How To Manage Stress Through Oriental Medicine

Image credit: COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali.

By Nancy Kim, L.Ac., MSTOM, Dipl.OM

2017 is well underway and this year, like many years before, we resolve to stress less. We promise ourselves that we will not be bogged down by the challenges of this lightning-paced balancing act and instead be more present for life’s joyful moments.

Yet, every year our stress levels are increasing and it shows.  It is estimated that at least 75% of primary care doctor visits are due to stress-induced disorders but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t make this the year to finally realise the changes you seek.

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Here are five principles of Oriental Medicine that will help you relax and reduce stress:

  1. Breathe

This is the simplest, quickest, and possibly most effective thing you can do for instant stress relief. The trick is to breathe with intention. As you are reading this now, take a moment to draw attention to your rhythmic inhalations and exhalations. As you inhale, expand your lower belly and with the exhale contract the belly. Repeat and feel your body and mind relax. Know you are helping to nourish your body and increase vitality via the lungs and clear air qi.

  1. Meditation

I get asked frequently, what is the best way to meditate? My answer is, the way that gets you to actually do it. Whether you decide to dive into structured meditation practices, chant mantras, or instead give yourself ten minute sessions of quiet time in the morning and evening, the point is to find what works for you, to do it consistently, and notice the benefits. Benefits include lowered blood pressure, boosted immune system, increased optimism, and an overall sense of calm. Give yourself a timeline: commit to daily meditation for 21 days. Recommit again and again until it becomes an inexorable part of your daily routine.

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  1. Exercise

This is not just any kind of exercise, but kind exercise. When you are overworked, overwhelmed, and overcome your body’s qi is not flowing smoothly. Chances are when you’re highly stressed, you’re also depleted. Treat your body with respect and move wisely by doing something you enjoy: walking in nature, yoga, or qi gong. Choose a practice that focuses on engaging your awareness and supports the connection between mind and body.

  1. Eat root vegetables

Root vegetables like sweet potatoes, yams, white potatoes, beets, and carrots help to nourish yin thereby anchoring your energy and helping you to feel grounded and calm.  Use in warm stews, soups, or lightly roasted and eat with the intention of cultivating peace of mind.

  1. Acupuncture and other therapies

Receiving bodywork and energy work during periods of high stress is vital. Acupuncture switches on the rest, relax, and repair mode in the body while tonifying your weakness and moving excesses and stagnation. Results are a sense of deep rest, clarity, and improved stamina to help you tackle what comes your way. Make the time to address your needs. No excuses permitted.

Nancy Kim is the oriental medicine consultant at the COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali. She is a US Nationally certified and licensed acupuncturist and holds a Master’s of Science degree in Oriental Medicine from Pacific College in San Diego, California. She has a special interest in helping women to master the needs of their body during each changing stage of life, helping to empower them by improving health and preventing disease. For more information on the oriental medicine programme at the COMO Shambhala Estate, click here.

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