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Archive for January, 2010

Stress Tips

One of the biggest complaints I hear by my clients is…stress.  I honestly think every client that walks in my door has some level of stress in their life, causing various ailments.  Some show stress by weight gain, muscle tension, migraines, irritability, premature gray hair, some sort of addiction, insomnia, high blood pressure and so many more complaints.   Each person handles stress in their life differently and what you think is stressful, might not be to another person.

I can relate to the feeling of being stressed out.  Prior to finding the joy in acupuncture, I had a very high stress job in project management.  Even in my current field, being an acupuncturist is stress-free but the job of running a full-time private practice is stressful.  My clients always ask me what I do to stay stress-free so I thought I would share my stress-free tips.

1.  Acupuncture
Yes, I have an advantage as I can needle myself at any time for free.  I give myself an acupuncture treatment at least once a week.  If I have more free time, then I definitely take advantage of it, but I make sure I get at least one treatment a week.  I recommend for my clients to aim for acupuncture once a week or every two weeks.  In Oriental Medicine, we believe ailments are due to the flow of qi in the body being restricted for whatever reason.  Acupuncture helps balance the body and get the qi moving properly.  It helps reduce the side effects of stress, such as irritability, high blood pressure and insomnia, to name a few.  Acupuncture helps quiet the body and the mind, giving you a personal time-out to rejuvenate your body.

2.  Exercise
This is the dreaded word that may cause people to stop reading.  Any form of exercise keeps the oxygen and blood flowing properly through the body.  It helps clear the mind and helps strengthen the heart.  I could get all scientific on you, but you have read the studies and heard it all before.  The key is to get some sort of exercise every day.  I tend to break-up my workouts, as I am not a fan of getting up at 5 am to hit the gym or going at 9 pm at night.  I get at least 30 minutes in the morning.  I found that if I watch one of my favorite shows in the morning while working out, it helps make it go faster.  If you can not find 30 minutes, then break it up into three 10-minute workouts.  (Note: there is even a 10-minute workout by the creator of P90X).  The key is to find something that works for you and your schedule.  There is no set rule, as long as you are getting some exercise during the day.

3.  Diet
Again, I am sure you have read enough articles on diets and what to eat or not eat.  I tend to stick with lean meats, veggies and fruit.  I try to limit the carbs and if I do have them, I have them for breakfast or lunch.  This was something I learned from a personal trainer years ago and it really helped me drop the pounds.  Try to add a variety of color to your diet.  If you are limited on time, there are some great cookbooks out there for quick and easy meals.  The recipes are tasty and fast which is very handy for me since I am not a fan of cooking huge meals after a long day in the office.

4.  Herbal Medicine
There are various herbal remedies to help keep you healthy and de-stressed.  Herbal remedies are personally selected based on your imbalance.   Please check with a qualified herbalist to make sure nothing conflicts with any prescription medications you are taking.  People think since it is natural it is safe, but there are some herb-drug interactions.  Check with a qualified herbalist to make sure there is no interaction between your medications.

5.  Breathing
Sounds simple, but most people do not breathe correctly.  When I ask clients to take a deep breath, they inhale and their chest rises.  This is very shallow breathing and most people do this type of breathing.  The best and most beneficial breathing is abdominal breathing or yogic breath.  Lay down on your bed and place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.  When you breath in through your nose, the belly should rise FIRST, then into the chest.  As you inhale, you expand and extend your belly.  As you exhale, pull your belly in towards your spine.  When first doing this, do not be surprised if you feel light headed, which is why I suggest to do it laying down.  You are getting a full expansion of the diaphragm, which has been constricted with all the shallow breathing.  Once you can do it laying down, try it while seated.  Throughout the day, stop what you are doing, place your hands on your belly and take a few deep breaths.  This will help refresh the mind, calm the heart and help you de-stress.  Soon you will breath this way naturally and support a de-stressed state of mind.

6.  Essential Oils
There are so many various oils out there for various things.  Find a qualified aromatherapist to find which oil is best for you.  My favorite (which pairs wonderfully with the deep breathing) is eucalyptus oil.  It can help calm your down if you are stressed or give you energy when you are low.  Lavender is another great calming oil.  I would suggest this at night, as it might make you very sleepy at work.  Orange is great to help stimulate the mind.  Spearmint helps calm your appetite.

These are just a few things I do to help manage my stress.  If it seems overwhelming to do all of them, then start with incorporating one at a time.    Start on the path to a stress-free life.

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