created in partnership with Endeavour College of Natural Health

How To Stay Calm When Everything Feels Chaotic, According To A Chinese Medicine Practitioner

For many of us, it can be tough to find time in our day-to-day life to gain a sense of calm. Whether you’re on a tight deadline or cosplaying as an octopus with the number of tasks on your life admin to-do list, staying calm takes practice – and deep breaths.
This overwhelm can multiply tenfold when going through a big life change such as a new job, a breakup, moving house or starting a family. While these moments often have positives once you get to the other side, when you’re in the thick of them, it’s hard to see how you’ll get through the next hour, let alone a month.
There are a number of different ways to find calm in your life and to learn more, we spoke with Chinese Medicine Practitioner, Veronika Peovska. The Endeavour College of Natural Health alum is a practitioner of one of the world’s most ancient medical systems. 
According to Peovska, the essence of Chinese medicine is to restore harmony within the body by “nourishing deficiencies” and “clearing any stagnation or blockages in the body”. 
If you’re feeling swamped with nerves and uncertainty, or know you’ll be going through a life upheaval soon, then read on for some tips. 

Benefits of Chinese Medicine 

Firstly, Chinese medicine incorporates several methodologies. These include acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, remedial massage, cupping, moxibustion, gua sha, Chinese dietetics and exercise therapy. 
According to Peovska, one of the main misconceptions about the practice is that there’s no supporting evidence for its efficacy. 
“Chinese medical systems and practices were developed through observation, lived experience and testing – three fundamental aspects of scientific research.” 
The practice was built from a long, rich cultural history that still has a place in today’s modern world. 
“Continuing these practices allows us to pay homage to the foundational medicine that was passed down to us and that kept our ancestors healthy through many centuries,” says Peovska. 

How may it help us to stay calm?

One of the practice’s most well-known methods of healing is acupuncture. “Acupuncture is believed to work by restoring or maintaining the balance of Qi or energy," acupuncturist Dr Ellen Freeman told Refinery29. "When the body’s Qi is balanced, the body is healthy.” 
Chinese medicine practitioners believe that the flow of Qi can "become stagnated or deficient", which then results in illness or pain. "By stimulating the body’s innate healing response [with acupuncture], balance can be achieved," says Freeman.
Exercises such as Qigong and tai chi are another way to connect with our breath in times of stress. Part-meditation, part-yoga, these practices aim to harness the body’s Qi. They help to stop stagnation of energy within the body.
As well as acupuncture and exercise, Chinese medicine harnesses the power of herbs. 
“We often use Chinese herbal formulas that are chosen and based on the individual patient’s symptoms. This means one size doesn’t fit all,” says Peovska. 
“A couple of my personal favourite herbs for calming include jujube seeds (or Chinese date seeds) and lotus seeds.” 

Don’t forget to breathe

While there are a number of useful practices, herbs and exercises to engage with, Peovska believes that one of the best tools we have against stress is our breath.
“Shifting the way we breathe can help regulate our nervous system, and thus, our experience of stress,” says Peovska. 
When our breath is shallow and rapid, we may be activating our ‘fight or flight’ response. If we focus on deepening and slowing down our breath, we can help to calm both our body and mind.
“One of my favourite ways to do this is to place my hands on my lower abdomen and intentionally guide my breath to become slower and deeper. Every inhale should fill the belly, and you should feel your hands moving out with your belly instead of breathing into your chest,” Peovska shares. 
If these lifestyle changes are not enough to help your overwhelming feelings of stress or life change, then seeing a counsellor or psychologist may be what you need. 
However, these tools will hopefully give you something to look forward to in your busy schedule. By carving out a fortnightly acupuncture session or a morning tai chi practice, you may feel more connected to yourself, your breath and ultimately, your sense of calm. 
“One thing I frequently find myself explaining to my patients is that our current lifestyle is not conducive to keeping us calm,” says Peovska.
“We are continuously bombarded by information and sensory input, all while trying to complete endless tasks throughout the day. We must intentionally find ways to soothe ourselves to counteract this ongoing, low-level stress.” 
And, despite it feeling great, Peovska notes that sitting in front of the TV or doom-scrolling for hours isn’t enough.
“I urge you to find the things that allow your body and mind to feel genuinely calm and rested.”
The health information in this article is general in nature. Please always consult your GP or other trusted health practitioner to seek advice that is specific to your needs.

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