We recently launched our new herbal remedy, Harmonize. Formulated to help shield your body from the damaging effects of stress by helping to balance the body's cortisol levels.

Today we're exploring how stress differs from anxiety.

In today’s fast-paced world, stress and anxiety have become far too common. As a Chinese medicine doctor, I often encounter patients who struggle with these issues; seeking relief and understanding. While the terms stress and anxiety are often used interchangeably in everyday language, they are very distinct in their origin and effects on the body. 

Stress is a natural response to external pressures or demands, whether they are physical, emotional, or psychological in nature. It can arise from various sources such as work pressures, financial burdens, relationship conflicts or major life changes.

Stress triggers the body's "fight or flight" response, releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to prepare for potential threats. While short term stress can have beneficial effects, chronic or excessive stress can have detrimental effects on physical and mental health.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, stress is seen as an imbalance of Qi, or vital energy. Stress disrupts the smooth flow of Qi leading to disharmony within the body.

Stress can cause a variety of symptoms- insomnia, tension headaches, muscle tightness, delayed or absence of menstrual cycle, premenstrual syndrome, digestive disturbances, hypertension. Stress speeds up the aging process of all our organs.

Anxiety on the other hand, is characterized by persistent worry, apprehension, or fear about future events or outcomes. Unlike stress, which is often tied to specific stressors, anxiety can manifest spontaneously or in anticipation of perceived dangers, even in the absence of real external triggers. 

Anxiety disorders encompass a spectrum of conditions, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and phobias. 

Physiologically, anxiety activates the sympathetic nervous system, leading to symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, muscle tension, insomnia and digestive disturbances.

From the TCM perspective, anxiety is often described as a disturbance of Shen, or the spirit. While stress is primarily related to external pressures, anxiety is more closely linked to internal imbalances of the mind and emotions. In TCM theory, excessive worry, rumination, or fear can disrupt the Shen, leading to symptoms such as palpitations, insomnia, or restlessness. Anxiety is seen as a manifestation of disharmony between the heart, spleen, and liver energies, affecting both the physical and mental aspects of well-being.

While stress and anxiety have distinct manifestations, they are interconnected. Chronic stress can cause one to develop or exacerbate an existing anxiety disorder by dysregulating neurotransmitter systems and altering brain structure and function. Conversely, anxiety can exacerbate stress by magnifying perceived threats and increasing the body's stress response. 

Both of our herbal remedies Illuminate and Harmonize were created with the intention to restore balance and harmony within the body. While Illuminate was created to help relieve symptoms associated with anxiety, Harmonize was thoughtfully formulated to help shield your body from the damaging effects stress.

To achieve greater relief of symptoms it is important to adopt a lifestyle that includes acupuncture, dietary adjustments, mind-body practices such as tai chi, qigong, yoga, dance, boxing, meditation as they are invaluable tools for managing stress and anxiety. These practices help to cultivate mindfulness, improve self-awareness, and enhance resilience in the face of life’s challenges. 

Only by addressing the root causes of imbalance, rather than merely masking symptoms, one can achieve lasting health and well-being.

Remember, true health is not merely the absence of symptoms, but a state of balance and harmony within the body, mind, and spirit.