Social anxiety – how Chinese Medicine can help
Hopefully you’ve been finding your feet with our one-minute daily rituals. Don’t beat yourself up if you keep forgetting or simply run out of time in the morning – let’s face it, most of us only have a couple of minutes for a slick of lipstick and a dab of powder if we’re lucky. It’s all about getting used to doing the exercises in grabbed moments. Trust me, after a while you’ll just do them on auto pilot. You’ll have days when it just all seems like a bit too much effort; the trick is not to fret, just try and sneak them in elsewhere in your day when your energy is a bit stronger! But bear in mind that it’s a positive cycle. I know first-hand, though, that daily practice is key – it dislodges stagnation and gets blood and Qi flowing, which in itself gives you more energy.
I’m full of admiration for Jennifer Lawrence, who this week openly discussed her struggles with social anxiety. Gorgeous, funny and candid – what’s not to love? Anxiety is such a common problem, especially in our ‘selfie’ culture of endless scrutiny and impossible standards of perfection.
Chinese Medicine believes anxiety occurs due largely to imbalance in the heart. As an actor, Jennifer’s job is to connect to people and be seen so she uses a lot of heart energy (putting herself in other people’s shoes and recreating tense, adrenalin-filled situations) in her day-to-day existence. Add to that the pressure of constant scrutiny and it’s no surprise she’s anxious – her panic attacks are her body screaming ‘My heart is deficient!’
Frankly, the thought of endlessly having to look perfect gives me anxiety too. Luckily I can hide behind working from home when I’ve over-indulged until I’ve addressed the issue!
Statistics tell us that women are twice as likely to suffer anxiety disorders than men. And as we are more often than not experiencing social media hell, all of our heart energies are being impacted. Luckily, we have the answer for you – keep an eye out and become aware of what’s impacting your heart and apply heart-specific one-minute exercises.
Chinese Medicine works brilliantly for anxiety issues because it recognises that powerful interplay between the body and emotions; the two are, in fact, inseparable. When we become emotionally upset, our internal environment also becomes disrupted, leading to the physical symptoms of anxiety. So rather than throwing anti-depressants at the problem to mask the symptoms, we work from the inside out. If, like Jennifer, those moments when the room shrinks and your heart starts racing are all too familiar, have a look at our articles on stress, anxiety andPNI to understand why you get anxious and how to heal it for good.
There’s been a lot of news coverage recently on the dangers of an unhealthy lifestyle in middle age. With almost half of all 45 to 64 year olds living with an illness or disability in England, a new government campaign is warning the over- 40s to improve their habits in order to enjoy a healthy retirement.
This advice is totally in line with our thoughts and fits exactly with the principles of Chinese Medicine. We need to get the message out there that prevention really is better than cure. Yes, we’d agree with all the usual advice of quitting smoking and improving your diet but, more than that, we’d underline the importance of tackling stress before it has time to wreak havoc in your body. This is the period of grace. This point of prevention is exactly why we created these one-minute rituals. The Hayo’u Method is an integrated approach, and simply and effortlessly safeguards your health so that it’s not spend now, pay later. It’s prevent now and enjoy your life.
Aside from prevention being the first point of defence in the body, the Chinese approach to health and wellbeing is that mind and body should be treated as a whole. Until recently, this has not been the case in Western Medicine, but there is growing belief among scientists that our brains, nervous system, endocrine system and immune system are all linked. In plain English that means our mind, emotions and body are not separate but entwined (which makes perfect sense when you think about it). This field has the grand title of Psychoneuroimmunology, or the more digestible PNI for short.
Many PNI studies have focused on how stress, hostility and depression impact the immune system. It’s now known that when stress hormones surge through the body, the immune cells are hampered in their function. Many conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis and premature ageing are related to stress and negative emotions. When we get stressed and are unable to deal with it by putting our bodies into the parasympathetic (restful) phase, the stress hormones produce an excess of epinephrine. This causes a chemical breakdown which weakens our immune system and renders us susceptible to disease.
So whilst the advice to get more exercise is sound, it’s all about the type of fitness we should be doing. Pounding away in the gym can be counter-productive as it raises cortisol levels. Combine that with a high-stress week at the office and you could well be on your way to suffering adrenal fatigue. Instead, we’d advocate lots of relaxing walks in the fresh air and daily practice of Qi Gong or Tai Chi. Easy if you live in a leafy area and have time in your day – but even engaging with a window box as you walk to the car will do the trick! Combined with mindfulness and deep breathing, each step can release the tension and negativity in your body.
As you walk, exhale audibly through the mouth to expel stale breath from the lungs. Put that Fitbit to good use wherever possible and remember that you always have your One-Minute ritual to fall back on. Gentle exercise will still get the blood pumping but it will also put your nervous system into a relaxed state which is far more beneficial long term. Good news if you’re gym-phobic!
As always, let me know what you’d like to hear about. More next week!
Founder of Hayo’u