Very few people have gone through life without experiencing some level of stress. Stress may be a great motivator. Stressed about an exam? You’re more likely to study a little harder. Stressed about a promotion, you’re likely to make sure you’re well prepared. Most of us experience short-term stress, but what happens when it turns chronic?
Stress has become a catch-all word that means anything that causes us difficulty. There is a physiological change that happens within our bodies when we are under a difficult situation. Specific hormones are secreted, the nervous system goes on hyper-alert, and our brain shuts down our ability to see the larger picture. We literally can only focus on the event that is causing our bodies to react.
On a simpler note, it’s as if our nerves are firing rapid fire, telling our brains that there’s DANGER. This is useful if we need to run from a charging tiger. But while most of us aren’t being chased by wild animals, our brains cannot effectively differentiate between a dangerous animal and an impending job interview. The brain still sends the message of DANGER.
So what can we do? Short of taking medication to calm the stress and anxiety, here are some tips.
1) Get enough sleep. Sleep is one of the best ways to rejuvenate the brain, body, nervous system, and immune system.
2) Breathe deeply. Stop right now and take three very deep, very slow breaths. This will slow the heart rate for a moment, and will oxygenate the brain.
3) Get therapy. Yes, psychotherapy if you are in need, but do yoga, Pilates, get acupuncture, take a walk.
4) Get out and have fun. Remember that you have friends—prioritize your friendships. One of the great things about friends is that they can lend an ear and offer a fresh perspective on our lives.
How does acupuncture work for stress and anxiety? From a Chinese medical perspective, the organ most closely related to stress is the liver. The liver is responsible for “smoothing” out our Qi and blood, allowing to flow better. Stress and tension, whether physical or emotional, is a sign that our Qi and blood are stuck. Acupuncture moves this stagnation. From a more modern scientific perspective acupuncture needles stimulate the body’s production of endorphins and anti-inflammatories.
If it has been a while since your last treatment, it’s time to get in for some Qi movement. You’ll feel much more relaxed and energized. I guarantee it!
It’s so funny how often I speak with clients about the biological function and impact of stress but how little I remind myself of the same facts. Great post!