Health In Your Hands: Stress
Stress is nothing new, being part of the human experience since before the dawn of history. However, this name for the physical and emotional signs and symptoms of Stress did not find its way into the American conscience until as late as the 1950s. Perhaps the pressures of modern society surpass those of previous eras of human history. Ironically, despite the absence of earth-shattering wars and widespread disease, regardless of decent labor laws and plentiful necessities, this idea of happiness seems further and further out of reach.
Traditional Chinese Medicine, with its holistic view of the body, seeks to find a connection between these disparate symptoms. At its root, we generally view Stress as an excess pattern of the Liver. TCM believes that among other things, the Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (life energy) throughout the body and controls our emotions. When we are stressed, the Qi of the Liver stagnates - imagine a tree that can no longer grow upwards due to some sort of obstacle: its branches begin to knot up and reach out into places that it should not. Therefore, in addressing Stress, we must remove that obstacle and groom branches so that they grow in a harmonious manner.
Besides breathing, diet adjustment can also help your liver. Reduce foods high in saturated fats and processed foods. Use slightly spicy additives like garlic, onions, peppers, and ginger. Slightly sweet foods can help harmonize the Liver in mild cases, but bitter and sour foods such as lemons, limes, grapefruit, and vinegar can be used more severe cases.
Also address some of your habits. If possible, reduce or eliminate the amount of coffee you drink. As a stimulant, coffee makes an excess condition worse. Try tea as a replacement. Mint tea is especially helpful because it helps smooth the flow of Liver Qi. Do your best to remove tobacco and alcohol. Both are toxins that tax the Liver's function (both from a TCM and western view). As always, light exercise such as Taiji, cycling, or swimming are effective in helping Qi to move more freely.
All of these methods are minor measures that can help you to deal with stress in your
daily life. If you find that they are helping, but not enough, you may consider
visiting a Chinese Medicine practitioner who can provide acupuncture treatment and
prescribe herbal remedies.