eastern medicine

symptom signals



Aye yai yai y’all, I’m doing too much. The great thing is that my body is sending me an array of symptoms to let me know that I need to slow it down.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, symptoms are signals. How beautiful is that? Restructuring my thinking to reflect this turns each pain I experience into a little love note from my body letting me know what I might consider adjusting.

Usually, it tells me things I already know but chose to ignore. For example, I ate at least half of my meals away from home last week. Even though I stick to my usual diet when I dine out, allergens often slip in. It happens so frequently I should probably expect it. I also consumed alcohol with three of these meals, and that’s a significant increase from my typical 0-1 drinks per week. All of this contributes to inflammation and a bump up in pain. I know this, I preach this, and I ignored it multiple times…along with a slew of other things.

I have a feeling my body tried to send me more subtle clues that I was mistreating it, but I’m still not very good at recognizing symptoms in the early stages. So, by the time I realized what was going on and mustered up the courage to give my body exactly what it needed, I was already in the middle of a whopping flare.

The wonderful thing about all of this is that I alone pulled myself out of it. Yes, okay, I’m going to acupuncture today because I’ll be out of town this weekend and I need to be in better shape to do that, but I have no doubt I’m on the other side, so I’m going to take all the credit. It gives me so much pride to know that I can finally, after over a year of fumbling through life without prescriptions, get through some pretty nasty situations by simply taking care of myself.* I drank a lot of water, tightened up my diet more than usual, and slept a whole bunch. I also doused my body in essential oils, took some lovely baths, meditated, and practiced giving myself Reiki (I’m trained to do that now!). In all honesty, all of these behaviors made for a few beautiful days of healing.

It does bother me that something as simple as socializing can throw me into this, but I’m going to wait to address that. For now, I’m just going to bask in this accomplishment, pull every lesson that I can out of the last few days, and try to avoid making the same mistakes again…at least for a couple of weeks!


*Of course, if my breakthrough pain was the result of an acute issue and required treatment, I would seek outside intervention. It took years for me to learn when to ask for help from medical professionals and when I’m experiencing an increase in symptoms that will eventually return to normal.

Image courtesy of People I’ve Loved.



  • Eliza Paul

    I love this reframe of thinking of symptoms as little loves notes from your body! I’m going to use that from now on. It’s made a big difference for me to stop thinking of my body as the enemy and start thinking of it as my partner and champion. Great work!

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