Take it down a notch. 11 ways to manage stress

1. Breathe , it’s free!

Take deep breaths; Check out this blog post on how to breathe properly.

2. Move your qi!

If your qi (aka energy/universal life force/prana) is stagnant you're going to feel like crap and will have trouble moving through stress with ease. There is a saying in Chinese medicine that says where there is stagnation there is pain. Stagnant qi can show up in many different ways. It can lead to a feeling of rib side pain, irritability, grumpiness, frequent sighing, neck /shoulder and jaw tension, burping, high blood pressure and a variety of GI issues. My favorite forms of movement include yoga, dance, Pilates, and running.

3. Seriously, work on your posture.

Having great posture not only leads to a better outlook on life but less physical pain. You'd be surprised how much physical pain people live with every day. Pain is tiring and stressful; you don't have to live that way! Just having awareness throughout your day on what your body is doing can make a big difference.

Start from the feet up, when walking make sure your feet are pointed straight forward. When standing keep your weight even between both feet. Think of your pelvis as a bowl of water with the two bony knobs in the front as the edge of the bowl. You want to keep the water in the bowl and for most people that means tucking their tailbone and drawing those two points up. Stand tall with your shoulders blades gliding back and down towards each other. Relax!

4. Rescue Remedy

Rescue Remedy by Bach’s Flower Essences. This is an alcohol extracted essence of five flowers that treats trauma, stress, anxiety and grief. It works on animals and people quite well. I like to take a little rescue remedy before I go to the dentist, take a test or speak publically. I use it on my kitties before a vet visit. It really helps take the edge off without any side effects. Please note that you shouldn't give alcohol to cats so use the spray form around the cat or just rub the rescue remedy on its fur. You can buy this in many different forms, from tinctures to lozenges, at any health food store.

5. Chinese formulas

Chinese herbal medicine has many formulas that can help not only the effects of stress on your body but the buildup of the stagnant qi. These formulas should be prescribed by your Chinese medicine practitioner to suit your specific needs. That being said I have seen the formula "Free and Easy Wanderer” (aka Xiao Yao San) at Whole Foods. This formula is well known in the treatment of PMS and for moving your stuck qi.

While I don't recommend you take Chinese herbal formulas without a prescription from your health care practitioner it's generally a safe formula for most people (do not take if you are on Western pharmaceuticals or other herbal supplements without consulting your practitioner first)

6. Smile at people like you smile at dogs and kids

Smiling not only changes your body chemistry but it has the added benefit of getting other people around you to smile. Seeing more smiles everyday helps makes my world feel better.

7. Have fun!

My new favorite thing to do is to put "googly eyes" on random inanimate objects, ok and sometimes my cat. Everyday items take on a face when you put googly eyes on them. Your can find googly eyes at craft stores for a couple of bucks. I love to put them on a salt shaker or something at a restaurant and leave it for some other patron to find. When other people notice the eyes it makes them smile which makes me feel great! This silly act makes me not take life so seriously. Allowing time for childlike frivolity is important for your overall wellbeing. Having fun and taking joy where you can get it can make a huge difference in your life!

8. Emotional freedom technique (EFT)

Emotional freedom technique or tapping as it is often called is a great way to break the cycle of stress or anxiety in any given moment. There are many videos online on how to do this technique. Click here for a great video.

9. Self-massage

Form your hand into a loose fist and tap the fist up and down your arms, back and legs for a few minutes in a percussive manner. There is no need to do it hard, just create a nice sensation. I like to percuss down the inside of my arm and up the outside to the shoulder then switch hands and do the other side. You can do the same thing up the back of the legs to the butt, down the sides and up the front. It doesn't really matter how you do it, just do what feels right. This moves your qi and you should feel calmer and maybe a little tingly afterward. A few minutes of this are enough to break the cycle of stress and change your attitude. Be sure to take some nice deep breaths afterward to really anchor the effect.

10. Acupuncture is your best ally

Acupuncture is amazing at dealing with the effects of stress. It moves stagnant qi and alleviates pain and suffering in the body and return it to a state of balance. The effects of an acupuncture treatment on stress are most notable during the treatment and immediately after. The benefit of acupuncture treatments for stress can be lasting especially if you are treated regularly. Why suffer? Do something radical and take care of yourself!

11. Get outside and get barefoot

A lot of people think that getting out in nature means traveling to the mountains or the beach. Nature, plants, the sun, the moon is all around us even in the city. Research shows what hippies have known for generations. Walking barefoot on the ground, known as grounding, is good for you. It allows your body to easily obtain electrons which are needed for your healthful bodily functions. My personal favorite is grass but dirt or concrete works just as well. Taking the time to really feel what you are doing works well as a mini meditation.


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