Symptoms of anxiety and stress almost are always present to some extent in clients who are trying to conceive or transitioning into peri menopause/menopause so I treat that a lot of this in the clinic, but to complement acupuncture and herbs there are small changes we can make to our everyday life to switch of those adrenals.
Clients often say to me that they think stress is stopping them becoming pregnant. Stress doesn’t stop you getting pregnant, it just doesn’t help. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s your fault because you are stressed all the time, but everybody, whether they are trying to get pregnant or not would prefer to feel calm, relaxed and balanced. Alongside acupuncture – here are a few things to think about.
The power of the breath to calm the mind is huge and there are many different types of breathing which can bring on slightly different effects. The great thing about it is you can do it at practically any time and whilst I haven’t got time to go into much detail here on how to do this, I can tell you that just becoming aware of your breath in itself is a huge first step.
- As you take a breath in count to 5 and feel the breath move down inside your body, take a short pause and exhale to a count of 6, when I am consciously connecting with my breath I always try to extend my exhale beyond my inhale as this sends me into relaxation very quickly
- My suggestions for a good read on this is to check out Rebecca Dennis at Breathing Tree
Food can also help calm the mind, in TCM we try to anchor the Yin aspect of Heart energy to stop the Yang from rising to the head and unsettling the “Shen” (roughly translated as our soul, or the mind). A simple diet helps this, meals which are not over complicated and do not use too many ingredients which scatters the mind and depletes the yin. Refined sugar, coffee, alcohol, very rich foods unsurprisingly should be avoided. But what to eat to make you calm?
- Mushrooms – almost all forms have an effect of settling the nerves and improving fluid balance and in almost every formula I will include one usually Fu Ling or Fu Shen
- Oyster shell which is a Chinese herb has amazing calming properties. We are not allowed to put it in our formulas which must be only plant-based but it is available as a nutritional supplement if you are inclined!
- Fruit – lemons, mulberries, mandarins are used to calm the mind, and the peel and fruit of which appear in some of our formulas.
- Seeds – chia seeds has a sedative action.
- Spices – dill and basil both have calming properties so you could brew them into a tea or add to food.
- Herbs – quite well known, chamomile, valerian, and rose hips.
3. Smells for relaxation
I tend to think that this is a bit personal, but in general the following aroma’s are said to have relaxing effects
- Lavender – probably the most popular for unwinding and destressing – French lavender is particularly useful
- Jasmine – another really popular sweet, floral scent which helps sooth tension and aid relaxation
- Lemon – usually thought of as increasing energy and alertness but it can also help you calm down and relax. I have a citrus spray in the clinic which I often use because citrus tends to be popular and inoffensive to a broad group of noses!
- Ylang Ylang – is used to help lift the mood and has a calming effect and may help lower blood pressure.
Those are my favs – but there are loads more – I have recently popped a diffuser in the clinic which you add essential oils to water. I am using a combination from The White Company called Restore, but Neom is also a good place to look both for a diffuser and or essential oils to add.
If you want to use some acupuncture points to help calm everything down – well where to start! So many to choose but here are a few favourites which are easily accessible to try at home.
- Hall of Impression this point is on the forehead between the eyebrows and not many people come to my clinic without having this point. It helps with anxiety and stress and is level to the pituitary gland in the brain. Find the point and as you touch the point with your finger apply firm pressure and massage in a circular motion for 5-10 mins.
- Spirit Gate is easy to access and is found on the inner wrist joint on the little finger side. It has a calming effect and aids sleep. It is also a fantastic point for shock. Roll your finger over a knobbley bone and into a depression and the bones boarder. Massage with your thumb firmly for 5mins.
- Great Surge this point is on the top of your foot between you big toe and second toe. Run your finger between the two from the toes towards the leg until your finger drops into the hollow before the intersection of the bones. Apply deep pressure and massage for a few seconds. It will start to feel uncomfortable and you can stop. This pressure point is effective if you are feeling frustrated or wound up. It is also good for headaches and period cramps.
THE NEXT TWO POINTS SHOULD BE AVOIDED IF YOU ARE PREGNANT OR THINK YOU MIGHT BE
- Shoulder Well is on the top of the shoulder in the muscle. It is half way between your spine and the end of you collar bone. To find it, pinch your shoulder muscle with your middle finger and thumb and find the tender spot. Pinch and release a few times. This point is especially good for relieving stress, tension and headaches.
- Union Valley is found in the webbing between your thumb and index finger on the top of your hand. Appy pressure with the other hand – take deep breaths and massage for a few seconds – also good for headaches and constipation
5. Walk in nature
I think this covers sound and sight – moving your Qi is always good for releasing tension. Received wisdom suggests that 20 minutes in nature could significantly reduce cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and research into ecotherapy (a type of formal treatment that involves doing activities in nature) has shown it can help with mild to moderate depression. Another research project proved that patients in hospital reduced their stress just by looking at a view of nature.