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Stress and Immunity

by Anne Gordon

Stress and ImmunityStress and Immunity, Atha Wellness in Kirkland, WA

Goodness, it would be an understatement to say that these have been a stressful few weeks.  I am not going to “describe the water” here, but I’m sure many of you have been feeling the uncertainty of this unique time. We know that increased levels of stress increase susceptibility to viral infections, so how do we de-stress? If you’re anything like me, being told to “relax” just isn’t that helpful.  What do we do when the things that we usually do to relieve stress either aren’t available to us or just plain aren’t working? 

This might be the time to double down on meditation. I use the 10% Happier App and recommend it to many of my patients.  There is a free downloadable version, as well as a paid yearly subscription option.  I’ve recently been working with Jay Michaelson’s meditation using the Serenity Prayer, and it has helped ease the ”elephant sitting on my chest” feeling. 

Yoga and exercise are also wonderful ways to get out of your head and in tune with your body and breath.  Thankfully many studios like Bala Yoga have started offering on-line yoga class options so that we can stay connected to our practice and to our community.  Bonus points if you get outside at least once a day for a walk.  Getting outside and into nature is a natural de-stressor.

Get creative!  Draw, paint, cook, garden.  When we fully immerse ourselves in creative tasks, we can enter a “flow state”, a state where action and awareness merge in an optimal state of consciousness.  For example, during this extended "spring break", my youngest daughter has dusted off her calligraphy set and joins us at our dining room work table while we do our normal 9 to 5.  The act of sharing space together and doing something that engages her creativity seems to bring her comfort and ease.  Also, its a lot of fun!

Or try stimulating this acupuncture point with acupressure:

Ren-17:  Find this point in the center of the breastbone (sternum), level with the 4th intercostalspace.  (hint hint:  the nipples usually lie in the 4th intercostal space in men)  This point is found in a small notch in the breastbone and is usually tender upon palpation. 

Ren-17 is a powerful point for heart health in Chinese Medicine, and is an excellent point for releasing anxiety and fear.  To stimulate the point, softly press with one finger or try making small circles for 3-5 minutes.  If you have a calming essential oil, like lavender oil, you may consider applying it to your palms, rubbing your hands together and then breathing in the relaxing scent.  Once you’ve done this, then apply the oil to the point and stimulate it, as described above.  Taking deep, full breaths helps to move and release any stuck energy.  Once you are done, lay your open palm over the point and rest for as long as feels comfortable.  End by gently pressing your ears between your thumb and index fingers for a few minutes, stimulating the vagus nerve and increasing feelings of calm and well-being. 

Hope you find these stress-relieving, immune boosting tips helpful and can add them to your self-care tool kit. 

Yours in health,

Anne Gordon, L.Ac/EAMP

Kirkland, Wa