Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa's Blog

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WHAT DOES STRESS DO TO US AND WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT STRESS? October 7, 2011

In our wellness practice we find long term chronic stress to be a major contributing factor to many health problems.  We find that up to 80% of the symptoms that patients initially present with are improved when stress is dealt with first.  We also find that the patient’s remaining symptoms become much easier to alleviate:  we see better digestion, less pain, less fatigue, better sleep, improved fertility, improved moods, and reductions to allergies when we deal with stress first.

How does stress affect us?

Stress initiates the “fight or flight” syndrome—our body energy goes to where it is needed for “fight or flight”: energy goes to the arms, legs, and short term mental functions.  Consequently our energy goes away from digestion, immune system and all of the body’s other “repair and restore” functions.  This has great survival value for short term “ fight or flight” type stresses; however, long term chronic stress is what most of our patients experience—rather than a short term “escape predator” situation, we experience days of unrelenting deadlines or other forms of work, relationship, or financial stresses.  In addition to impairing digestion, long term chronic stress has also been shown to raise blood pressure, stiffen arteries, suppress the immune system, and heighten the risk for conditions as diverse as diabetes and depression.  Worst of all, any of these health conditions can exacerbate our feeling of stress and set up a real downward spiral/negative feedback loop!

When stress is reduced, immune system function and digestion are automatically improved.  Good digestion in turn gives us the energy to heal. Also, we feel less stressed when we have more energy. This is why reducing stress results in improvements to so many other symptoms.

What are some specific symptoms that can accompany long term chronic stress?

  • Cognitive: memory problems, inability to concentrate, seeing only the negative, anxiety
  • Emotional: irritability, rapid mood swings, agitation, feeling overwhelmed, unhappiness or depression
  • Physical: aches and pains, digestive disturbances, rapid heartbeat, loss of libido, frequent illnesses, auto-immune disorders, high blood pressure
  • Behavioral: disturbed sleep, over or under eating, procrastination or neglecting responsibilities, substance abuse

 

What can be done about stress?

For our bodies to be in optimal health, there must be a balance between stress and relaxation.  We must manage our stress to keep ourselves in balance.  Stress management involves changing the stressful situations when possible, changing our reaction to the stressful situations when the situations can’t be changed, taking care of our health, and making time for rest and relaxation.

Common and effective stress reduction techniques include acupuncture, massage, moderate exercise, meditation, pleasant social interactions, and laughter.

One of the simplest and most profound ways to reduce stress and improve your health is with the practice of Long Deep Breathing.  I teach almost every patient this very simple technique and those who practice it benefit tremendously.   Long Deep Breathing is a wonderful relaxation technique and counteracts many of the negative effects of stress.

Long Deep Breathing is the simplest of all yogic breaths.  Simply inhale and exhale through the nose.  Fill the bottom of the lungs first, then the middle, then the top.  Hold the breath in for a second or two and then exhale:  top first, then middle, and then bottom.  You can do this breath while sitting on the floor, while sitting in a chair, or while lying down.  It is excellent to do before bed to help with sleep difficulties.

When we are stressed our breathing becomes short and shallow.  Likewise, when we are relaxed our breathing is naturally deeper and slower.  By cultivating the practice of Long Deep Breathing, we can induce a more relaxed state in our bodies.  It is when we are in this relaxed state that healing and rejuvenation of the body can take place.

Long Deep Breathing is easy to learn and easy to practice. Benefits come with very small amounts of practice.  Five minutes at a time is usually ample.  Five minutes, three times per day will have wonderful clinical effects.  In addition to a feeling of relaxation, there will be other effects such as lowered blood pressure, better ability to clear body toxins, and increase in energy levels.

Many of our patients have been able to reduce or eliminate their blood pressure medications simply from this practice of Long Deep Breathing.  If Long Deep Breathing could be packaged in pill form and patented by a pharmaceutical company, you would see it heavily advertised on TV!

There are of course many other stress reduction techniques as mentioned above, but none are as easy to do on your own or as always available as Long Deep Breathing.

I hope that these simple suggestions can help you reduce your stress.  Your personal situation or health condition may be very complicated, but by starting with stress reduction great improvements can be made to your health, happiness, and longevity.

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A poison ivy story October 2, 2011

Filed under: allergies,energy psychology — Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa @ 4:53 pm
Tags: , , ,

Last summer a patient came in to get treated for her severe poison ivy allergy.  She lived out in the country and often got extreme and lingering poison ivy reactions even from indirect exposures such as handling her children’s clothing.

She lived a few hours away and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to see her often enough to take her through our normal allergy elimination process.  I gave her one bioenergetic treatment for the poison ivy, and then taught her how to do EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).  EFT is an easily learned method of tapping the acupuncture points and it often works on physical as well as emotional symptoms.

She recently sent an e-mail, so I’ll let her speak for herself:

“I came to see you July 2010 asking to try treatment for responding to poison ivy.

I keep meaning to let you know that I did do the EFT for 2 weeks after the treatment and then went and brushed poison ivy on my arm. I covered
it for a day and watched it. I never got any reaction. Since then I have watched my kids go through poison ivy many times, knowing that I
would have to handle their clothes, take off their shoes…..etc. I myself have brushed up against it on trails with no reaction. I am
very glad about this outcome.”

We see allergy outcomes like this frequently; however it usually takes longer!

EFT is a branch of what is called Energy Psychology; psychologists discovered that they could clear a lot of emotional issues by simply tapping on acupuncture points while focusing on the problem.  Later the methods were applied to physical symptoms as well, often with equally good results.  EFT is similar in concept to much of the bioenergetic clearing work we do right in the office as part of our WholeHealth Wellness protocols:  Identify the imbalances, then use various energetic clearing methods to neutralize the problem.  We often teach the EFT techniques to patients as part of our normal course of treatment.

The highest form of medicine is teaching patients to take care of themselves!