Sunday, March 10, 2013

Chinese Medicine and Stress

From stock.xchang
Stress, stress, stress--everyone has stress! We spend our days hunched over computers, worrying about money, and time, and work, and whether we remembered to turn off the stove. The dilated pupils and raised pulse that are reactions to stress are designed to protect us from danger, giving us the option of fight or flight. However, modern stresses are rarely solved by running or hiding. Instead, our bodies' natural defense system confuses our endocrine system, puts pressure on our heart, and upsets our digestive systems.

Chinese medicine has been around long before cell phones, computers, and triple-shot espressos, and it has a lot to offer our stressed-out world. We see stress symptoms as a combination of blocked energy and a wearing down of our reserves. Chinese medicine treats these symptoms using a combination of herb and food therapies, acupuncture and bodywork, and lifestyle suggestions. Here are a few of the ideas we use to treat stress:

  • Foods: Eat food that is easy to digest. Cooked, warm, non-greasy foods are easy to break down. Focus on vegetables for their combination of antioxidants, fiber, and nutrition, with small portions of meat and grains. Hot tea helps break down food and keeps your stomach warm.
  • Lifestyle: While no one who lives in the modern age can completely get away from stress, everyyone can better handle the challenges of day-to-day life. Give yourself adequate time to rest, both when you sleep at night and in little breaks during the day. One of my favorite suggestions is to get a coloring book. You can take a few minutes several times a day to relax your mind and color. You don't have to use kids' coloring books, either--there are great ones for everything, even The Victorian House Coloring Book (Dover History Coloring Book) (affiliate link).
  • What the pros can do. Visiting an acupuncturist or herbalist trained in Chinese medicine can be a huge help in dealing with stress. Acupuncture helps your nervous system handle any stress better, whether it's emotional stress, a problem with your body chemistry, or just having difficulty adjusting to the change of seasons. Herbs can help you with irritability, frustration, PMS or other problems aggravated by stress. 
The good news about stress: if you feel stressed, you are alive! A life without stress, aside from being impossible, would be very boring. So find ways to deal with your stress, and live life to the fullest. What are your favorite tricks to manage your stress?