We can’t get away from stress and avoiding stress altogether can lead to a stifled life, but we can manage stress so that it doesn’t take over our health and well-being. In the ocean of stress management advice out there, I’d like to offer you a life raft made of ways to manage your stress based on the energy principles of traditional Asian medicine.
What Does Stress Mean for My Energy?
Stress stops up our energy flow and turns it upside down. Ideally, the natural energy that animates our bodies flows through our energy system softly and smoothly. When we’re stressed though, our bodies tense, our breathing becomes shallow, and we tend to think a lot. We especially feel tense in our neck, shoulders, chest, and abdomen.
This tension is reflected in our energy flow. Ideally, we have what’s called Water Up, Fire Down energy flow: warm “fire” energy flows down the front of our body (Conception Vessel meridian/energy channel) and cool “water” energy flows up the back of our body (Governing Vessel meridian/energy channel). But the tension in our chest keeps the fire energy from going down and the water energy from going up. Instead, the fire energy goes up, pooling in our head, making us think even more and leaving us unfocused.
In this state of mind, it’s harder to deal with stressful situations, compounding the problem. Our tendency to ruminate when we are faced with stressful issues, especially ongoing issues, also adds fuel to the fire in our heads. We become easy to anger or upset, or “hot-headed.”
A lot of stress and thinking also weakens the powerful energy center in our lower abdomen. This energy center, found between our hips, keeps the cycle of Water Up, Fire Down moving. It helps pull down fire energy and push up water energy. Especially if we’re sedentary or don’t eat and sleep well, this center lacks enough energy to do its job. As a result, the inside and outside of our abdomen becomes cold and stiff, both physically and energetically. Without the proverbial “fire in our belly,” it’s hard to have the motivation, willpower, and energy to handle our stress.
Stress Management Energy Exercises
Managing stress involves both relieving current stress and making yourself resilient to future stress. You can do this by changing your energy state to a Water Up, Fire Down state with a strong lower energy center. With strong, flowing, clear energy, you can relax into stressful situations and clearly see your way through them.
- Relax and open your chest
Exercise 1: Use your fingertips or fist to tap along the midline of the front of your body from your collar bone to belly button. Tap in a steady rhythm, while you inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Close your eyes and relax into the rhythm as you feel the vibrations in your body.
Exercise 2: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with feet parallel to each other. Bend your knees slightly and raise your arms to shoulder height with your elbows bent 90 degrees. Twist your waist from side to side while looking ahead, keeping your upper arms in one line from elbow to elbow. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth as you twist. Focus on the feeling of your torso twisting.
- Strengthen your lower energy center
Exercise 1: With your feet shoulder-width apart and parallel to each other, bend your knees slightly and use the pinky side of your fists to tap two inches below your navel. Alternate your hands. Relax into the vibration as you inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Focusing your mind on your lower abdomen will help add more energy to the energy center since energy concentrates wherever the mind does.
Exercise 2: Keeping the same posture with your legs, straighten your spine and make a circle with your arms in front of your chest with your shoulders relaxed, elbows slightly down, palms toward your torso, and fingertips pointed toward each other about one hand-length apart. Close your eyes and mouth as you hold this posture for two to five minutes (or more). Concentrate on your lower abdomen to gather energy there.
- Release the fire from your head
Exercise 1: Use the tips of your fingers to tap all around your head, face, and neck while exhaling out your mouth. Tap with a steady rhythm as you focus on the vibrations. Do this for one to two minutes, tapping longer on more tense or painful areas.
Exercise 2: Using your thumb, pointer finger, or a blunt tool, press around your head to locate painful spots. On the painful spots you find, press and rub in a tight circular motion for a minute or until the pain goes away (BHP Energy Healing).
These simple exercises can be done whenever you feel stressed, as well as on a daily basis to help you be resilient to stress. You can do all of the exercises, or pick one to three that work best for you. Use them before bed to take off the day’s tension and sleep more soundly.
Rather than stress looming large in your life, draining you of energy and motivation, think of stress as an upside down energy state you can easily turn around anytime.
To learn more about how stress affects your energy and for more energy changing exercise routines, check out my new book, Water Up Fire Down: An Energy Principle for Creating Calmness, Clarity, and a Lifetime of Health.
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- The Three Reasons for Breathing
- Vibrate Yourself to Life
- Brain Food
- How Are You Walking Today?