Stress is defined as an internal resistance to an external force. As such, stress is actually about the relationship between you (your inner issues) and the world around you (external events).
When you resist the flow of the moment, rather than going with it, your body responds with an increase in adrenaline and a sense of pressure and physical tension which are all just normal fear based responses that are there to activate and prepare you for change and unpredictability.
Trouble does not arise from your stress response or in fact from the issue that triggered it, trouble arises when you lose your flow and your resourcefulness. In martial arts you learn that it is better to make use of the energy of your opponent rather than resist it.
So thriving in times of stress is not so much about how to manage stress, as it is about how to look after yourself on a daily basis so that you are less likely to become stressed in the first place.
Generally when you are stressed you can get so caught up in the external event that you forget to breathe or slow down and really tune into what is going on within. If you can connect with your emotional distress, your intellectual confusion, your physical exhaustion or your spiritual malaise then you have a better opportunity to get to the root of the issue rather than running from your discomfort and feeling like a victim of circumstance. Things you perceive as mistakes, hindrances and stressors could just be opportunities to do things differently.
If you can stop and breathe in order to ground and focus yourself then you can create a space to question your behaviours and take responsibility for your actions. While you can’t control the flow of the world you can support yourself by nurturing the flow and balance within your own body, mind and spirit.
Physically, mentally and emotionally you are governed by your body’s internal biological clock. There is a cyclic ebb and flow of energy within your body and in Chinese medicine there are specific two-hour periods throughout the day when qi (energy) is at its peak within each organ system (see table below). Reconnecting with your natural body clock and daily rhythms is the key to self care and will allow you to flow through your day in the least stressful way.
We often hear that the six best doctors are water, exercise, sunshine, fresh air, good diet, and rest. It turns out that the time that you do these can be just as important as what you are doing. So have a look at the table below to better understand why you might benefit from spending some time in nature by exercising first thing in the morning and then spending 15 min in the sun at noon. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper to best nourish yourself and hydrate regularly throughout the day. At the end of the day be in bed by 10.30 for the most restful sleep you can get.
Listening to and reconnecting with the natural flow of your body will help you to become physically grounded and flexible, mentally alert and adaptable, emotionally awake and agile, and spiritually aware and open to guidance so that you can roll with the punches and keep what stresses you to a minimum.
||Wake up, have a glass of water, do some meditation and exercise. Deep belly breathing, making use of your diaphragm, is great for massaging your intestines and letting go of the previous day’s consumptions.
||Have a nourishing breakfast as absorption and assimilation is at its peak. Eat breakfast like a King and this will fuel you for the day.
||Work your mind. Spleen rules the thoughts in Chinese Medicine so this is the best time for working smarter not harder.
||Network and connect with others and do what you really love to do.
||Lunch like a prince and take a few moments to breathe and relax before you face the afternoon.
||Do menial, routine, repetitive tasks that don’t require too much thought. The Bladder meridian runs down the back of your body. If you have been supporting yourself through the first half of the day then this energy will ‘have your back’. 3.30itis only hits when you haven’t been supporting yourself.
||Finish work and debrief. Kidney time is aligned with your adrenals. If you keep working away at this time you will have difficulty sleeping. The kidney energy also rules the reproductive system so this is a great time for sex.
||Pericardium or Heart Protector
||Go home, have dinner and be creative – play music, paint, write, do what inspires you.
||San Jiao or 3 heaters of the body
||Switch off all electronic devices and make your way to bed if you want a restful and restorative night’s sleep.
||Allow your unconscious mind to go into problem solving mode. Staying awake through this time deprives you of this opportunity and often sleeping on an issue allows you to come up with far better solutions than you can with your conscious mind alone.
||Allow your liver to cleans and detox your blood. If you have partied hard or had a heavy dinner your body may be struggling to detox at this time which could interrupt your sleep. This is an important recuperative time for your body.
||Breathe deeply to nourish your lungs and your immunity. Strong lungs are important as it is your breath that affects your movement between fight and flight (sympathetic nervous system) and rest and digest (parasympathetic nervous system)
If after all this you are still struggling then see your local Chinese medicine practitioner and re-sync yourself.
Your feedback and questions are always welcome so please leave a comment below.
For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Tania Grasseschi (Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs and Wholefood counselling). Tania is a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (AHPRA registered) in Kingsford and is a Contract Academic at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Sydney campus.