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A person may suffer from either physical or psychological stress.  Stress occurs when physiological changes occur in the body due to the trauma of physical stress such as an accident causing injury to body tissues or bad lifestyle habits which can do the same thing such as from an incorrect diet of food containing hormones, pesticides, additives, or  breathing in  polluted air.  Psychological stress is caused when a person feels unable to cope with a situation presented to them, such as financial problems, work overload or relationship difficulties.

If we compare the stress endured by a dam wall and the stress we cope with daily there are some similarities in that the cement used to build the wall has to be specially formulated in relation to the sand to concrete ratio to create the optimum strength it requires in order to contain the water pressure. It has to be able to handle such things as extremes of temperature in either winter or summer as well as having water gates to allow water to pass through in order to regulate the dam pressure. 

In our bodies we also need to use the right building materials to create a strong structure, just as the dam wall will slowly get a fault, crack and collapse if the incorrect building mixture is used, or pressure is allowed to build up unabated, so will our bodies slowly become deficient if  they aren’t provided with the right nurturance or if we don’t have a release mechanism for the build up of stress.

The physiological changes that occur in the body during the stress process are an increase in adrenal hormone activity, a rise in blood glucose, an increase in blood glycerol and fatty acids, an increase in heart rate, an increase in breathing rate, a rise in blood pressure, dilation of air passages, movement of blood from skin and digestive organs to skeletal muscles.  Due to these physiological changes if stress is not relieved chronic problems may develop such as diabetes, fatty/lactic acid build-up such as cholesterol, toxin build-up, crystals in feet, spurs in bones, pH levels become imbalanced, blood pressure imbalances, sleeping disturbances, eating disturbances, digestive problems, tension build –up and depression.  Collectively this creates a reduced resistance to illness, organs and systems start to fail, the physical disease process begins and the ageing process is accelerated.

In relation to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine,  each person must take responsibility for their health. To avoid and reduce the effects of stress, harmony has to be created between all the elements, meridian systems and organs in the body. This is achieved by providing the body with the correct nurturance which in turn creates the proper  flow of chi  energy and methods of chi release.  When these are balanced the body, mind and spirit  will be in health and equilibrium.

Things to do to build a physically healthy, stress free body:

~ diet consisting mainly of fresh, and organic foods. In order to avoid the build up of toxins and body acids caused by pesticides, anti-bacterials, hormones, and food additives.

~ To avoid acid producing behaviours such as excessive alcohol/coffee/tea use, smoking, taking unnecessary medications, and eating too much meat, sugary foods and cereals.

~ To absorb sun energy and fresh air (deep breathing) daily which creates good chi

~ To exercise at least 30 minutes 4 times a week also creates a flow of harmonious chi, improves blood circulation, endocrine system, lymph system and thus cleansing, and is good for strengthening bone and muscle structures.

~ To drink sufficient pure liquids (fresh juices of fruit/vegetables, herb teas, filtered water) necessary for the transport of nutrients, oxygen and wastes.

~ To cleanse the body from time to time (at least every two months) to release a build up of toxins, such as a two day vegetable fast eating nothing but fresh vegetables such as in liquidized juice form, as soups, salads, lightly steamed or dry stir fried.

Things to do to avoid and release psychological stresses:

~ Getting to know yourself - your weaknesses and limits and accepting them rather than worrying about them e.g always late – need to work on time management, overeat – need to develop eating plan. Don’t worry or stress take physical action and do something positive.

~ Create Positive thinking and Attitude. What you send out is what you receive i.e. you send out good energy to others, compliments, kindness, favours, generosity, this is the reality you create for yourself and what you will receive in return – increased energy levels.  You will build up your body’s positive energy ratio, just the same as when you are intolerant, nasty, judgemental you deplete your body’s energy ratio and thus create illness.12

~ Time Management, Planning, Organisation Learn to prioritise make time for work, sleep, family, friends, exercise, spiritual activities and hobbies.  Plan activities other than work for a fulfilled life.

~ Make time for relaxation.  It should be a deeper process than reading a book, such as simply listening to relaxing music, meditating, doing yoga, or being at one with nature, doing a relaxing hobby such as gardening or pottery where you become one with your subject.

~ Balance left and right brain activities If you spend your day doing calculated and logical behaviours do a hobby that requires right brain – creative activities such as painting, sewing, writing poetry or if you spend your day doing creative work such as dancing, creative director, doing more logical activities such as crossword puzzles, or budget planning.

~ Tolerance, Flexibility and Adaptability.  Don’t impose your view, acceptance makes it easier to move through something and make changes.  It’s not important to always “be right”.  “A stick that bends is stronger than one that cannot and snaps”, be tolerant and flexible towards yourself and others.

~ Incorporate Enthusiasm and Humour into your life.  Joie de Vivre (joy of life) is an attitude, smile often, have fun, take things lightly, watch a comedy series or film occasionally, or read humourous authors such as Oscar Wilde.

~ Incorporate Spiritual Nourishment and Growth Whether its reading an enlightening book, going to a spiritual gathering to share ideas, or taking time to contemplate conscious living.

An animal has a stress reaction when another animal of prey is hunting it for food, it runs to get away and at the same time uses up the physiological changes that have occurred in its body and once the hunt is over the animal is as it was before – in a stress free state.  As humans have evolved we are no longer running away physically from a problem and thus have to use the various methods of coping with stress mentioned here in order to create and return to a stress free state.

References:  
11.       ISRMT Lecture notes taken down in 2002

12.       Anatomy of the Spirit, Carolyn Myss, ISBN 0-


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