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How to Cope with Stress


Article by Margreit Maitland

Photography by Gina Motisi

I had the pleasure to talk with Liz Martin in my search for expertise to share how we can better manage the stress of daily life. Especially now, when we are all so isolated, it is critical to take care of our mental health, keep spirits up and stay positive. 

Liz has a background rooted in mindfulness. Her career began as a martial artist with a black belt in Tai Chi. In her early twenties, an injury threatened to sideline her for six months. She searched for an alternative to a very long process of recovery and found acupuncture. In just six weeks, Liz was functioning at a normal, active level. This success led her to investigate Asian healing methods in their entirety and go on to earn a master’s degree in chinese herbal medicine, a bachelor of health science and associates in massage therapy. 

Liz has since founded Hands On Acupuncture in Stony Brook Village and now uses her considerable expertise to treat and counsel her clients on how they can maintain whole body health in tandem and collaboration with western medicine. The foundation of her practice and philosophy are the four pillars of traditional Chinese medicine: acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, manual therapy and therapeutic exercises. These are the basis for the individual therapy plans that are developed for clients.

Education is a core value for Liz, and so when I asked her for some tips so our community can better manage what is happening with the pandemic, she was happy to share some of the ways she helps her clients take steps toward achieving serenity. 

  1. Journaling: This is an important way to express emotions in a private setting. It creates a living history. This process can also serve to communicate feelings of anger and hurt and allows the subconscious to process emotions in a productive manner. 
  2. Awareness of breath: You may notice that when you are in a heightened emotional state your breath is shallow and short. To begin take one breath in for a count of five. Allow this deep breath to fill your lower abdomen (not just your chest) and then release the breath out for a count of five. This methodical process will help to rebalance the mind and allow you to think more clearly.
  3. Aromatherapy: Using lavender or other essential oils can create an environment that promotes a calm mindset. Lavender can be diffused, or a few drops can be put on a pillowcase, or try soy candles that are infused with lavender oil. Cedarwood is also used to quell anxiety especially those with trauma.\

*Please remember that essential oils are potent and so must be diluted with a carrier oil if used on any bare skin.

Stress and emotional imbalance are subjective. What one person experiences, another may not. However, there is a biological truth in that when we feel stress, the balance is our bodies is thrown off. Symptoms that affect respiratory, digestive or immune responses (and still more biological systems) can be disruptive and make it difficult to manage our professional and personal lives. During this most unusual time when our country is gripped by a pandemic, Liz is teaching clients in remote sessions about how they can use some of the tools mentioned above, along with an Individual Therapy Plan (ITP), to help themselves maintain a healthy body and positive outlook. These are the first steps on a path to serenity.