enough or smart enough, you could be hurting yourself and your Qi. We seriously love each and every one of you and know that you are enough. But a lot of people struggle with negative self-talk. Try surrounding yourself with positive affirmations and positive people.
Healing and self-love is a journey. Don't be too hard on yourself if cultivating a balanced Qi takes time. By every step to a restored Qi is one step closer to your true, healed self.
Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice before choosing at-home healing.