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Offered by: Jessica Ahmed, LAc, DiplOM – Brighton Acupuncture

As our lives seem to get fuller and faster all the time, “stress” has changed from a smart adaptation to help us survive to one of the biggest complaints in our culture. Symptoms of stress range from irritability, frustration, anxiety and depression on the emotional side to physical tolls such as tight necks, backs and shoulders. Fatigue, unwanted weight gain/loss and insomnia are additional effects of stress, and it is a contributing factor in many serious health conditions, including heart disease.

While we cannot always change the circumstances in our lives, we can learn to deal with stress more productively. Small changes can add up quickly, so here are a few things to try:

  • Food: Focus on whole foods such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, dairy, eggs and lean meat. If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, you might reconsider eating it! Limit stimulants such as caffeine, as well as sugar and refined carbohydrates.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise is critical to maintaining healthy stress levels. Try finding things you like doing such as hiking or dancing to keep it fun, and don’t forget to stretch.
  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture can provide an immediate feeling of relaxation, and is calming to the nervous system. Over time, your body learns to deal with stress more productively.
  • Herbal Medicine: Chinese herbal formulas help alleviate symptoms associated with stress, including insomnia, fatigue and physical tension.
  • Sleep: Everyone needs a different amount, so make sure you are getting sufficient sleep for your body.
  • Breathing: Stress breathing is usually shallow, rapid and higher up in the chest, so focus on taking slow, deep breaths lower in your belly. Let your abdomen expand while you inhale and deflate while you exhale.

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