Virtually everyone in our modern culture experiences stressful events on a daily basis – unrelenting demands, busy schedules, and financial and relationship challenges. Even positive events such as starting a new job, getting married or parenting a new baby can be stressful. To compound what’s going on around us, many of us suffer from self-generated stress, when we worry or obsess about things over which we have no control, such as what a coworker is thinking about us.

Stress is defined as any demand, whether environmentally or internally generated, which challenges or exceeds our adaptive resources. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in the body and can cause or exacerbate the following health conditions:

– High blood pressure and Heart Disease
– Fatigue/low energy
– Headaches
– Insomnia
– Cravings for sugar, alcohol, caffeine and drugs
– Persistent aches and pains
– Mood swings, anxiety and depression
– Digestive distress
– Allergies
– Poor memory and concentration

While the number of health problems related to stress is alarming, the scientific literature is replete with studies demonstrating that stress reduction techniques have clear health benefits. Incorporating stress reduction techniques into your day is an act of self-care which requires discipline just like eating a nutritious diet and getting regular exercise. To help you on the road to better health, here are a few ways in which you can reduce stress right now:

Breathe Deeply: To combat the effects of stress right away, deep breathing is easy and effective. It also has amazing health benefits. Take a five-minute break as often as possible throughout your day to do some deep breathing. You can do this anywhere – at your desk, in your car or while standing in line at the supermarket. You have nothing to lose and much to gain by incorporating deep breathing into your daily routine.

Get Enough Sleep: Sleep is essential for your body to function properly and it is a great stress reliever. If stress is keeping you up at night, a relaxing routine can help get you to sleep. Take a bath or read a relaxing book. Avoid stimulating activities such as television, games or looking at your devices.

Listen to Music: Music can be used to help reduce stress and cultivate a calm atmosphere. Keep the volume low and choose music that is soothing. Recorded sounds of nature can also be helpful.

Make Time for Fun: Activities outside of work and home can be a great way to break up the week and alleviate stress. If you don’t know where to start, then think about what you enjoyed as a child, e.g. reading, playing music or sports, art, etc.

Be Gratitude: Whenever you’re feeling stressed by a situation, find something for which you can feel grateful. For example, when you’re in traffic and feeling upset about it, you can remind yourself how lucky you are to have a car, or you can use the time to focus on all the blessings in your life.

Exercise: Regular exercise increases circulation and elevates the mood. Even a 5-10 minute walk around the block is an effective way of reducing stress.

Get Acupuncture: Acupuncture is an excellent stress reducer and it has many health benefits including the ability to deeply calm the nervous system, reduce blood pressure, relieve pain, improve circulation and strengthen the immune system. It helps people feel calmer and more emotionally balanced.

The bottom line is that reducing stress will help you feel better and keep you healthy. Find a stress relieving activity that appeals to you and make it part of your routine.

To Your Health,

Sandra Ludlow LAc, MSOM
Acupuncture and Holistic Medicine Inc.
1283 Gilman Street,
Berkeley CA 94706