acupuncture and anxiety

5 Steps To Live Anxiety Free

If you struggle with anxiety, if it’s getting in the way of your everyday life, stopping you from enjoying the things around you, then you are not alone. Our modern life is full of stresses. From random acts of violence, politics or the impact of the environment on ourselves and our health to the ‘small’ everyday stresses on the road (did you just see that car overtaking!?!) or at work, who wouldn’t be anxious?

It is estimated that about 1 in 6 persons have been affected by an ‘neurotic health problem’ in the previous week and women are twice more likely to be affected than men.

There are many types of anxiety, from the very circumstantial anxiety of doing a talk in front of a big audience to more chronic disorders such as panic attacks or general anxiety disorder (GAD).

By learning how to reset our ways to respond to stress, you can allow to calm the anxiety down.

1 : Recognise what is going on

Very often, anxiety shows itself through very physical symptoms. You might be feeling your heart beating, sometimes very quickly, having a feeling of weight over your chest, getting dizzy or nauseous. You might be struggling to fall asleep at night, have some unsettling dreams or nightmares. Or you might have the urge to just run away to escape the situation. All of those are symptoms of anxiety kicking in, a biological response to a perceived threat, even when there is no immediate or direct threat. Remember these are just feelings, not the reality.

2: First Aid technique

The best way to calm anxiety on the go is to concentrate on your breath. Breathing in and out slowly from your nose will help calming your heart rate and your breathing as well as relax your body and mind.

First breathe in through your nose counting to 4, have a brief pause and then breathe out through your nose counting to 4 again. Whilst breathing out, concentrate on any area of tension (shoulders and the forehead when you are frowning are two areas where we often hold our tension) and visualize the tension melting away.

3: Exercise

This is simple. Exercise is wonderful to reduce stress and therefore anxiety. Any exercise is ok but even more so if you really enjoy it.

4 : Massage P6

P6 is an acupuncture point on the inside of your arm. This is the same point that is used to ease travel sickness so you can either massage the point with a finger for a couple of minutes on each side or use one of those travel sickness band.

To locate the point:P6 is situated between the two tendons on the inside of your arm, about 3 finger width from the wrist (see picture). To check that you are at the right place, put some pressure on that point. It should feel slightly ‘bruisy’.

 

 PC6 image

 

5: Get some acupuncture

In my clinic, I regularly see people who are or have suffered with anxiety. Acupuncture and ear acupuncture (where you put some very small needles in the ear) are both very efficient at calming anxiety down. But they can also make the body itself stronger so that people are more able to deal with anxiety inducing situations, tackling both the symptoms and the root of the issue.

 

Over to you

What are your tips to calm anxiety? Not every tip will work with everyone and you might have to do a bit of trial and error before finding what is working best for you.

 

We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you tackle anxiety. Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.

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The Secret Of A Healthy Life

There has been a recurring subject coming up recently in my clinic. One about self-care. Whether you want to have more energy, be more relaxed or less anxious, the first step is often to start looking after yourself better.

Let’s be honest, we’ve all done it. Whether you are working long hours as a nurse, a teacher or a business person or simply because you’ve wanted to do it all yourselves, work, family and friends, we’ve all fallen into that trap at some point. And the result is always the same. Running on empty, feeling exhausted, being grumpy and irritable.

The first step? Making self-care a priority. And that starts by putting yourself first.

I am sure you have come across the expression ‘You can’t pour from an empty glass’. This describes very well the fact you can’t give if your own glass is empty. To be able to give to others, work well, support your team or your children, you need to have something to give, some energy left in the glass. That’s why taking time to refill your glass up is so essential and selfishly selfless. That’s why it should be part of everyone’s life.

 

Self-care is a routine in your day, week and year when you take the time to nourish yourself, replenish your energy levels and relax.

 

1-   Take 15 minutes a day to pause

Spend 15 minutes doing an activity that makes you feel good. Maybe it’s something that makes you laugh, something that helps you relax or something that makes you feel great about yourself.

A list of things you could do

  • Go for a walk or do some exercise
  • Write in a journal
  • Watch a funny video
  • Read an inspirational book
  • Listen to some music you love, one that makes you want to stand up and dance (and do it!)
  • Sing (you can sing in the shower so no one can hear you if you feel too self-conscious)
  • Have a bath with Epson Salt and Lavender
  • Have a look at this post for more ideas.

 

2-   Have a pause in your week

This is about having a break in the week, maybe a couple of hours to spend doing something on your own (No children allowed!)

You could:

  • Try something new that you have always been wondering about
  • Go for a massage (or an acupuncture treatment!)
  • Take an hour to read a book in a café without being disturbed
  • Go for a long walk in the countryside or even in a park near home
  • Do some gardening
  • If you are feeling artistic, do some art (painting, music etc…)
  • Do some meditation or go to a meditation class …

 

3-   Have a break in the year.

I personally know that I need some regular break during the year. So, I take a break every 4 months or so as I know that keeps me well. Longer than that and I am feeling much more tired (and then I start dropping balls too!). See what is working well for you. How long can you work without a holiday and still be well? What do you tend to do? Book your holidays as it comes or are you more purposeful?

Things that can make a difference when you take a longer break:

  • If you have the possibility, try and go away. Being somewhere different helps the energy move in the body and is therefore much more relaxing than staying a home
  • Have a break for a day (or more) from all electronics. No emails (of any type!), no social media. Switch your phone or tablet off for the day and enjoy your time without being disturbed by constant notifications.
  • If possible, have a two consecutive weeks break once in the year. The first week, we seem to switch off from our daily life and it’s in the second week that we start to really recover from tiredness.

 

4-   Put it in your diary.

The only way you can do all that is to be purposeful about it. You need to make it and treat it as something important, even essential, in your life.

  • Plan the year ahead and put your holidays down at work and in your calendar.
  • Write down your break in the week in your calendar. Treat it with the same importance than if it was a meeting at work or an appointment with your GP (Because it is as important!) and don’t let other people encroach into that time.
  • Make your daily 15 minutes of pause part of your normal daily routine. Maybe it will be part of your lunch break or something you will do once the kitchen is tidy at the end of the day. Making it part of your routine just like brushing your teeth is the best way to be sure it will happen every day.

 

Over to you:

Do you have a daily routine to relax at the end of the day or nourish yourself? Or is part of the long list of things you ‘ought’ to do or were doing until life just took over?

 

We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you on your journey to health. Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.

Discover the 5 Pillars of Health and learn how you can get your life back on track with our free eBook.

 

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Are You In Danger Of Burning Out?

In a society where the ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality is put on a pedestal, where long hours are the norm, burnout has become an epidemic.

Burnout tends to affect more women than men, probably due to the numerous plates we are supposed to keep up in the air. Our roles as a mother, a wife, a worker, a daughter, a friend etc…. are putting constant demands on us.

But most of us know what it feels to run on empty, whilst not giving ourselves the time to refuel and recover. Add to that the pace of our life, increasingly higher expectations and job insecurity, a big portion of us feels they are constantly under stress. So it’s easy to see how we can end up feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.

 

What is burnout?

Burnout is a mixture of:

Exhaustion:  Feeling emotionally exhausted, depleted, and a loss of energy.

Cynicism:  Having a negative attitude toward clients and those you work with, feeling irritable, and withdrawing from people and activities you once enjoyed.

Inefficacy:  Experiencing diminished personal accomplishment, a perceived decline in competence or productivity, and expending energy at work without seeing any results.

Research discovered that men and women process these burnout dimensions differently.  Women typically experienced exhaustion first, followed by cynicism, then inefficacy. The men, on the other hand, tended to experience cynicism first and then exhaustion.

What are the signs of burnout?

Burnout is always associated with some very physical and emotional symptoms such as

1-    Chronic fatigue, from being tired every day to full on exhaustion where you just can’t face the day ahead.

2-    Insomnia

3-    Lack of focus and concentration

4-    Physical symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal pain, dizziness, fainting or headaches (all of which should be medically assessed).

5-    Increased illness.

6-    No appetite

7-    Anxiety and depression

8-    Anger

 

Burnout in Chinese Medicine.

In Chinese medicine, burnout is what we call a mixed syndrome, one side made of excess (in this case excess stress) and the other of deficiency (tiredness/exhaustion coming from basically doing too much without appropriate rest).

These two sides can feed each other. Stress has an impact on the body, including the digestive system. The more stressed we are, the more impact it has, weakening the digestive system and therefore making us weaker and more tired.

But also, as we are getting more tired, we tend to get stressed more easily, react more quickly. I’m sure most of us have experienced being very short tempered (or feeling low) after a long day (or week!) at work.

I often describe the way the body deals with energy as having two bank accounts. One is a current account that is filling up thanks to a good night of sleep and the appropriate food we are eating. The other is a saving account of energy. As we are going through our day, we are using the energy from our current account. If one day, we are doing too much (aka we need more energy than what is available in our current account), we can go withdraw some energy from our saving account to carry on with our day without too much impact.

If we carry on like this for a while, our saving account is likely to get really low and that’s when we start experiencing so many of the symptoms associated with tiredness/exhaustion, the lack of appetite, anxiety, some type of insomnia, lack of concentration etc…. that are so present when people are burnout.

To be able to feel well again, we need to replenish our saving account. And this happens when we have a little bit of energy leftover at the end of the day in our current account and we can ‘transfer’ it to our saving account at night.

 

“The first step to heal from burnout is Self Care”

The first step to heal from burnout is self care. In this case, self care is to:

–       Learn to handle our energy levels better

–       Balance our stress so it affects us as little as possible.

 

 5 Ways To Heal Burnout

1-    Eat well.

As the saying goes, ‘You are what You eat’. To be able to feel well and recover that energy, we need to put the right sort of fuel in our bodies. This means drinking enough water and eating a balanced diet. It also means avoiding foods that are creating spikes in your blood sugar level. These are what we call ‘sweet foods’ in Chinese medicine and too much sweetness is weakening the digestive system (Remember the digestive system is where we get the energy from our food. A weaken digestive system means we wont be as efficient to get that energy across). Avoiding sweets, biscuits, white pasta and bread etc… will allow you to recover your energy more quickly by strengthening the digestive system.

2-    Sleep well.

Look at how much sleep you are getting. For a week or so, listen to your body and go to bed when you are ready (rather than when the film finishes or when you think it’s’ the ‘right’ time to go to bed). Watch when you are then waking up, if you wake up on your own or because of your alarm, how you are feeling in the morning. It will quickly become clear that you need a certain number of hours to feel well. For some of us, this will be 7 hours, for others it will be 8 or 9.5 hours or maybe 6 hours. Everyone is different. And then make sure you go to bed early enough to get those hours of sleep every night.

3-    Remember the saying ‘you can’t pour water from an empty glass’? Well this is the time to fill your glass again.

First of all, decide what activities are nourishing for you. For some people, it will be meeting up with friends, for others going out in the countryside and for others again, this will be having some quiet time on your own or listening to music. Listen to yourself and see what is making you feel happy and well.

Then commit to do one of those activity at least once in the week. Get some ‘ME time’ focusing on feeling well again.

4-    Learn to say NO.

Sometimes there are so many demands on our time that we can’t possibly do it all. If we don’t want to have to constantly dig into our saving account (or even better if we want to fill it again), we need to make a choice and decide what is and isn’t really essential in light of the amount of energy we actually have (rather than the energy we are ‘supposed to have’). When another mum at school is asking us to bake some cakes for the school fete, can we do it? Do we have enough energy or are we going to dip into our savings? Is it essential or can we actually say ‘I’m sorry but not this time’?

5-    Plan some activities to lower your stress levels.

It is best to spend a little bit of time, 10~15 mins every day doing something that will help you relax. Have a look here at ideas of things you can do.

 

Over To You

What is helping you when you are starting to feel overwhelmed and burnt out? Do you have strategies in place and are they working for you?

 

We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you on your journey to a health . Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.

Discover the 5 Pillars of Health and learn how you can get your life back on track with our free eBook.

 

Sign up below.

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