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What is Stress according to Chinese Medicine?

By Therese Poon

There are a few factors to consider and we would always need to do a definitive diagnosis before offering any treatments, but in a general sense... Stress is most often caused by ‘Liver Qi Stagnation’ in Chinese medicine terms.

What is Liver Qi Stagnation you ask? Well, firstly, when we say Liver we’re not talking about the organ. We’re more referring to the ‘Qi’ or energetics that the liver represents. For example, Liver Qi is related to the elements of creativity, decisiveness, growth, flexibility, and courage. When this energy is unbalanced or stagnant, it represents pathologically as; anxiety, frustrations, anger, lacking motivation, indecisiveness, feeling stunted or stagnant and lacking originality. These are also some of the common feelings one experiences when we use the word STRESS!
So what can we do about it? Well, here are some tips and techniques you might like to try. See if they help or support you in any way over the next few weeks and if you have any questions please feel free to get in touch with us about them.

Liver is supported by eating more sour foods and greens. So adding a bit of lemon juice to your steamed kale might just be the ticket. Another food that helps boost the liver is actually... ‘Liver’. So if you’re inclined to sample some fresh liver from the butchers it may be the boost your Liver Qi was looking for. Personally, I stick to the lemons, pickles, vinegars and dark green veggies.

Lifestyle adjustments
The liver is linked to the 11pm to 3am time of the day, so to support and nourish the liver energy it can be beneficial to sleep at those times if you can. The liver is also linked to the eyes, so reading or watching TV before bed is a bit of a strain on the eyes and should definitely be avoided at those times.

Qigong & Meditation
There are a number of Qigong and meditation practices that support the liver and Qi movement, but are very difficult to convey on paper. A simple technique you might like to try though is the gentle tapping on the outside of the legs. Try tapping using the palm of your hand along the sides of your legs. Gently at first, then with slightly more force, if you feel comfortable doing so. Do this for just a few minutes each morning or when feeling stressed and see if it offers some relief.

And finally, stretching!
The best place to stretch to release tension and stress on your liver Qi is the sides of the body. So just like they taught us in P.E. at school, standing feet together or slightly apart, hold one hand down the side of the body and lift the other up and over the head and stretch to the side as far as is comfortable to do so. Hold that position for about 30 to 60 seconds then back to standing and do the same for the other side. This stretch coupled with a slow and steady breath is a great way to release tension and promote Qi circulation.

Have a great month everyone, and let us know how you go!