The overall theme of Chinese Medicine is to keep the mind and body properly functioning as a whole to prevent injury and disease. A practitioner will always work on blockages and promoting circulation of qi, blood, and fluids while the treatment plan itself is unique to each individual’s complaint at hand.
When I was in practice, I saw that the common thing that people sought out acupuncture or Chinese herbal therapy was for pain or stress (mental support).
Stress and anxiety can be best friends. Most often those who are going through stress on a regular basis are also tackling anxiety. When our mental spirit is overexerted with worry and thinking, it not only pulls in a down spiral mentally, but can affect the body physically:
- low/excessive appetite
- high blood pressure
- sleep issues (insomnia/dream disturbed)
- and lots of sighing
Stress disrupts the free flow of qi. Simply put, qi is energy. When channels aren’t properly transporting energy to where it should be (ie. stomach, spleen) the blockages make it challenging for the body to receive the nutrients we need. This shows up in digestive issues like weight gain (damp accumulation) or low/excessive appetite (Spleen qi deficiency).
Liver is in charge of making sure qi and blood are moving freely within pathways throughout the body and so when there is an obstruction, the Liver is greatly impacted. This is where the stress tension comes in. Due to the lack of qi and blood nourishing muscles and tendons they become stiff and achy (Liver qi stagnation).
Heart and Liver are the main organ systems that deal a lot with emotions. Blockages create a lot of friction and heat within the body, much like traffic and frustration. This produces a lot of mental disharmony like depression, mood swings, frustration, and anger (Liver qi stagnation) or emotional disturbances like insomnia and anxiety (Heart fire).
*Note eventually all organ systems are going to be affected by stress and have their own symptoms like Kidneys = fertility issues or Lungs = low immune.
Stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) trigger the ‘fight or flight’ response in our bodies. Short term stress can help our bodies cope with more difficult situations, but when your hormone levels are elevated for longer than it is appropriate it is no longer beneficial. Symptoms of chronic stress include changes to your body, mood, and behavior. It’s safe to say all systems of the body will be affected that includes musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, reproductive, and central nervous system.
- Take time for yourself and unplug from social media whether it’s picking up a new hobby, reading, listening to music or podcast.
- Get outside for that dose of Vitamin D. Go barefoot in the grass and ground yourself, exercise, meditate, aichi, qigong, yoga, anything to stay active.
- Express yourself by journaling, use your support system as a soundboard, make/renew relationships.
- Practice affirmations, mantras, write gratitude lists. A change in perspective can do wonders.
- Have a consistent bedtime routine that might look like prepping for the next day or night time face masks. A good nights sleep (optimal sleep time is between 9-11pm) is always a must, you can’t make up for lost sleep.
- Self care is important...get a massage, acupuncture, do an at home mini spa, or some self acupressure.
A c u p r e s s u r e
Shenmen: The ear contains points that map out to specific parts of the body. Shen can be thought of as our mental spirit. Shenmen is addresses stress, anxiety, and pain.
Location: at the point of the triangular fossa near where the superior and inferior crus meet.
KD1: Helps to ground yourself when there is a lot going on mentally and physically. You can step on a lacrosse ball or golf ball to massage this one.
Location: 2/3 way on the sole of the foot between the base of the 2nd/3rd toes HT8: A reset point when you’re feeling a little burnt out and need help in calming the mind. Location: with a loose fist, the point between the where the tip of the little and ring finger rest.
LV3: Calms the mind and emotions especially if your are experiencing irritability and anger.
Location: between the base of the 1st and 2nd metatarsals.
- Good food and nourishment is a big must along with keeping hydrated. A good place to start is the usual..fruits and veggies, you can’t get enough of those dark leafy greens.
If you are having a rough day hang in there, friend. You are doing the best that you can and it shall pass.