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Dr. MAO’s WELLNESS CENTRAL: Managing Stress During Tough Times

I wrote about stress just a few weeks ago and yet recently I have noticed increasingly people seem ever more stressed.  With constant news headlines all around us announcing unpleasant and unsettling news about our economy, joblessness and homeland security, a lot of us have been suffering the twist of anxiety.  Each time this stress response comes, the neurochemicals in our brain are thrown off balance.

Sustained periods of stress will affect your brain, leading to chemical imbalance. It will interfere with your memory, focus and concentration, making you feel agitated and unable to calm down. It is crucial for brain health and overall peace of mind that you learn to control your anxiety effectively.  Read on to learn more ways to quell your anxiety and relax. As always, if you are undergoing serious anxiety, consult a healthcare professional.

 1. Try the Nutrient GABA  

A healthy brain needs a balance between neural chemicals that excite the nerves and those that calm the nerves. GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) is the primary neural transmitter for calming the transmission of nerve signals. It can help prevent anxiety-related messages from reaching the brain. Having levels of GABA that are too low can increase anxiety, insomnia, irritability, and depression. My suggestion is to eat a diet rich in GABA including fish, especially mackerel and wheat bran or to take 250-500 milligrams on a daily basis, along with vitamin B6.

 2. Health in Mind Equals Health in Body

The average person has 40-60,000 thoughts a day, and nearly 80 percent of them are negative. Imagine what this is doing to your body! This negativity affects your thought patterns and behaviors subconsciously, and this has an unhealthy impact on your body. Reframe the way you say things to yourself. You can actually change the response to anxiety with repeated affirmations, which will introduce a new positive pattern behavior in your thinking. Instead of being anxious, give empowering messages to yourself: I am strong, I am grateful, I can get through this. Repeat these positive affirmations throughout your day to transform the stress and change your attitude.

 3. Herbal Help for Anxiety  

Valerian, sometimes called “nature’s tranquilizer, is used to regulate the nervous system and relieve tension, irritability, nervous exhaustion and stress, and anxiety for centuries. As a sedative, valerian is non-addictive and relieves sleeplessness without the morning-after grogginess often associated with prescription sleep medications. Polygala has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine to calm the mind and the senses.  It soothes the nerves and takes the edge off anxiety. Take these herbs anytime during the day when you feel stressed and before bed in tea or capsule form. Many of my patients have had remarkable results with Calm-Fort, an all-natural formulation of herbs to calm your spirit. For more information, go to www.taostar.com

 4. Balance Your Nervous System with Acupuncture  

When we experience trauma or heightened tension, the stress response in our body activates the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) that causes the balance to shift to sympathetic dominance or the fight-or-flight state.  This is akin to a cat that is cornered with its shoulders and legs raised up high ready to fight for its life.  If you stay in the state of sympathetic overdrive for long your will surely develop high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease and host of other health problems.  Studies show that acupuncture can restore balance to the ANS quickly by increasing parasympathetic dominance, which is the safety and calm state that is the opposite of the survival mode.

 5. Get Out of Your Head By Helping Others  

Most of us could sit around all day agonizing in our heads about bad news and working our way into a negative inner dialogue. The way to get out of your own head is by doing something for others. Offer to help someone else and completely focus on his or her needs. Give a friend a hand with moving or planning an event. Volunteer for a charitable cause. It’s amazing how taking the focus off yourself can reduce your stress and anxiety.

These are tried and true ways to reduce your stress and tension and help you not merely to survive the tough times, but to thrive in any environment with good health and happiness.  May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

 Dr. Mao Shing Ni, also known as Dr. Mao, is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert.  He practices acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica, a Wellness Medicine group that was awarded “L.A.’s Best” by Los Angeles Magazine. Tao of Wellness was founded by Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni over 25 years ago.  In addition, he is the cofounder and Chancellor of Yo San University in Venice/Marina del Rey.  To subscribe to a free newsletter please visit www.taoofwellness.com   To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at contact@taoofwellness.com

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