I ask myself these questions often; What are my triggers? Where is stress showing up in my body? What can I do at this moment to stop the cycle of stressing out even more?
Because ladies, your stress tells us a lot about what’s happening inside your body. Sometimes it is very subtle and other times it is so big and awful, you cannot ignore it! It’s a clear cry for help and for a re-examination of your daily life.
For me, it’s not having healthy boundaries with others, not communicating my own needs and skipping self-care. Wow, that’s pretty clear now but I can tell you, it’s been a long road with lots of lessons and many of them variations on the same pattern. I do too much with too little in my tank. When this happens, I don’t exercise enough, my body gets tense and physically stressed and where does it land for me?
I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome and get diarrhea. It’s sometimes the only way I know that I am stressed when I really am not listening to my body. Next, my neck and shoulders start to tense up and I either get headaches or cannot go back to sleep at night and have racing thoughts and yeah, you can ask my husband, I become so short-tempered and irritable that I just don’t have any patience for things—like at all.
When we talk about the intestines in general, we are talking about the spleen and liver in traditional Chinese medicine. When the spleen energy is not strong, the liver overacts or makes the situation worse because the energy gets tense and you become irritable. The spleen helps with digestion, transporting nutrients and clearing out the waste. It’s really the whole digestive system. From the emotional standpoint, the emotion of the spleen is worry.
So not communicating your thoughts, needs and desires to others let alone yourself, is a sure-fire way to upset the spleen and end up with a variety of digestive issues. This is your gut intuition and not listening to yourself literally causes disharmony in your immune system.
When you start to not voice what you need to others or feel anxious or worried, your Heart in TCM becomes involved. This is the part that causes you to stay awake and over think about everything.
The tension in the muscles that support the neck and shoulders are engaged in so many activities throughout the day in modern society. We drive, read our phones and type all the time. We have long hours at work and often relax reading, watching movies and more which adds to the strain these muscles undergo daily.
When we feel uncomfortable, we pull our shoulders up and protect ourselves from stressful situations. Then we can have pain, stiffness and range of motion issues. This tension is our bodies way of telling us that we are protecting ourselves from something or that we are working too hard and not taking time to release our muscles on a regular basis.
The neck and shoulders are also important in keeping us well and if our immunity goes down due to lack of sleep, poor diet choices-sweets, alcohol or too much caffeine, then we become more susceptible to germs and often the base of the skull and shoulders feel stiffness at the first sign of a cold/flu. This is the lung system, which is our skin, body hair, respiratory system-from the nose to the tips of our lungs. Our breathing my change and in turn we won’t be able to inhale as fully.
If you can identify what areas need attention within you, then you can create a plan to create care specifically targeted to improve your body. When you do this, you will feel a great impact on your daily life.
Well, ladies, it starts with listening to what your body is telling you, creating a plan to work on the organ systems most affected by stress and creating self-care rituals and time to do this regularly.
Here is a chart of the 5 elements or organ systems and the symptoms associated with them. I have also added in easy, quick and effective foods, teas and essential oils to help strengthen each system. Enjoy!
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