How Chinese Medicine could help with your Anxiety

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Chinese Medicine has a different way of looking at mental illness. Rather than viewing it as a problem of the mind, we’d see it as an illness of the body. By viewing it in this way we can explain and treat emotional issues via the physical body. We see Anxiety as partly an issue with the heart and partly an issue with the blood, which the heart controls. Chinese Medicine recognises that in addition to its biological function every organ has a positive and negative emotion. For example, the heart is responsible for pumping the blood around the body but also associated with the emotions of Joy and anxiety. Interestingly, we recognise the heart/ joy connection in the West. The biological functioning of the heart is to pump blood around the body, the blood is responsible for circulating nourishment into your cells and removing waste. According to Chinese medicine the blood is also responsible for your overall emotional stability (called shen). This is important to fully understand anxiety. The minute the heart gets disrupted, by stress or for any other reason, two things can happen. anxiety symptoms can potentially occur as the heart functioning is compromised. circulation can become disrupted which compromises the blood – and as your emotional well being is housed in the blood, it takes a further hit. You may have noticed that the physical symptoms of anxiety are almost identical to those of the sympathetic nervous response caused by stress – the racing heart, the sweaty palms, the tense muscles. Anxiety usually presents with additional symptoms which largely relate to the emotional functioning of the heart as the heart becomes compromised by the stress response. So it’s crucial to self treatment to understand how to switch off the stress response, relax the body and improve blood flow.. This is why GPs and health websites will tell you to do yoga and relaxation techniques. These recommendations completely concur with Chinese Medicine which believes that ensuring unimpeded flow of blood and Qi around the body whilst breathing in a relaxed state is a vital part of treating anxiety. How the Hayo’u Method can help The Hayo’u Method is based on ancient Chinese breathing and bodywork techniques – both scientifically proven to be effective in reducing stress and anxiety. The Hayo’u Method works because it: 1 is designed to transform the stress response as it happens. 2 engages the parasympathetic response as soon as stress hits. 3 rectifies disrupted circulation. 4 supports the organs to maintain good health.

What You'll Need

  • Gua sha tool - widely available online.

What You'll Do

  • The Rescue Breath Ritual This simple technique is the first defence against stress and will immediately reduce your anxiety levels. Proper breathing restores the parasympathetic nervous system, calms the mind and heart rate, deeply oxygenates the blood, massages the internal organs and overrides any emotional negativity. The vagus nerve is the most important element of the parasympathetic nervous system (the one that calms you down when you are stressed). The vagus nerve ends your body’s fight-or-flight response once a stress has passed. The vagus nerve acts as the mind-body connection, and it is the cabling behind your heart’s emotions and gut instincts. You cannot control this part of the nervous system on demand, but you can indirectly stimulate your vagus nerve with your breath. One of the hormones released when we are anxious is noradrenaline – produced by an area in the brain called Locus Coeruleus, which is sensitive to how much carbon dioxide is in our blood so we can regulate it by deep breathing. First, expel stale air by breathing in through the nose and purposefully out through the mouth 3 times. This is to clear stagnant breath and Qi and carbon dioxide that accumulates during shallow breathing and stressful periods. Then take five deep breaths, inhale for five counts and then exhale for five. Allow mental energy to descend. During exhalation, direct a positive smile into lower abdomen. You can do an extended version of this ritual in your evening bath to activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System (rest phase).
  • It’s well known that exercise can help with day-to-day anxiety. But when anxiety hits, you aren’t always in the position to exercise, or often we don’t have time. This simple technique supports the circulation system which helps the heart and the blood. Regular exercise releases endorphins which counteract anxiety, so limiting cortisol. Shaking regulates your circulation, which is essential for strong shen. Drumming, especially over your heart and chest area, will help unblock any stagnation and ensure good flow of Qi and blood. The twist is also great for increasing blood flow into the area, which is said to improve liver function and should support your digestion and gut. Practicing this simple technique during the day improves your flow of Qi (energy) and blood around the body – essential for the nourishment of vital organs and in turn, deep and regenerative sleep. Firstly, shake all over from top to bottom to boost flagging energy, invigorate circulation, release stored tension and loosen the spine. Then, drum with a loose fist up and down legs and arms, around abdomen, lower back, head and thymus (between breasts). This invigorates the body’s energetic circulation and stimulates digestive and immune systems. Focus on drumming your kidney area as this will directly support the adrenals by oxygenating the area and unblocking Qi stagnation. Widely believed that twisting supports kidneys and adrenals. Finally, twist at the waist and swing the arms so your hands pat the lower abdomen and back. This stimulates kidneys, soothes adrenals and supports digestion. Stop doing any exercise which produces cortisol – like running, gym, boxing etc. Take gentle exercise instead, outside if at all possible. Natural light affects the pineal gland and will help reset your brains stress response. Walking, swimming and Pilates are all fantastic, relaxing workouts which don’t stress your body further.
  • Body Restorer Ritual Historically, the Chinese have relied on Gua sha to relieve any kind of pain and stagnation in the body. One of the main reasons that Gua sha is so effective is because the action exponentially increases circulation in the body. The heart and blood are the focal points for anxiety in Chinese Medicine. Focussing Gua sha on your chest will assist the heart by boosting blood flow, supplying oxygen and nutrients to the heart area and easing tension. Furthermore, we’d recommend use of our Hayo’u Body oil for the lubrication necessary for Gua sha. The combination of natural ingredients – such as Lotus flower and Frankincense – have been specifically selected to calm the Shen and relax the body. Warm oil between palms then massage liberally and firmly into body. Notice areas of stress, tension or pain. Use a firm pressure and slowly sweep a gua sha tool (or coin, if you don't have one!) across the body, following arrows on the diagram. Do 8 strokes in each direction and repeat on the other side. If you are struggling to sleep, focus more attention on your chest to help stimulate blood flow and energy around the heart and the lungs. Bathing before practicing Gua sha thins the lymph and calms the emotions, further improving the detoxification process, essential for a good night’s sleep. A foot bath works just as well, as the feet are connected to ten different zones within the body, particularly the kidneys.
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