Managing Health and Beauty with Ideas from TCM While Working from Home

November 25, 2020

Working or studying from home to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease may be something we need to bear with for at least another year or two. As our movements are constrained to within our homes, what are our choices in managing our general well being?

Being “locked-up” at home is the best time to restore one’s complexion and “Qi” that reflects good energy and vitality.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners, being “locked-up” at home is the best time to restore one’s complexion and “Qi” that reflects good energy and vitality, as we are staying away from pollutants or other kinds of environmental distress.

“Optimal health can be obtained while working or studying from home, as you are now free from daily traffic congestion or long travelling hours. You have more time to rest at home and reduce the risk of being infected by diseases,” said Dr Desmond Cheok Wee Teck, who holds a Doctor of Philosophy in TCM degree from the Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, China.

“While staying at home, you may as well take this golden opportunity to restore your general health, guided by the teachings of Huang Di Nei Jing, the fundamental doctrinal source for Traditional Chinese Medicine for more than two millennia,” suggested Cheok, who is currently a senior lecturer at the TCM Department at INTI International University.

While TCM outweighs “health” over “beauty”, it defines health as a sound physical state combining the wellness of the mind.

“A healthy person is someone who is not only bodily well-abled but has happiness from within. If someone only has a healthy body but is emotionally unstable, the body will sooner or later degenerate,” he warned.

Cheok advised, “People should pay more attention to health, instead of beauty, for beauty will come naturally when someone is healthy, so there is no need to pursue it deliberately.”

By practising “air squats in two steps”, you will exercise the muscles and bones, promote the blood circulation of the whole body and regulate the balance of Yin and Yang in the human body.

Huang Di Nei Jing cites that the reason why people from ancient times lived healthily was because they observe the natural law of Yin and Yang, a concept of dualism in Chinese cosmology, and assimilate well with nature. In maintaining bodily wellbeing, the ancients maintained a moderate way of living and eating according to the laws of nature. As for their mind and soul, they maintained a state of “emptiness”, and were spiritually guarded to avoid delusions. These were also among the principles for longevity.

“As opposed to this, the bad habits of individuals today that will deteriorate their health includes consuming liquor, caffeine or carbonated drinks in excessive; or simply by adding ice cubes to their drinks to gain a sense of excitement,” pinpointed Cheok.

He continued, “Moreover, people living in today’s modern world have many delusions and worries. Some people engage in things out of lust, can become confused lose control because of their desires. All of these violate the ways of Yin and Yang.”

He stressed, whether working from home or at an office, one must practise a healthy lifestyle which includes sleeping and waking up early, to not stay up late while watching digital devices, and to avoid junk food or excessive eating at night. An unhealthy lifestyle will not only gradually lead to bad health but also a dull complexion.

On the importance of sleeping at the right time, according to the law of Yin and Yang, Cheok quoted Suwen (The Book of Plain Questions), which includes a dialogue between the Yellow Emperor and his medical advisors, and explained, “According to the Yin Yang and Four Seasons doctrine, there are four seasons in a day. According to our time zone in Malaysia, the ‘winter’ of our day ranges from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. This is the perfect timing for a person to achieve a deep sleep cycle and to get sufficient rest.”

Massaging the TCM acupoint named “Sibai” indicated by the black dots in this picture can improve the blood circulation of the face and achieve a cosmetic effect.

Additionally, there is a TCM way of facial massage that is recommended for individuals working from home, which aims to enhance a healthy look by producing a glowing complexion.

“In Chinese medicine, there are acupuncture points for a whitening effect. By massaging ‘Sibai’ points which are placed below the infraorbital margin, or one inch below the pupil line (kindly refer to the picture), one can improve the blood circulation in the face, which also has a cosmetic effect. You can gently press and knead this acupoint ten times, and then gradually increase the intensity, press and knead fifty times, which can be done twice in a row,” instructed Cheok.

While staying indoors with limited space to move around, Dr Cheok suggested a practical physical exercise which was made popular by Professor Zhu Zongxiang from China. It is similar to “air squats in two steps” from modern workouts (kindly refer to the picture).

“By practising this, you are not only exercising the muscles and bones but also promoting the blood circulation of the whole body, and regulating the balance of Yin and Yang in the human body. This exercise can be carried out without needing much space and is suitable for people living in small houses,” encouraged Cheok.

Similarly, the doctrine of Yin and Yang applies to our diet, which encourages us to eat the right portion at the right time. While some of the modern nutritionists advise their clients to cut down on rice, Dr Cheok counter suggests Malaysians consume porridge or rice as it is the staple food for people living in Southeast Asia.

“It has been a southern-Chinese habit to eat rice or porridge for breakfast since ancient times, and this is part of the food culture that gave longevity to our ancestors,” he opined.

To keep up one’s stamina for working or studying from home and in the long run, Cheok concluded that the golden principle to attain good health is none other than going back to the basics – live moderately, have adequate rest, stay active, ensure peace of mind, consume real foods and obey the traditional wisdom inherited from our ancestors.