We all have stress and worry in our lives, ranging from school and job commitments, to relationship woes between loved ones, friends, neighbors, and co-workers, as well as world-wide events taking their toll on our minds. A recent study by a Danish group of researchers published earlier this month in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health shows evidence that increased amounts of stress and worrying are associated with an increased mortality rate especially among middle aged men and women as well as the unemployed. Does this mean that we are all doomed? NO! There are lots of things that you can do to help reduce the impact that stress and worry has on your life.
So what can you do to help with stress and worry? One of the best things is to get some exercise. You don’t have to go and lift weights or run a marathon, even just a short walk around the block can help you to calm down and let the stress and worry fade away. Bike Rides, Yoga and Taiji are other great ways to alleviate some stress. Foods can also help to alleviate stress and worry or they can exacerbate it. My favorite de-stressor is a chai tea, the anise, licorice, and cardamom and sweetness all help to move that stress along so that I can relax. Try and avoid over eating and drinking, heavy meals, lots of red meats and excessive amounts of dairy foods and sweets to keep your body balanced and healthy. Taking some time away from stressful situations to relax is another great way to feel better. Reading a novel, meditation or taking a bath can be a great way to wind down after a stressful day.
Worry and issues with relationships can be a little harder to address, but I find personally that taking action and using good communication are the best things that help me in these areas. If I am worrying about something, I will try and either find-out some more information or try and do something about it, at least taking a step in the right direction. Relationships can be hard as well, but human beings are social creatures, and I find that being honest and trying to maintain open lines of communication can be the best ways to keep everyone happy.
In Chinese medicine, stress and worry are frequently thought of as causes of disease if they occur regularly over time. Stress can lead to anger issues, headaches and migraines, pain throughout the body and many other things. Worry can be associated with poor digestion, insomnia, trouble concentrating, and low energy. Stress is usually associated with the Liver and Gallbladder system in Chinese medicine, with the Spleen being the chief organ associated with worry and overthinking. Interestingly, too much stress, an i.e. an overactive Liver, can affect the Spleen, resulting in digestive disturbance, poor concentration, worry, and low energy.
Acupuncture and Herbal Medicines are other great ways to help alleviate stress, worry, and the other symptoms that may be associated with their long term presence, in fact, aside from pain, they are probably some of the most frequently treated complaints.
So the next time you are feeling stressed out or worrying about something, take some action to take care of yourself. Take a break, have a healthy snack, talk with someone, go for a walk, or whatever your favorite activity is. Our health and wellness are our own responsibilities, no one else can do it for us!
For a summary of the Stress Study, click here.
For the original journal article, click here.