Stress is the emotional and physical way in which we respond to pressure. Stress can cause both mental and physical symptoms and the effects of stress are different for different people.
The mental (emotional) symptoms of stress include:
- Inability to concentrate
- Feeling excessively tired
- Trouble sleeping
The physical symptoms of stress include:
- Dry mouth
- A pounding heart
- Difficulty breathing
- Stomach upset
- Frequent urination
- Sweating palms
- Tight muscles that may cause pain and trembling
Negative stress can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, anxiety and depression. Chronic, negative stress can even shrink the size of our brains! According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, two-thirds of office visits to family doctors are for stress-related symptoms. Here’s a list of some of the most effective natural stress reducers.
Acupuncture is a wonderful way to improve circulation within the body to treat the systems and symptoms associated with stress.
2. Massage/Foot Massage
Historically, the Chinese used massage to open blocked energy channels in order to improve health. Chinese medicine recognizes that the feet are major conductors of energy for our heart, liver, kidneys, and other internal organs so it’s important to take care of them! If you in an office all day try to walk around with your shoes off as this helps to open the vital meridian points for health and well-being.
3. Chinese Herbs
Chinese Medicine looks at the entire body as a working organism. There are dozens of herbal formulas in Chinese Medicine specifically designed to work on balancing the body to reduce stress.
Meditation, or mindfulness, only takes 15 to 30 minutes a day. Just give yourself some silent time to let your thoughts run free or simply focus on your breathing in order to calm your mind.
Exercise works much in the same way as meditation because it gives you the time to be alone with your thoughts (or an opportunity to let them go). Exercise also releases endorphins into the brain, which improves mood and assists in the prevention of obesity and other health problems.
6. Organize Your Life
Organization offers a sense of control and peace of mind, and there’s a number of ways you can improve in this regard. If you’re the kind of person who’s always running around, it can help to make lists so that you remember everything. Tidy up. Studies have shown the mere sight of clutter can put us on edge.
7. Eat Healthy
It’s actually been proven that junk food can make us depressed (not to mention fat) so clean up your diet. Healthy foods like vegetables, whole grains and protein can improve your mood and give you long-lasting energy to tackle everything that comes your way during the day. According to scientists, foods that are especially effective for stress-busting include blueberries, salmon and almonds. Also, decrease coffee. Too much caffeine can make you jittery and anxious, and eventually lead to a crash.
8. Limit Internet and Cellphone Use
Disconnect, disconnect, disconnect. By turning away from the Internet and shutting off our cellphones, we can at least block some of the channels from which stress can reach us. It is particularly important to cut off electronic use before sleep to reduce insomnia-related issues.
9. B Vitamins
B vitamins are known to promote proper functioning of the brain and nervous system, as well as help induce relaxation and fight fatigue.
Sleep is the most important natural stress reducer of them all. Too little sleep leaves us cranky, irritable and on edge. Too much sleep can leave us sluggish and depressed. Promote better sleep by establishing bedtime rituals that signal to your brain that it’s time to fall asleep; avoid exercise in the three hours before sleep or take a warm bath. Avoid having a large meal close to bedtime, because it may result in indigestion.
It’s almost impossible to live without some stress. And most of us wouldn’t want to, because it gives life some spice and excitement. But if stress gets out of control, it may harm your health, your relationships, and your enjoyment of life.
Anita Alexandra, L.Ac., CH is an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist with 17+ years of experience. She practices at Chiropractic Health and Acupuncture, 619 Main Street, Frisco. (970)668-3299.