Yes, please! I thought I knew a lot about the subject until my son was born 20 months ago (those of you who are parents may recall this time). Needless to say, I’ve had to up level my game. Acupuncture has been my saving grace, in addition to exercise, yoga and meditation.

Even with these, I found that to feel my calmest, I needed to practice stress relief all day long. I wrote this blog to share my secrets with you. You might be going through a particularly stressful time too, or just looking for some more stress relief tools. Here you go!

 

7 Tips to Less Stress

1 Lavender Essential Oil

Oils may appear to be lightweight, but do not let this fool you. They are powerful. Lavender calms the nervous system and soothes the heart. It helps with anxiety, trouble sleeping, and promotes relaxation.

To practice:

  • Inhale a few breaths
  • Put a few drops in an epsom salts bath
  • Diffuse in your bedroom or office
  • Apply to soles of the feet and chest
2 Earthing/Grounding

Tai Qi and Qi Gong practitioners have known the benefits of grounding for thousands of years. Recently this knowledge has become mainstream. As mentioned in a study in The Journal of Environmental and Public Health, reconnecting with the Earth’s electrons, helps the body shift from a sympathetic (fight, flight or freeze) to a parasympathetic (relaxation) state. It has a long list of additional positive physiological effects such as improving sleep, heart rate variability, decreasing pain and lowering inflammation levels.

To practice: Stand on the earth barefoot, wherever is convenient — dirt, grass, sand, you name it. Stand, belly breathe and feel your feet on the earth. I recommend at least 10 minutes but any amount is helpful.

3 Balance Your Blood Sugar

Ever been hangry (that is, hungry and cranky)? Yup. That’s what happens when blood sugar levels swing high or low. Funny how stress seems to escalate when you’re hungry… hmmm…

To practice: Prevention works wonders. Eat small meals every few hours with protein or fat. Limit carbs, starchy vegetables, fruit and sugar. Here’s some healthy blood sugar balanced snack ideas.

4 Breathe

It’s true, I talk about breathing all the time. With good reason – it’s one of the best tools we have. Belly breathing instantaneously calms you down. When I teach patients to belly breathe, I’ll have them take 5 breaths and tell me how they feel. The answer is always ‘better’. Belly breathing relaxes the nervous system, moves energy (think emotions and nagging thoughts), and integrates mind, body and spirit.

To practice: You can use this tool anytime, anywhere. To inhale, simply breathe through the nose directly into the belly. Exhale through the nose or mouth and retract belly back in towards the spine.

5 Listen To Your Needs Sometimes relieving stress is as easy as being kind to yourself and meeting your needs. Indeed, not getting our needs met can be a huge stress. Oftentimes we choose to ignore our body because we think we have to. When this arises, I encourage you to find out what’s really true, and see how you can meet your own needs in the moment.

To practice: Listen to your body. In pain? Is there anything you can do to relieve it? Try stretching, self massage, changing positions etc… Need to pee? Stop what you’re doing and take a pee break. It’s amazing how simply meeting our needs can exponentially lower stress.

6 Herbs I’m a huge fan of herbs for stress. Not only do they relieve the symptoms of stress, they can actually lower cortisol (the stress hormone) levels and help the nervous become more adaptable.

Since inflammation and chronic disease is a result of stress, these herbs are also preventative. Studies show herbs like ashwagandha and rhodiola rosea lower c-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) and cortisol. In addition to these, some of my favorites include l- theanine, phoshatidylserine and panax ginseng.

To practice: There’s many options for stress relief herbs. Always consult with your acupuncturist or herbalist about what is best for you, and to avoid any potential herbal or drug interactions.

7 Tune In & Surrender For a moment, imagine yourself in nature. It could be the mountains, the forest or the ocean. There is, what I like to call, a divine flow evident in nature. Flowers bloom, birds sing, the ocean tides come & go… and all of this happens outside of our control.

If this divine flow happens in nature, it surely happens in our lives. What would happen if you welcomed this higher force instead of fighting against it? The desire to control our outside world is stressful. Because we can’t. We can only control our reaction to it.

To practice: Practice letting go. Note that letting go doesn’t mean being passive. It’s a matter of discerning when you’ve done your part, and when you have, let it go.

The next time you get aggravated over being late, stuck in traffic or anything that bugs you in your life, once you’ve exercised your will, try letting go and opening to the possibility that there might be a higher force operating with your best interest in mind. When we tune in and surrender, we open ourselves to that divine universal flow. We naturally begin breathing deep and enjoying the beauty of the moment. And who knows what magic might happen next?