Anxiety due to stress is killing all of us in plain sight, and most of us don’t even know it. Americans are dying in middle age at a rapidly increasing pace. The Number 1 reason is the perception of a loss of control – especially in relation to money.

We are facing a stress epidemic. Stress affects up to 83 percent of the workforce in the U.S. It is known as “the Silent Killer” because if unchecked it causes systemic inflammation, the underlying cause of heart disease, cancer, lung disease, autoimmune and fertility problems.

Being stressed for long periods of time causes excess cortisol – the fight-or-flight hormone leading to increased blood pressure and blood sugar.

We are the Most Stressed Generation Ever

This has a number of causes – a lack of preparation for the challenges of “real life”, high expectations for success, and the birth of the gig economy – creating a perfect storm of stress around money, work and relationships. In our culture, there is no place for failure, only achievement and winning are celebrated. The stress tends to get buried under a busy work schedule. In the gig economy, fueled by entrepeneurial hustle, there is little or no health insurance, and always-on 24/7 working habits have become the norm.

We Wear Our Stress Like a Badge of Honor

We postpone doing something about our rocketing stress levels until a later date, when we start to get some serious signs that all is not well. Many people don’t realize that anxiety is the manifestation of their underlying stress.

Is Stress Holding You Back From the Life You Dreamed of?

  • Are you experiencing backaches or headaches?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed and have difficulty making decisions and plans?
  • Do you have difficulty getting things done or finishing your projects?
  • Do you feel that you are aging faster than you should? Do you have excess wrinkles?
  • Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?
  • Do you feel profoundly depressed or anxious or overwhelmed?
  • Do you find yourself catching colds or other infections easily? Could your immune system be malfunctioning?

Marsha’s Story

One of our patients, Marsha (name changed to protect privacy), came to me with at a time when she was feeling a high level of anxiety. Work related stress had caused acute pain in her shoulders and neck, and the pain was affecting her ability to sleep well and experience a good night’s rest. This left her exhausted during the day with panic attacks and difficulty thinking clearly. The more stressed she became, the more she was unable to cope with the demands of work and raising a young son – and the pain in her shoulders got worse.

My first step with Marsha was to explain how the pain in her shoulders was connected with the stress in her life. We made lifestyle changes including improving her nutrition and introducing stress reduction exercises. The most important part of the protocol though was regular acupuncture treatments. These eliminated the pain and reset her autonomic nervous system so that she was able to sleep peacefully.

A lack of sleep, which is common in anxiety disorders, may play an important role in lighting up brain regions that relate to excessive worrying. This leads to a vicious cycle of insomnia, leading to excessive worry, leading to anxiety and panic attacks. 

Stress also causes damage to the grey matter in the areas of the brain responsible for self-control. Experiencing and not transforming stress also makes it more difficult to deal with future stress because it reduces your ability to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Chronic stress can also shrink the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory, leading to “foggy brain” syndrome and poor memory.

Stress Accelerates Entropy and Premature Aging

Entropy is a scientific principle describing a “gradual decline into disorder” within a system. Stress accelerates the effects of entropy in our bodies, leading to premature aging and ultimately, death.

In today’s fast paced life we are not integrated, we are scattered. We jump from one shiny object to the next, from the guru promising us enlightenment the to the latest growth hack productivity course, always looking outside of ourselves, never quite finding the missing link of peace and the deep sense of purpose we so desperately crave.

This feeling of separation from the source of goodness in life blocks the flow of Qi or life force through our bodies. Mental, emotional and physical stress leads to premature aging and stagnation. The blocked energy manifests as tension in our bodies – stiff shoulders and neck, sore back as well as emotional irritation, nameless anxiety and insomnia.

The tension goes deep into our body, into our tendons and bones. Like an armour, self-protection distorts our muscles. The tension becomes arthritis and emotional pain. We become addicted to pain killers. In the U.S. there are 46 deaths from a prescription overdose per day.

Life Force, the natural organizing energy that animates our lives, is always trying to break through these rigid structures in our bodies and minds.

It calls us to make the connection between our resistance and our physical aches and pain. Pain is our body’s and unconscious mind’s way of trying to get us to look at our life and the choices that we make. Pain is a message showing us that we are not in harmony with the flow of life or with our life purpose.

Stagnancy can manifest not just in our bodies and energy flows, but in our minds. We become stuck in rigid patterns. We become addicted to our beliefs and patterns.

This leaves us with poor survival skills. We live in  a super-fast changing world. Automation will be replacing many jobs. The ability to turn on a dime, to handle change in a graceful and resourceful way is essential. The future of jobs will require the ability to learn new skills and let go of old ideas.

Our restricted thoughts and habitual patterns leave us unable to deal with the changes that life throws at us. Challenge  is what makes us feel alive. We need to learn how to handle stress and anxiety in a useful away.

The “Stress Theory of Aging” proposes that humans who have superior ability to handle various forms of stress live significantly longer than those who handle stress less effectively. The ability to mount an effective response to environmental and cellular stressors plays an important role in determining health, longevity and the onset and progression of disease and aging. Being able to “go with the flow” is a vital key to attaining radiant health and a long life.

We Are Meant to Do More Than Just Survive

We Are Meant to Thrive!

In ancient China this meant to live in harmony with the Tao (the absolute principle underlying the universe). To be truly happy and healthy we must live in harmony with ourselves, our planet, our understanding of the spiritual laws of the universe, and one another.

The roots of Chinese medicine go back to the Taoist Adepts who were martial artists and master herbalists. The purpose of martial arts was to train a warrior’s mind and body. As well as physical fitness and a warrior’s mind set, their chief focus was longevity and immortality. They understood that a subtle energy known as life force, Qi or prana, helped connect us to a higher state of consciousness and our True Self.

They developed meditation and movement exercises known as Qiqong in order to strengthen the flow of this life force throughout the body. Many of the great yogis such as Ramakrishna also developed yoga poses to increase the kundalini so that it would flow uninterrupted throughout the body.

Developing this flow of life force throughout our body is a way of accelerating our spiritual growth and change in consciousness. We see life from a higher perspective, we are more aligned with the flow of life force, and we are more able to “go with the flow”. Early Taoist adepts understood that man stood between Heaven and Earth, and that he had a a divine purpose to fulfill.

When our life force is strong we are able to respond easily to stress and the challenges of life. Other people or the environment can’t drain our energy, and our immune system is strong. We are clear on our purpose and confident in our ability to make it happen.

In Modern Science This is Known as The Flow State

Our life force energy flows unobstructed throughout our body. There’s a level of focus and clarity, a sense of purpose, where we feel fully present in the moment. We have full access to our creativity and our intuition, insights come out of left field and we seem to have incredible luck.

The Flow State cannot be accessed with a pill because it involves knowing your place in the great web of life and that we are all connected. There is no one magic bullet for our health problems because our body functions more like an open system. For example, maybe we are super stressed about an emotional problem we don’t really want to look at, and our leg goes out in a skiing accident. Forced to rest in bed, we take some time out and meditate upon our lives, and we start to see the connection between our strained leg and our emotional problem.

By making the connection we are able to let go of both the emotional stress and the physical trauma.

True healing requires more than a reductionist biochemical approach – it requires acknowledging that we are mysterious being – a vehicle for a miraculous force that links Heaven and Earth.

Tools To Alleviate Anxiety

Most stress relief articles will advise you to manage your stress and anxiety through exercises such as a yoga routine, a coloring book exercise, meditation, or listening to soothing music. Although stress reduction exercises such as meditation are useful in training your mind to relax, most people will find that they need a more therapeutic solution to really have an impact. If you’re visiting our site you probably don’t want the potential side-effects associated with prescription or over-the-counter meds.

You have healthy options!

Adaptogenic Herbs

One of the treatments our patients find really helpful for anxiety is adaptogenic herbs. These amazing herbs have been around for five thousand years. In Chinese medicine they are known as Qi and Kidney Tonic herbs. An adaptogen has “non-specific” activity and acts by “increasing resistance” of the organism to a broad spectrum of adverse biological, chemical, and physical factors. This helps to regulate or normalize organ and system function and reduces the impact of stressful situations allowing you to handle anxiety-inducing challenges more successfully without burning out your adrenals. In ancient times adaptogenics were often used prior to a long or arduous journey, before going into battle, or before an important expedition or hunt. 

Some of key benefits of adaptogenic herbs are:

  • Gives you energy – combats adrenal fatigue without needing to use stimulants
  • Promotes anti-aging and longevity by reducing inflammation, stress
  • Boosts the immune system by reducing stress
  • Improved recovery from fatigue
  • Alleviation of sleep problems
  • Improvement in sexual performance
  • Improvement in liver function and prevent liver disease.