How to deal with and relieve anxiety
Generalised Anxiety Disorder has become the most prevalent mental health problem in the world.*
On average 1 in 6 of us will contend with an anxiety disorder at some stage in our lives – women more than men. anxiety and depression have increased by 75% in the last twenty five years amongst teenagers.
Anxiety can manifest in a multitude of different symptoms. These include tense muscles and headaches, feeling light headed or dizzy, a fast, thumping or irregular heartbeat, sweating, raised blood pressure, insomnia and panic attacks.
In addition to these physical symptoms, anxiety causes negative thoughts and feelings which can feel overwhelming – feeling tense, nervous and on edge, having a sense of dread, feeling like the world is speeding up or slowing down, feeling restless and not being able to concentrate – or even just feeling numb.
Western treatments for anxiety disorders include relaxation techniques and sometimes antidepressants or relaxants, depending on the severity of the case.
How Chinese Medicine views Anxiety
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 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.
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 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.
The Reset Ritual
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.
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.
Reduce stress and you’ve already taken the first steps towards treating anxiety. Bathing is used the world over to relieve stress, simply because hot water relaxes your muscles. Relaxed muscles send a message to the alarm centres in the brain that there’s no threat, thus immediately engaging your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).
Soaking in hot water activates blood and energy throughout the body. So add Hayo’u Mineral Bath to charge up your bath with our magnesium rich blend of salts and minerals. Magnesium helps the brain produce neurotransmitters that reduce stress. The powdered rose quartz in our Mineral Bath is especially relevant for reducing anxiety as it is known as the heart gemstone.
We advocate combining your bath with an extension of our breath technique. The combination of water, the Hayo’u Rescue Breath Ritual and our specially formulated ingredients will enable you to simultaneously expel the toxicity of stress from the body’s physical, emotional and energetic levels to effectively alleviate anxiety.
* according to a World Mental Health Survey of 18 countries.
Disclaimer: Gua Sha is a treatment designed to relieve muscular pain and tension and improve circulation. Results vary according to age, strength of body, skin type and medical conditions. If you are under the age of 16 and over the age of 60 or suffering specific medical conditions we do not recommend using the Body Restorer™. At no point should treatment feel painful. Always start gently, observing the reaction to your skin and proceed with caution. If in any doubt, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or seek medical advice. This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions.
Breathing, inflammation and the vagus nerve
Assessment of the Effects of Pranayama/Alternate Nostril Breathing on the Parasympathetic Nervous System in Young Adults.
Anant Narayan Sinha – Published 2013 in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research
Gua Sha and microcirculation
Effects of Gua Sha on Heart Rate Variability in Healthy Male Volunteers under Normal Condition and Weightlifters after Weightlifting Training Sessions
Gua Sha therapy could facilitate the parasympathetic nervous activity and modulate the balance between parasympathetic and sympathetic activitie
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