Mood swings, irritability and tension are some of the most prevalent signs of stress in our lives. These symptoms become overwhelming for many of us, and often we turn to self-management strategies like overindulging in food or alcohol, or vegging out in front of the TV. Unfortunately, these behaviours don’t address the causes of our stress, and can lead to further health imbalances.
From the moment our feet touch the floor each morning we have the choice of going about our day consciously or not. It’s easy to go through the motions and let circumstances control us, rather than the other way around. However, it’s not very satisfying and we never quite get on top of things that way. Alternatively, we can shape them from the start and go into the day from a good place physically, mentally, and emotionally. Then, even if events don’t unfold the way we’d like them to and stress creeps up, we’re in a better place to respond. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or miracle cure for managing stress; however, there are some strategies we can use to reduce stress related symptoms.
Here are a few tips to get started:
We are dehydrated by morning, so it’s best to have a glass or two of water before we hit the tea or coffee. Good hydration gets your body going in the right direction from the start.
MOVE YOUR BODY
A walk around the block, a jig around the kitchen or a few stretches in the hallway will boost your circulation and improve the way your body and your mind function. Some of us like to wake up with a session in the gym or a few laps in the pool, but even if you don’t fit into that category, it works to do something. In general, exercise is a fantastic self-help strategy to regulate the flow of Liver energy. Any stagnation of Liver Qi that leads to pain or emotional distress can be helped by physical movement.
Specific herbal and nutritional supplements can help restore harmony to the nervous and hormonal systems. If irritability and mood swings are more chronic or substantial, Chinese herbs provide a great option to restore Liver energy and bring back a balanced emotional state. For women in particular, premenstrual mood swings can be addressed very sufficiently with acupuncture and herbal Medicine.
Ideally, you want your breakfast to include protein, good fats, for example – coconut oil, cold pressed olive oil or avocado, and vegies or fruit. Good nutrition leaves you feeling alert and energized, and will help you navigate even the busiest routine. You can definitely do better than a bowl of processed cereal to start your day.
Connect with friends and family and laugh about life. Support and interaction are what your emotional health needs in order to reduce the physical symptoms of stress.
Did you know that more laughter in your life can alter your internal chemistry and create a better functioning metabolism? Laughter changes the expression of your genes.
When we intentionally practice gratitude, we improve our self-esteem and overall mental wellbeing. Try starting a gratitude journal where you can write down something that you are grateful for each day. You can actually also be grateful for something in the future by visualizing a particular goal you want to achieve. Write down three things you are thankful for every day.
We are generally quite hard on ourselves and often don’t acknowledge our own efforts. Celebrate your achievements and resilience. When you are going through difficult or stressful moments, try to see these as positive challenges for growth and development. Recognise the growth that you have already made in your life!
MEDITATE ON THE GO
Deep, rhythmic, diaphragmatic breathing helps to calm the nervous system, slow the heart rate and re-centre the mind. You can use triggers to be mindful and remind you to breathe properly throughout the day. For example, use the sound of your mobile phone as a prompt to pause for a moment, breathe and centre yourself in the present. Instead of rushing to the phone as soon as it rings, let it ring 3 times before you answer. Use those three rings as a reminder to turn off your autopilot and re-centre yourself in the here and now.
Another trigger may be when you are stopped at a red traffic light. Instead of being frustrated, use the opportunity to pause and get back in touch with your body and mind, noticing how they are at that exact moment. Feel your hands on the steering wheel, feel the seat beneath you, listen to your surroundings, and make contact with the present moment.
Think of all the daily activities that can be utilized as prompts for returning to the here and now!
At the end of the day, leave the worries and stresses behind by practicing relaxation and visualisation techniques before you go to sleep. This is a great way to disconnect from the problems and frustrations that may have occurred during the day.
Get regular sleep, ideally 7 – 9 hours a night, especially between 11pm to 3am. This time relates to Gallbladder and Liver energy in a system called the ‘Chinese Clock’. At these times the Liver and Gallbladder are functioning at the height of their energy, and are performing vital metabolic functions.
In conclusion, maybe you can start by implementing three of our suggestions, focus on those you find the most appealing. Of course, the practitioners at Ondol Clinic can always help you to decide and assist with further relaxation through our many treatment options.
Mood swings and irritability are a direct result of a Liver energy imbalance. As we become more stressed, the Liver energy is unable to promote the smooth flow of Qi, Blood and Emotions. As a consequence of this obstruction, frustration, irritability and tension build up. By integrating regular, rhythmic and relaxed routines into our daily lives we can address these imbalances.