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As the year starts to draw to a close and work schedules get busier, it is important to take the time to take care of yourself. Preventing excess stress on the body will help to prevent illness due to a compromised immune system. Basically speaking, the major causes of the disease include environmental, emotional stress, overwork, and poor diet. These factors can compromise and/or exhaust our Ki (Chi or Qi in Chinese).

Oriental medicine describes the body in terms of energy or “Ki”. Ki is the vital energy of life. Half of our Ki is comprised of the genetic material we inherit from our parents. The other half is extracted from the air we breathe and the food we eat. We are in “good health” as long as it is flowing smoothly and is bountiful. Symptoms of ill health begin to appear in our body and mind when we don’t have enough Ki, or if it is not flowing smoothly. When we are healthy, Ki warms us, moves us and protects us.

Furthermore, we all have “Defensive Ki” within us. It is a shield to protect us from external influences. When we are out of balance, our Defensive Ki becomes weak and the shield becomes porous. We then become susceptible to external pathogens from our surrounding environment.

The most common manifestation is the ‘common cold’ (Traditional Chinese Medicine has a saying: “every disease begins with symptoms of a cold”). This sneaky common cold will penetrate our system by way of the draft. It is important to keep your neck covered on a windy day or wear a small scarf in a drafty home or office. The onset is sudden and acute, mostly affecting the upper part of the body. There are body aches, an aversion to drafts, and sometimes headaches. At this stage, our Defensive Ki is keeping the illness at bay – but the outcome is still undecided. A shiatsu treatment at this stage may purge the external pathogen before the disease has time to develop.

Note: Clients should not come to the clinic for treatments if they are experiencing fever, sore throat, cough, excessive runny-nose or sneezing. It is best to stay at home and rest – so as not to spread a possible contagious “illness” to the therapists and other clients at the clinic.

Emotional stress can also compromise the quality of our Ki. It does this by way of obstructing an organ or weakening the Ki of that organ. Emotional stress can also affect our healthy choices towards workload, hygiene, and diet.
A poor diet consisting of excess alcohol/ coffee/spicy foods, fatty/fried foods, excess cold/raw foods (especially in the colder months), puts extra stress on the Ki of the digestive system. This results in poor extraction of nutrients from food. Eating at irregular times, as well as excessive stress can also injure the digestive process. Mental and physical overwork can damage our Ki by depleting it, or by local wear and tear on our joints and muscles.


  • Maintain realistic working hours.
  • Exercise moderately to clear the head and move stuck energy.
  • Do a simple, quiet, deep breathing exercise with a focus on slow exhalation. (Breathing exercises can relax the mind and body).
  • Meditate or write your thoughts in a private journal.
  • Try not to internalize emotions – talk to a trusted friend
  • Wear a scarf on drafty days.
  • Try to get to sleep at the same time every night- avoid stimulants or stimulating thoughts close to bedtime (a proper sleep will relax your nervous system, restore your mind, and help to recharge your body for the next day).
  • Remember, eating meals at regular times + in peace + healthy food choices = happier person!

Prevention is key. Regular shiatsu treatments along with the above recommendations can help to improve the quality and the smooth flow of Ki – this stimulates the body’s own natural healing process. It can also help strengthen Defensive Ki and help balance organ function, among many other benefits!

Take the time to take care of yourself. Your mind and body will thank you and you will not have the added stress of missing events (business or pleasure) due to a compromised immune system.

Emily Robinson, RMT, CST, CR offers a tailored treatment of either Shiatsu, Massage Therapy, Reflexology, or a combination of all three treatments at The Pacific Wellness Institute. To book an appointment with Emily, please call, 416-929-6958.