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Stress and Health

by Dr. Aihan Kuhn, CMD, November 10, 2014

We live with different life styles, have different personalities, have different occupations, and come from different cultures. We are all different, but we can also be happy with who we are, what we do, how much we have, and with whom we associate with.

Stress is a global hazard that may not kill us right way, but will affect lives of millions of people. Stress is the number one cause of disease. Chronic stress can cause hypertension, heart disease, cholesterol problem, insomnia, digestive problem, weight problem, depression, anxiety, kidney disease, cancer, and more. As a doctor of holistic medicine, I really want to help people to understand the importance of prevention.

Stress Is Everywhere

First of all, we want to recognize what causes stress.  Stress is everywhere; we cannot avoid it. But we can certainly find ways to not let stress harm us. When we feel stressed, it is because our body and our mind response to the situation in an anxious, taxing way.  We feel tense and tired, may experience hyperventilating, headaches, insomnia, our voice turns high pitched and loud, the tone is sharp, aggressive, our face turns red, our heart beat is faster, our blood pressure is higher, our breath is shorter, and we feel upset. We tend to blame. However, some people will do just the opposite, stop talking, lose interest in things, or even use food more often. These are dangerous ways and will affect your health and quality of life.

If we can find ways to improve our response, our body will naturally feel better. Since we cannot change the situation, we can change our self by finding the best way to neutralize the situation and then move forward.  For example, just do the work and don't be stressed.  If the situation cannot be fixed right way, seek temporary distance from it so that you can begin to find a new solution to the problem that caused the stress.

Stress Can Be Positive

Stress is not really a bad thing because we can always learn something from external stress. And learning is positive.  My sister taught me this, "There is always a way."  I then realized that is so true. We always find the way to do things, if we are not stuck.  All we really need to do is work on our self, to let our body and mind respond to the situation in a natural way and not a stressful way.

There can be stress relief methods in communication. Language is an art. It is a living art we should all pay attention to.  "I" versus "you" is better way to communicate. We may use "I feel..." "I would like..." "I think..." "I may have..." "I could have..." "I hope..." This way seems more modest. Pointing a finger to others is aggressive and criticizing and will less likely solve problems. Speak in a peaceful way enabling the other person's response to you is also peaceful.

Not everyone is trained to know how to communicate in the right way, but if you just take three deep breaths before you speak, your tone will be better. And through these three deep breaths, you will bring more oxygen to your brain, and you may come up with better wording. Deep breath is the first element of qi gong. 

We should also try to think of the other person, or put our self in that person's position. By doing this we would better understand that person.  When we have right communication, the stress on both parties is lessened.  Positive communication always helps the situation and it is healthier.

Turn Your Thoughts To Good Things

Think of and appreciate good things during stressful times.  And think of those people who love you, and can help you go through hard times. We've all have had difficult times at some point of life. But think a moment, for all the hard times; we've had more good things in our life than the average person on this planet. We live in a much better place than most people in the world. We have more food than we can consume, we have more clothes than we can ever wear, we are blessed. The hard time is like a storm that comes and goes. Therefore, there is no need to think the negatives when something did not work the way we wanted.  Things will work out at the end.

If you really feel stressed and unable to shake it off, here are some methods I have used and shared in the past. They are quite effective:

  1. Drink a cup of tea, to sooth your mind, especially Jasmine tea.  Absolutely no alcohol or any kind of substance.
  2. Listen to beautiful music or relaxation music. Music is very healing
  3. Pick a song you like, and sing—sing it loud. Singing is very good for you no matter if you have a good voice or not. Singing loud opens your lung energy, exercises your voice, lifts your energy, and your spirit.
  4. Read a book, any book; it takes your mind away from stress
  5. Talk to your family or friends; don't be afraid to call them. If no one answers the phone, than call someone else. I am sure you will find someone to talk to. When you let things out, the feeling of stagnation can be released from your body.
  6. Practice Qi Gong or Tai Chi. It will give you instantaneous relief from stress, and it will last all day.

Practicing Qi Gong and Tai Chi will:

  1. Open the energy pathway in the body, remove the stagnations, and you will feel better right way
  2. Bring more oxygen to body and brain, especially the emotion center
  3. Balance autonomic function
  4. Balance organ energy
  5. Make you more rooted, grounded, calmer, clearer

How to do it? Here are some simple Qi Gong exercises for you to try if you have not studied Qi Gong before:

  1. Eagle fly:  Feet should be apart, breathe deeply and slowly—inhale, raise arms from side then all the way up above head, exhale, lower arms until back to the original position. Do this movement for 4 to 8 times
  2. Move Qi through organs: place hands behind lower back, inhale, raise hands up as high as you can, bring to front continue to raise up, then exhale press down. Do this movement for 4 to 8 times
  3. Side reach: take a big step to side; inhale, place arms to side shoulder level, exhale, and lean body to left, your upper arm goes above your head.  Stay for another breath. Then do it opposite.
  4. Bending forward: feet together, interlock your fingers, take a deep breath push palms upward, exhale slowly bending forward until reach feet, or bending forward as low as you can; stay in this position for three breaths.

Further information about Qi Gong and other wellness programs may be found on my web site.

Aihan Kuhn, C.M.D., is a Chinese medical doctor trained in both Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine. She is a graduate of the Hunan Medical University, Changsha China. In China, Dr. Kuhn practiced OB/GYN in Chinese hospitals (1983-1988), studied Tai Chi and Chi Kung (since 1978) and returns each year to advance her training in both Traditional Chinese Medicine and martial arts.


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