How To Cope With Anxiety Over Christmas

Festive Anxiety

It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but for at least a third of Brits the festive season can be tarred with high levels of stress and anxiety. It’s not just the stress of Christmas shopping and higher workloads that stresses people out, it’s also social anxiety over the endless festive get-togethers and parties. Read More…

Breathe Yourself Slim

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Most of us don’t breathe the right way.  In fact, we use at most 20% of our lung capacity.  But research from Harvard credits breath work to lift depression, relieve stress and anecdotal evidence suggests you can lose weight, perhaps connecting with our breath is more powerful than we had first thought?

“Breath is quite literally life,” says Alan Dolan, Global Breath Expert, “When you breathe better, you live better.” When the breath is out of kilter – shallow and disconnected – your body automatically holds this as stress and tension. But get the breath right and you start flooding cells with oxygen and energy and the body begins to heal, recalibrate and release the toxins responsible for holding weight. Read More…

Could Tapping Reduce Your Stress Levels?

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We all have those moments when everything mounts up. For some it lasts for mere moments, for others it can go on for days or weeks. It could be a mammoth project at work, a renovation at home, or an amalgamation of overwhelming things. Even the toughest, most mentally and emotionally stable people waver on occasions. A tightness in your chest that takes more than a couple of deep breaths to loosen or a racing mind keeping you up until 3 am.

There are around three million people in the UK who suffer with anxiety disorders. While there are prescription medication that can ease anxiety, there are also plenty of natural remedies that don’t have any known side effects. Magnolia Rhodiola Complex, £26, is the one that Shabir recommends time and time again as the blend of herbs not only helps you to relax, but also makes your body more resilient to stress.

Over the past year or so, another technique has been receiving a fair amount of attention, tapping.

What is tapping?

Tapping, or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), is essentially like acupuncture but without the needles. Instead, you use your fingertips to tap on the meridian pressure points outlined in Chinese medicine to help release blockages of energy.

While tapping is heavily influenced by traditional Chinese medicine techniques, it wasn’t invented until the 90s by a man called Gary Craig. Since then some practitioners have suggested that the technique can help ease phobias, chronic pain and addictions, as well as help reduce anxiety and stress levels by lowering your cortisol levels.

So, how do you ‘tap’?

Not everyone is going to feel comfortable about tapping various parts of their body in public, but there are a couple of options that can be done discreetly on a crowded bus. It’s also surprisingly easy to mentally get into it. Unlike meditation where you’re encouraged to focus on blank space, when it comes to tapping you hone in on the issue at hand and target the negative emotion or stress. At the same time you tap up to seven times on the key meridian points.

If you’re not au fait with Chinese medicine, the key points to ease stress are found on the side of your hand; the inner section of your eyebrows; to the side and below your eye socket; underneath your nose; on the crease between your lip and chin; your collar bone; just below your armpit; and the top of your head. If you want to follow a specific routine, it’s worth looking up The Tapping Solution, which offers short video tutorials and help finding tapping experts near you.

What are the alternatives?

For those who still remain unconvinced about tapping parts of their body, there are plenty of other methods to relieve moments of stress and anxiety. Breathing properly sounds very straightforward, but most of us don’t do it correctly. The result is higher stress levels and poor posture.

Getting enough sleep is obvious, but if you’re stressed out it’s likely that you struggle to drift off too. A lot of experts recommend partaking in at least two hours of good cardio exercise each week and avoiding eating at least two hours before bed.

There’s also some research to suggest that setting out a structured sleep routine can help. It might sound ridiculously simple, but when you think about it, do you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day? If you need a little extra help, Shabir recommends Sleep Tight, £25.50. It goes without saying that combining it with some light tapping could be just the ticket to help you drift off…

Doing Too Much?

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At a yoga training course in London recently, the world-famous teacher mentioned in passing that her Ayurvedic Doctor is treating more patients with what’s known in the ancient Indian system of medicine as Vata imbalance. In Ayurveda, it’s believed we have three groups of personality traits which bring with them different sets of health tendencies. Put simply, when we’re in balance, all three work in harmony – when we’re not, we develop a ‘dominant’ dosha which may make us prone to illness.

Vata is the quick thinking, fast moving, chattery and creative side of us when balanced, becoming highly anxious, frazzled and worried when not. This rings bells in our 24/7 society – who these days isn’t frantically busy? And no doubt technology is contributing to this via constant stream of information via 24 hour news channels, Twitter and email on a social and work level, giving us that ‘switched on’ feeling. We get hooked on it. After all, who gets Brownie points for going home early, having holidays or taking a lunch hour.

This wired state is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system – the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism which keeps us on our toes, and ready for action through the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These are known as the stress hormones for good reason, as they are diverting our bodily functions into a state of alert – many things happen including a raise in heart rate, diversion of blood away from the digestive system. Of course, we need this in times of real danger, say, if we’re in a near miss in the car, or to meet an important deadline. The problem is, we’re more often in a false state of alert which begins to take its toll on our bodies. Read More…

Free Your Breath

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Through all the years I’ve been trying to stay healthy by eating well, exercising, taking vitamins, attempting to meditate, it’s only now I really understand that breathing properly is the simplest trick most of us miss in the equation. We can be forgiven of course, as it’s something we all do automatically – approximately 12-18 times a minute of every day. We don’t have to give it a second thought, and quite frankly, who needs ‘learn to breathe’ added to our endless to-do lists. But doing exactly that has made huge changes in the way I feel and look. I can relax more deeply, sleep better, meditate for longer, my digestion functions a whole lot better, I feel taller, lighter (a bonus when running) and I even detect more colour in my skin which others have noticed.

It’s work in progress though – as I sit here in front of my laptop writing this, I know I’m not breathing properly. Modern life – poring over iPads, driving, toting designer handbags, sitting in front of the TV and computer – all conspire to make us lean forwards, hunching our shoulders over and collapsing into our diaphragm, the major muscle which drives our breath. There’s often a sub-conscious emotional element to this too – if we’re hurt, grieving or broken hearted, our instinct is to curl over for comfort – the same goes when we feel threatened. The upshot is, we end up with with constricted breathing, air only going to our chests, using a fraction of our natural lung capacity. We feel anxious and tired rather than full of life. Read More…