Simple Tools for de-Stressing
By Bec Jimenez, L.Ac.
These days, most of us have some kind of level of anxiety. This is a natural part of what we are going through—we are all feeling a tremendous amount of uncertainty. We must develop tools to decompress and self-soothe, but I want you to know that it’s OK to not feel OK. Nothing is normal, and we worry about our health, money, and our future. Our lives feel disconnected, lonely, and challenging.
In my practice, I focus on helping my patients manage stress to sleep more deeply. This is needed now more than ever. At Six Fishes, I teach my patients about sleep and how it is an integral part of maintaining health.
The stress you’re experiencing activates your fight or flight response. When that happens, adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones) are released so that your body knows to MOVE! Seek safety! However, during times like these, our primitive body thinks we are in constant stress. So naturally, we will continue to produce and release more cortisol. Unchecked, these elevated hormones can result in high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
Having too much cortisol in the body can also disrupt your sleep, which in turn, compromises immunity. High cortisol levels are also linked to anxiety and depression.
In Chinese Medicine, the spirit, or Shen, is said to reside in the Heart. At night, the shen returns to the Heart to allow us to rest. A sign of balanced shen is the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Poor sleep can injure the shen and vice versa: an upset spirit interferes with sleep.
Restlessness, fatigue, dream disturbed sleep, and the inability to concentrate are all grouped here. Traumatic loss and grief affect the energy of the lungs- literally knocking the wind out of us.
I have been encouraging my patients to use this time to reevaluate how we nourish our heart spirit. It’s important to know that upset affects the Shen. Traumatic global events impact our individual as well as the collective shen of our families, communities, and the world. It’s no wonder that there’s been an uptick of calls to suicide prevention hotlines.
Before the pandemic, I would routinely invite my patients to engage in self-reflection techniques like a guided meditation. Guided meditations have a magic ability to quiet our monkey minds, allowing us to be present with ourselves. By checking in with your physical bodies, you can hear its messages. Try to listen. You may find you’ll find that your shen will begin to heal, and sleep and anxiety are naturally eased.
I want to share a few tips and tricks for you that will help you to do just that: listen to your body, to find ease.
Stay off of clickbait.
You’re going to have to exercise self-control for this one. The news is relentless and heartbreaking. Only use specific websites such as CDC.GOV to get your information. Otherwise, it’s just going to make your cortisol levels rise.
Right now, they are offering free meditations, sleep, and movement exercises to help you feel more relaxed during this unprecedented time.
Focus on what you can control:
We can promote health by eating with the seasons. It’s time to switch to springtime greens and herbs. Green onions, cilantro, dill, chives, basil, and mint are all great spring herbs that can be incorporated into your recipes for a fresh pop of flavor and nutritional boost. Herbs are filled with polyphenols, which are plant compounds that have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Have a wind-down routine! Take a warm bath or shower at night, limit blue screen time. Make a cup of chamomile mixed with mint as a wind-down beverage to relax tired muscles and a tired mind and do a headspace sleep meditation Dreamcast session. You’ll wake up in the morning ready to take on the day!
Facetime dinner dates
Call a friend, facetime / share a tele-meal together. Enjoy a happy hour. It’s a safe and effective way to stay in contact while sharing a sweet moment together.
4-7-8 breathing technique to ground and check in with the shen
• breathe in through the nose for the count of 4
• hold the breath for a count of hold for 7 counts
• exhale through the mouth for the count of 8
• Repeat 3 times and do it twice daily.
This simple breathing method relaxes the sympathetic nervous system, which goes into overdrive when we are stressed. Even just one cycle of this technique can relax you. Anyone can do it- even if you think you can’t meditate.
Here’s a list of my favorite supplements to support restorative sleep:
I love this product! It helps me fall asleep and wake up feeling refreshed.
-Too much cortisol might make it difficult to fall asleep or can result in waking early.
-The night following disturbed sleep will result in increased cortisol production, which can result in a cycle of sleep disruption. This product helps break that sleep cycle disruption so that you can fall asleep smoothly.
Promotes relaxation before sleep by incorporating magnesium, an essential mineral, in muscle relaxation.
L-theanine helps with the release of alpha brain waves, which are present during REM sleep.
This product also contains theracurmin, which has been shown to aid in healthy immune function, cardiovascular function, and can decrease systemic inflammation.
While cortisol manager helps you establish healthy sleep cycles, this product aids with sleeping throughout the night.
By now, most people have at least heard of CBD, if not used it. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring, non-psychoactive compound found in the hemp plant. It works by engaging specific receptors in your body (called the endocannabinoid system), which is responsible for moderating mood, memory, motor function as well as the perception of pain and stress.
CBD interacts with the body to reduce pain and inflammation and also the brain, to help alleviate anxiety and insomnia.
When pain is addressed, the body can relax with ease. When the body is at ease, anxiety, and sleeplessness decrease.
At Six Fishes, we use high-quality products from Elixinol. They have a full spectrum product that has all the beneficial chemical compounds known to reduce pain, anxiety, and sleeplessness. CBD has also been shown to aid deeper levels of REM sleep, leading to an undisturbed night’s rest.
As with all supplements, it’s essential to figure out the right dosage for your own personal needs. At Six Fishes, we are trained to help you find the best dosage for you so you can lead a less stressed, more calm, centered life.
About Bec Jimenez,
Bec believes that to truly heal, you must treat and honor the body, mind, and spirit. When all three aspects of the person are addressed, full health and wellness can be obtained.
She is a graduate of the Won Institute in Glenside, PA, where she earned her Masters’ degree in Acupuncture.
Bec specializes in treating reproductive health issues, specifically PCOS, PMDD, and infertility.