Remedies For Stress

 Unlock Your Potential

By Claire Lipke, R. Ac, B.Sc. Kin, BCRPA Personal Trainer

For each of us from East to West, movement lifts up our spirits, keeps our bodies strong and maintains an important part of daily life.  Without it we feel sluggish, tired, heavy and lethargic. Our organ function slows down and becomes less efficient with an increased tendency to suffer from health concerns.  When we move we feel the difference and everything from our mood to our appearance illustrates a positive change. A great spectrum exists when it comes to motivation and feelings behind getting started.  For some of us it is a chore and for others just the thought of it creates excitement and euphoria with the majority of people falling somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.

Wherever you land on this spectrum I am here to get you excited about ideas, strategies and new feelings towards fitness by combining thoughts of Chinese medicine theory layered on top of Western exercise physiology.  

                                               Chinese energy therapy

Over 5000 years ago Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) arose from observing patterns in nature and in the human body.  The theory of TCM is quite extensive and elaborate but not to be disregarded.  One can learn and apply just the basics of the medicine and still seek rewards in health by doing so. One school of TCM is called 5 element.  The 5 elements are true forces that are within us and surround us.  With each element there is an associated season, emotion, sound, flavor and movement of energy.  It is extremely important for the maintenance of good health to move in harmony and resonate with these changes.  When we act in ways that go against these natural patterns we often offset the state of balance and become ill, feel tired or suffer from other changes of disharmony.

The winter season is considered to be from November 8th – February 3rd, the coldest portion of the year.  A time in Chinese Medicine to nurture warmth, maintain internal heat, rest and never to feel exhausted or depleted.  In our modern world we find it more difficult to tune into the inner workings and “listen to our bodies”.  

Remedies for Stress

We can gain the most health benefits, if we are able to weight train, do cardio intervals or attend yoga and pilates classes while keeping the signs and symptoms of our bodies in the forefront.  Watching for signs of exhaustion, poor blood circulation to extremities, catching frequent colds and waking up in the morning and still feeling tired.

Exercise in whatever form you enjoy most will allow a free flow of energy (Qi), moving stagnant emotions and feelings out of your body.  It will elevate your mood and aid in buffering off of seasonal affective disorder symptoms (SAD) or depression that are occasionally felt with the winter season and lack of sunlight and its associative Vitamin D3.  

Increasing the bodies resting metabolic rate and warming the internal temperature thought movement of blood and energy circulation is an excellent benefit of physical activity during the colder months of the year.  

It remains extremely important to choose activities and exercises that you like.  When you force your self to do something that you strongly dislike there is a great chance to create stagnant energy, suffer from poor moods as well as face greater difficulty making substantial fitness gains.

In the winter months TCM chooses to nourish the body with specific foods and certain cooking methods that will deeply heat the bodies core.  By doing this and avoiding other foods or preparation methods that may be too harsh to maintain the delicate balance of energy within our system. 

Some examples of nourishing and tonifying foods to build the energy in the cold winter season includes stimulating, carminative spices such as cinnamon, chai, chillie peppers and ginger.  Used with slower cooking methods such as baking, stewing, poaching, roasting and stir frying common meats and vegetables can offer nourishing and tonifying properties.

Foods and diets to avoid in the winter months are diets that consist mainly of raw and cold foods such as uncooked vegetables, sprouted seeds etc.  These are extremely healthy, but much better suited to warmer times in the year when it is appropriate to cleans toxins from our system.  Raw vegetables can still be consumed but in lesser quantities, using warming spices or pairing with soups, stews or other dishes that can add a counterbalance for internal warmth.

Movement allows each of us to unlock our potential, to allow energy to flow freely, to get that endorphin rush and to reap the physical and mental benefits that accompany this lifestyle.  Stand strong and tall with fitness as you lead your mind and body in the proper direction as you allow your body to thrive on the energy that fitness produces.

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