Combat stress – why age-old techniques are making a comeback
It’s a familiar refrain, ‘Oh God, I’ve had such a stressful day/ week/year!’ Stress was already an unavoidable part of modern day living – and that’s before we lobbed a global pandemic into the mix.
A little bit of stress can actually be beneficial. It helps us with focus, pushes us to complete a project, helps us feel alive. But, prolonged stress is damaging, to both our mental and physical health.
The stress “fight or flight” response causes the body to produce adrenaline. This causes inflammation, so the body then produces cortisol to reduce this effect. In small doses this is healthy, but excessive levels of adrenaline and cortisol disturb basic functions like heart rate, sleep, breathing and digestion.
In the first instance, stress is likely leaving you feeling tired all the time, a bit joyless, as if you were pounding endlessly on the hamster wheel. You may be suffering low level anxiety, poor skin, or tight, heavy muscles.
Why chronic stress is so dangerous
Constant stress leads to chronic stress which results in chronic inflammation. An unchecked immune system responding to unabated inflammation can lead to myriad problems including almost every known chronic disease — heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, depression and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease.
A ten-year study at the University of Edinburgh recently revealed a startling link between psychological distress and liver disease. It concluded that those with high levels of stress, anxiety and depression were significantly more likely to suffer from a variety of serious liver diseases. Many recent studies have proven a biological link between mental and physical health, a fundamental belief of Chinese medicine for thousands of years.
Here’s the tone of current advice if you are under stress- ‘Try not to get stressed.’ There’s scant concrete advice out there that will really make a difference on practical and physical terms. We need to manage our stress levels on a daily basis – and the solution needs to fit effortlessly into our busy lives, or else we just won’t do it.
Tackling Stress At Source
Stress creates high levels of toxicity and heat inside the body. According to Chinese medicine, the body either tries to expel this heat via the skin, or else it deposits the toxicity in areas such as joints and tissues. A stiff neck, aching shoulders and backache are often the first signs that the body is overloaded and trying desperately to store stress away from the organs.
According to ancient Taoist theories, stress and tension are the most corrosive enemies of health. Over the past 5000 years the Chinese have accumulated vast swathes of evidence linking the powers of body and mind and developed simple, relevant techniques to counterbalance stress. This system is known as Yang Sheng or ‘nurture life’. And as a leading expert in this remarkable self-care system, I am well placed to share them with you!
Want to learn more? Book now for my Stress Masterclass, taking place next Monday 8th Feb at 7pm UK.