Between work, family and friends, errands and running your household, it’s easy to see how stress can build and build until you feel on the verge of collapse. In fact, according to a recent study by the American Psychological Association, women continue to report higher stress levels than men and are more likely than men to say their stress is on the rise. What’s more, stress doesn’t just take a toll on your emotions; it can lead to very real and dangerous health issues.
According to Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM), stress, otherwise known as ya li, is directly connected to the liver. This organ is considered vital to promoting the smooth circulation of vital energy, or qi (also known as chi), throughout the body. Couple that with what we know from Western medicine — that stress leads to tension buildup in the shoulders, causing pain and headaches.
There’s more. The increased levels of adrenaline and cortisol caused by stress can also lead to shallow breathing, stomach pain and indigestion, and premature aging of the skin. The good news is that Traditional Asian Medicine techniques can help minimize stress and help you manage it. Here’s how:
Acupuncture and acupressure, used commonly in Traditional Asian Medicine, can induce a relaxation response, lowering the heart rate and blood pressure, increasing energy and tissue regeneration, and reducing stress. As a result, you feel more relaxed and your digestion improves. As the tension is relieved, so are headaches. And instead of being tense and angry, you may find you’re better able to stay calm, control your temper and remain on an even keel. Regular treatments can even help with high blood pressure. Further, studies have shown that acupuncture effectively normalizes the levels of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.
Take a page from ancient Sanskrit and turn to meditation to help calm your body in times of stress. Meditation affects the body in exactly the opposite ways that stress does — helping you center yourself and focus on deep breathing and a feeling of peace. Doing this, even for a few minutes, can help regulate your body’s response to stress and reduce feelings of anxiety.