Stagnation can manifest as pain in the body, digestive upset, tightness in the shoulders, chest or other parts of the body, a lump in the throat or stomach, depression of the spirit, sighing, mood swings and anger, hormonal imbalances (especially PMS) and more.
In Chinese medicine there must be smooth flow of energy in order to be healthy and happy.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can greatly improve qi stagnation. However, it is equally important for you to help yourself. If you start noticing behaviors, thoughts, patterns and activities that lead to stagnation and actively interrupt them, it will help alleviate the stagnation.
Ways to help yourself relieve stagnation:
- Notice when your shoulders are tense or you are holding/tightening any part of your body and actively let it relax. Common places for holding tension are the shoulders, neck and jaw. Some people will even notice their arms or legs may tighten. Start paying attention to where and when you tighten. Tightening in the body in response to certain people or situations can be a good clue that we need to remove ourselves from the interaction.
- Notice when you are thinking thoughts or having emotions that lead to anger, resentment or frustration. When you are having these emotions, just notice them and try not to get too bogged down in them. Try to figure out how to release them. Often forgiveness and acceptance of yourself and others is a good place to start. There is a Chinese medicine saying that "the qi follows the mind and the mind follows the qi." This means that our thoughts and emotions impact the smooth flow of qi throughout the body, and can lead to disease in the body as well as the mind. Please don't repress your emotions, as this can lead to even more stagnation. Instead, notice the emotion and experiment with accepting and releasing the emotion.
- If you are very inactive or sit for long periods of time, get moving. Exercise relieves qi stagnation. Just getting up to stretch and mobilize your joints can help quite a bit.
- Start noticing what is going on with your breath. The breath moves qi and is also qi itself. If you hold your breath, qi cannot flow. In stressful situations, we often hold our breath and some of us get into this pattern even when not under stress. Start paying attention to the breath and breathing deep into the belly when possible.
- Try to look at your lifestyle and see if you need to modify it. If your schedule is driving you crazy and leading to stagnation, it will be hard to fully regain your health and relieve your stress. Our modern world is demanding, and sometimes we have to learn to say no to one more commitment, project or dinner party. Having some unstructured time each day (or at least a few days a week) is helpful to allow the qi to flow.
Do you have any tips you would like to add?