Stress quite literally affects everything – our sleep, our digestion, our skin, our mental health.

Hans Selye (who coined the term ‘stress’ in 1936) said “it’s not stress that kills us – it’s our reaction to it”. Like everyone, I have those super-stressed days too. I navigate them by using my techniques to cope. I know first-hand how stress can play havoc with your basic functions, because it happens if I don’t follow my own advice.

Stress is an unavoidable part of modern life. The answer is to deal with it as it happens, to stop it building up and causing problems. Your body has brilliant in-built systems to deal with stress, it’s just about learning how to access them.

Over the past 5000 years, Chinese wisdom has accumulated vast swathes of evidence linking the powers of body and mind, resulting in some hugely effective techniques to counterbalance stress.

The best place to start is by thinking a little more about how you breathe. The link between breathing and stress is becoming clearer. Studies have shown controlled, slow breathing stimulates the vagus nerve, which connects your head and stomach and prompts the rest phase of your nervous system to kick in. Chinese medicine has always held that slow, considered breathing takes you from an active, yang phase into a relaxed, passive, yin phase. This makes it the simplest form of meditation.

The basic techniques of yang sheng work together to effectively reduce stress and rebalance you. Head to the rituals section to learn them.