Chinese Medicine and the Treatment of Stress
Chinese Medicine and the Treatment of Stress. Moderation is essential in whatever activity we are involved in; it is the extremes of excess and abstinence that are frequently associated with health – so, RELAX.
It is commonly recognized that our lifestyle affects our ability to be healthy. In the West, people live at a fast pace with little time for rest and relaxation. Stress is seen as one of the most powerful problems we have to deal with in the modern world; long-term exposure to high stress levels and emotional disturbances has a powerful effect on us.
Chines medicine takes the view that it is not necessarily the level of stress that is the problem, though of course this is relevant; more importantly, it is how we react to the world we live in that can be the problem. Stress is like an indication that some level of activity is leading to ill-health – stress is like a red warning light in a car. Stress will also manifest as low energy. It will also affect our sleep.
To effectively deal with stress, it is important too;
a) to recognize the external cause and take steps to eliminate or reduce the cause through life-style changes, and,
b) to deal with the effects of stress through self-help.
Exercise is a very beneficial way to help deal with the effects of stress. It is important to exercise regularly; every day is best. Non-competitive forms of exercise are most useful. Walking is probably the best type of exercise as it relaxes the body and mind, especially in beautiful scenic locations.
It is also important to have some form of indoor exercise/ quiescent exercise that can be done when the weather is bad; this also balances the aerobic nature of walking. Something like Tai Chi, Qigong or a brief mindful breathing routine is helpful. This helps de-stress the mind and is an important way of “letting go” of stressful thought patterns.
It has been shown in tests that focusing the mind on deep breathing techniques physically relaxes the body, and this in turn relaxes the mind. Stretching and exercising the head and neck by rotating etc. is a good way of dealing with neck and shoulder stiffness, which is a common symptom of stress.
Another help to dealing with stress is to watch your diet, as bad digestion can be another symptom of stress. By diet, I don’t just mean what you eat, but also the conditions of eating. Without being specific, things like spicy, salty, processed food are not good, and too much sugar is not good either. It is also important not to eat when too stressed, as this will further weaken digestion. Eating when talking, watching TV, reading etc. is not recommended either.
Massage is good for helping deal with stress, especially a therapeutic type that is especially designed for stress. Acupuncture and herbal medicine also give excellent results in the treatment of stress symptoms.
Of course, all this takes time, and it is important to take the time to effect a change. One of the symptoms of stress is that you feel that you have no time to spare, but by taking a little time out for yourself you will find that you actually have more time in which to do the things that need to be done. Little and often is a good motto for dealing with change; if you try too hard and make too dramatic a change, you may just be replacing one type of stress with another, especially if you exercise to the point of exhaustion.
It is important to adopt these changes into your way of life, and then these positive changes become part of you, rather than something you just do to get a particular benefit. It is important to enjoy the exercises that you do.
I can, of course, help with acupuncture, therapeutic massage and herbal medicine. I can also work on a one-to-one basis to help develop exercise routines and breathing exercises. I have been studying yoga, Tai Chi and meditation for over 30 years and will help with these in whatever way I can.
David Hankey Acupuncture Cork