Acupuncture for Anxiety

Chinese medicine and acupuncturists view anxiety as an imbalance in your organ system called “Shan You Si” meaning “anxiety and preoccupation.” This is believed to affect your main organs: Heart, Lung, Spleen, Liver and Kidneys. Each of these organs is related to different aspects of your emotions and different energy flows within the body.

Acupuncture restores the energy and functioning of those organ systems to restore balance to your emotional state and reduce anxiety. Most people experience deep relaxation during the acupuncture treatment itself, and after a series of treatments acupuncture can contribute to lower anxiety levels.

Take Micro-Breaks

In all the busyness and doingness of your day, stress and anxiety continually build up. Your mind and body need more breaks.

Try taking micro-breaks many times a day, perhaps even many times an hour. Micro-breaks can last for just 5-60 seconds at a time. You can try many different things on your micro-breaks.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:cloud-stencil

• Stand up and stretch
• Stare out a window
• Close your eyes
• Breathe in through your nose and out forcefully through your mouth
• Step outside and look at the clouds
• Give yourself a quick hand massage
• Drink a glass of water
• Visualize the best part of your last vacation
• Imagine a peaceful nature scene – by mountain, lake, river, forest

 

Here’s what NOT to do on your micro-breaks:to-do-buster-stencil-default

• Do not multi-task
• Do not use any electronics
• Do not look at your To Do List
• Do not make a mental To Do List
• Do not eat junk food
• Do not talk to someone else

The Hugging Meditation by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh

huggingfriends-stencil“You can practice hugging meditation with a friend, a child, your parents, or even a tree. To practice, first bow to each other and recognize each other’s presence. Then, enjoy three deep, conscious breaths to bring yourself fully into the present moment.

Next, open your arms and begin hugging, holding each other for three in-and out-breaths.

  • With the first breath, become aware that you are present in this very moment and feel happy.
  • With the second breath, become aware that the other person is present in this moment and feels happy as well.
  • With the third breath, become aware that you are here together, right now, on this Earth. We can feel deep gratitude and happiness for our togetherness.

Finally, release the other person and bow to each other to show your thanks.”

Loving and Connection Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Last month I invited you to make February the LOVE month for yourself. Did you accept the invitation? If not, you can always start now! Click here if you missed the article.

This month let’s explore how loving and connecting with others helps reduce stress and anxiety, and how it impacts your health.

Oxytocin: Why You Want It

Oxytocin is the hormone of love and bonding. It helps us to feel trust and connection. It helps us to empathize and be caring and generous with others.

Oxytocin is also extremely effective at lowering cortisol (your body’s main stress chemical) and therefore can help lower the effects of stress and anxiety. The more oxytocin, the better able you are to handle life’s stressors.

Other benefits of oxytocin:

• stimulates dopamine (the feel-good hormone) and serotonin, for elevated mood
• balances out your nervous system and builds the parasympathetic nervous system which reduces anxiety
• decreases feelings of loneliness
• increases self-esteem
• reduces depression
• reduces fear and PTSD
• improves digestion
• builds the immune system
• decreases pain and inflammation

Oxytocin quite likely plays a role in why pet owners heal more quickly from illness, why couples live longer than singles, and why support groups work for people with addictions and chronic diseases.

Connect More to Get More Oxytocin

Your amazing body naturally produces oxytocin when you feel loved and connected. Here are some ways to get that feeling:

• hugsdiwithcat
• touch
• massage
• cuddling, even with a stuffed animal
• laughter
• connecting with others
• petting your cat/dog
• showing compassion
• random acts of kindness
• helping others in need
• not only giving, but receiving and letting love in
• accepting help from someone
• relaxation practices that help you feel connected to the world/people/animals around you

When we allow ourselves to connect with others in these ways, both people benefit from a boost of oxytocin!

huggingguys-stencilHug More to Reduce Stress

We have long known that human touch is calming and triggers the body’s relaxation response. Modern scientific research about oxytocin helps explain what our ancestors knew instinctively.

Hugs are a great way to increase oxytocin and activate the parasympathetic nervous system to reduce stress and anxiety.

Virginia Satir, a famous family therapist said: “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”

How many hugs a day do you give and get?

The average hug is under 10 seconds long. It doesn’t take long, so be proactive in looking for ways to increase your hugs per day, per week, per month.

Connect More = More Oxytocin = Less Stress and Anxiety

Technology that can help you Manage Anxiety

greatideaMy friend and colleague Jamie Durner is an Ayurvedic Practitioner, Wellness Educator, and Yoga Instructor.  She found a whole bunch of online resources (many are free!) for mindfulness, meditation, calming, and relaxation.

Take advantage of technology for apps, videos, and downloads to help manage stress and anxiety.

Some of these guided meditations and other tools can be helpful in as little as 2 minutes!

Check  them out in Jamie’s blog post

Intentionally Create The New Year of Your Dreams

What are your wildest hopes and dreams for Your New Year?
 
Are you ready to let go of  old patterns that have been making you unhappy?
 
What new and wonderful things are you ready to let into your life?
 
Change your thoughts, change your feelings, change your life! Di Philippi, Holistic Anxiiety Therapist
 
I offer you this 3-step ritual to allow you to honor 2015 and then consciously create Your New Year. 
 
Give yourself the gift of stopping long enough to become aware of your past year, so you can decide what you want to continue into 2016 and what you want to get rid of.  Most of us are so busy going, going, going that we lose perspective on what our past year was really like. 
 
Step 1: Remember
 
writing-stencilI like to sit down and look at  my calendar from the past year and review month-by-month. This reminds me of my choices during the past year…how did I spend my time?…who did I spent it with?…did I have a good balance of work and play?…what were the major things going on in my life in the past year? Find some concrete way like this to remind yourself of how your year really played out.

St
ep 2: Release
 
Get some loose leaf paper. Write down anything you want to let go of from the past year…worry, anxiety, regrets, mistakes, things you wish you had not said or done, pain (physical and emotional) that you want to let go of, old patterns you want to change, activities you no longer want to participate in, negative thoughts you want to stop thinking. Those things are in the past. Write them down and choose to let them go right now.
 
They do not need to go forward into 2016 with you.
 
Now rip those pages to shreds as you release those things to the past. Throw those shreds of paper in the garbage. What I literally mean is, take them outside of your home out the to garbage can and be done with them right now. Say “Good Bye. I release all this right here and now.” Now turn around and don’t look back as you return to your home, ready to create a truly NEW year.

Step 3: Re-Focus
 
Write down your answers to these questions about 2015:
  1. What are the 3 best things that happened to me?
  2. What were my 3 biggest challenges?
  3. What was the single biggest time waster in my life during the past year?
  4. How did I grow (emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, physically)?
  5. What 3 words best describe my past year?

Write down your answers to these questions about this NEW Year 2016:

  1. If I had 3 wishes for 2016 what would they be?
  2. What would I do if I knew I could not fail?
  3. What 3 words would I want my loved ones to use to describe me this year?
  4. What 3 words do I want to guide my NEW year?
  5. What 3 people or resources could help me to get all these things?
  6. What 3 steps could I take to help me move in the direction of these wishes?

Aromatherapy

greatideaAromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils to enhance well-being on all levels: body, mind, spirit, emotions, and energy. Essential oils are highly concentrated formulas of natural substances. Look for 100% pure essential oil.

Try these essential oils which are often used for stress relief:

Jasmine: Enhances mood and can help reduce anxiety

Lavender: Helps reduce production of cortisol, a key stress hormone

Tangerine: Relieves stress and fear, and helps calm the nervous system

Chamomile: You’ve heard of the tea, but try the essential oil for increased calm, peace and patience

Bergamot Orange: Energizes and helps reduce fatigue and cortisol production

Can Spirituality and Prayer Reduce Stress & Anxiety?

When new clients come into my office, I always ask what things they’ve already tried for reducing their stress and anxiety.  Usually they’ve already tried multiple things… with varied success.
 
Would it surprise you to know that PRAYER is one of the most common responses I get?  And that it is usually used with success?
 
Prayer = Anxiety Reduction Tool?
 
handsPeople don’t usually think of it that way. I know prayer is much more than that, but it sure does seem to help with the anxiety.  That’s according to many of my clients, plus some scientific research on prayer and spirituality.
 
It doesn’t matter what your spiritual or religious beliefs are.  Any faith in a Higher Power, energy, God, Spirit, Universe or whatever you may call it can bring peace, comfort, and patience.  It’s more about connection with yourself and with others, development of your personal value system, and your search for meaning in life.
 
Anxiety often includes feeling like things are out of your control, and a natural human response to that is to try harder to control things (which paradoxically creates more anxiety).  Prayer and spiritual beliefs can remind you that you are not alone, you are divinely guided and protected, and that there may be a bigger plan than you are currently aware of.
 
Serenity
 
Today I was feeling anxious about some details relating to my move to my new office.  I wanted to accept that certain details are simply out of my control at the moment, trust that all is well, and know that things will work out in the end even though I’m not sure how.  I found comfort repeating (actually singing) this common prayer:
 
Serenity Prayer
 
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
 

Scientific Research

Some interesting findings in recent studies…
 
At Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital, one study of those from Jewish and Christian faiths found that those with higher trust in a caring God reported lower levels of worry and more openness to uncertainty.  [Inability to tolerate uncertainty is associated with higher levels of anxiety.]
 
In a second study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, participants were randomly assigned to one of 3 groups:  a spiritually integrated treatment (SIT) group, a progressive relaxation group, and a control group.
 
The SIT participants received daily teachings and spiritual exercises designed to increase trust in God.  The progressive relaxation group was taught techniques for body relaxation.  The control group received no intervention of any kind.
 
Results showed that after 2 weeks, the spiritually integrated SIT group had significantly higher levels of trust and lower levels of intolerance, worry, and stress.  On the flip side, people who mistrusted God showed higher levels of worry, stress and more intolerance to uncertainty.
 

How Spirituality Can Help
 
church-stencilThe Mayo Clinic says spirituality has many benefits for stress and anxiety relief and overall mental health. It can help you:
  • Feel a sense of purpose. Cultivating your spirituality may help uncover what’s most meaningful in your life. By clarifying what’s most important, you can focus less on the unimportant things and eliminate stress.
  • Connect to the world. The more you feel you have a purpose in the world, the less solitary you feel — even when you’re alone. This can lead to a valuable inner peace during difficult times.
  • Release control. When you feel part of a greater whole, you realize that you aren’t responsible for everything that happens in life. You can share the burden of tough times as well as the joys of life’s blessings with those around you.
  • Expand your support network. Whether you find spirituality in a church, mosque or synagogue, in your family, or in nature walks with a friend, this sharing of spiritual expression can help build relationships.
  • Lead a healthier life. People who consider themselves spiritual appear to be better able to cope with stress and anxiety, and heal from illness or addiction faster.

The Calm-Down Playlist

greatidea
 
Check out these tunes that are designed to relax, calm and bring peace of mind… 
 
“Makambo,” by Geoffrey Oryema
 
“By Your Side,” by Sade
 
“Pachelbel Meets U2,” by Jon Schmidt
 
“Shadows Fall,” by Michael Hoppé
 
“Diamonds in the Sun,” by Girish
 
“Méditation,” from the opera Thaïs, Act II
 
“High and Dry,” by Radiohead
 

Silence

A while ago, I attended a Silent Meditation & Yoga retreat.  While the meditation and yoga during the retreat were wonderful and very healing, the silence was the most profound part of the experience. 

Meditating - Di Philippi, Holistic Anxiety Therapist, Wellness Counseling MilwaukeeWe have such loud and busy lives that it’s no wonder the “monkey mind” is always going, going, going.  I challenge you to create some periods of silence.  Silence means no input – no phones, computers, books, journals, movies, TV.  Silence the busy-ness of the mind.  Silence means no doing.  No doing the laundry or working out.  A human BEING instead of a human DOING.

Could you find just 15 minutes and sit in complete silence doing nothing but being?  It actually takes the mind much longer than that to silence, but if you find your mind busy in those 15 minutes occupy it with nothing but repeating “I am well, I am happy, I am peaceful.”  Let me know how you do!