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Stress and anxiety. 

So many of us experience these states in our daily lives. Whilst a little stress (eu-stress) can be positive and helps us achieve our goals, too much stress can create a negative impact on our body and mind. 

In the last year, most of us have experienced more stress and anxiety that we would have liked. So what do we do with our stress and anxiety? How can we manage these states, or better yet, transform them into something positive?

Looking after your physical and mental health is really important when it comes to managing stress and anxiety. 

Would you like to learn some simple acupressure techniques to help you manage daily stress and anxiety? Check out the online course I’m running
Acupressure for stress and anxiety 

There are a number of actions we can take to manage our stress and anxiety:

Gratitude practice
In many cases, we become stressed and anxious because things are not the way we think they should be. Developing a gratitude practice can help us to appreciate the positive things in our lives rather than dwelling on the things we want to change. When you are feeling stressed or agitated and before going to sleep each night, think of three things you are grateful for.

Is anything really wrong right now?
When I’m feeling stressed or anxious, I find it really useful to ask myself “Is there anything really wrong right now?”. Most of the time the answer is “No”. I find that this really helps to ground and bring me back into the now.

Do something you love and have fun
It’s important to carve some time out for your favourite activities each week. You could be artistically inclined (e.g. water colour painting), enjoy a craft (e.g.knitting or sewing), love playing tennis or having a quiet cup of tea in your garden or a walk in the park. Find your joy and practice it!

Rest and relaxation are under-rated these days. We often move from one activity to another without taking a break. At a minimum, try spending 5 minutes a day doing absolutely nothing. Just sit and look out the window, allowing your gaze to just be. Whatever the view is, just rest with that. 

If you are feeling tired or overwhelmed but can’t avoid certain tasks, do small amounts of activity at a time, interspersed with rest, e.g. 30 mins activity followed by 30 mins rest. It’s important not to push yourself over your edge. 

Don’t over-commit
Contrary to popular belief, more isn’t better. Only take on what you know you can do comfortably. If you realise that you have over-committed, make a plan to reduce your load. I sometimes advise patients to do “nothing extra” when they are feeling stressed, run-down or in poor health. This means cutting out everything that really doesn’t have to be done. 

Meditation or mindfulness
Observing the breath, our thoughts and sensations helps us to be present, gives us perspective and helps us to manage our thoughts and reactions more skilfully. Some wonderful byproducts of these practices are relaxation, calm and peace. A daily meditation or mindfulness practice is one of the best ways to manage stress and anxiety. 

Acupuncture and Acupressure
An acupuncture treatment aims to bring the energetic pathways of the body-mind into balance, to promote self-healing and vitality. Just like a regular meditation/mindfulness practice, one of the benefits of an acupuncture treatment is relaxation. Self acupressure can be done anywhere, anytime, to enhance acupuncture treatments and to manage stress and anxiety on demand.  

Eat a healthy, nourishing diet
Make sure you eat a variety of vegetables, whole grains, protein and maybe a little fruit. 

I think home cooking is one of the best things you can do for your diet. The best thing is that you can cook with love and warmth for both yourselves and others. Listen to your body and cook what it needs to be balanced and well. 

Eat as much organic/biodynamic food as you can afford. Avoid preservatives and other additives. Always check food labels and if you see an ingredient with a chemical name, avoid buying it. 

Avoid low fat foods. When fat is removed, it is often replaced with sugar and additives. A number of vitamins are fat soluble, so without the fat, your body can’t absorb  them. Small amounts of full fat food is preferable to low fat foods.

From a Chinese Medicine perspective, its also important to avoid the following:

  • Eat seasonally – seasonal foods give you the energy and nutrition you need to be in optimal health for each season.
  • Refined sugar, cold food and drinks, tropical fruit as well as cow’s dairy, as these weaken your Spleen. If you can’t live without cow’s dairy, select organic/biodynamic products.
  • Fried food, too much caffeine or alcohol, which affect your liver. 

Its also important to make sure you drink 6 to 8 glasses of water (including most herbal teas) a day. There are still many people who don’t understand how important it is to keep hydrated. 

Move your body
Exercise helps to move the qi and blood throughout the body to keep you balanced and well-functioning. You don’t need to do strong workouts; in fact I usually only recommend relatively gentle movement for my patients.

If you are recovering from illness and don’t feel that it’s possible to do any physical exercise, then try some breath-work. Qi-gong and pranayama (breath work in the yogic tradition) can help to move energy around the body and promote health and wellbeing.

Yours in good health