Acupuncture and Stress Relief
Stress is a natural, nonspecific response of the body to the various demands we place upon it. Stress is not necessarily negative. There is a distinction between healthy and unhealthy stress. Healthy stress includes appropriate physical exercise, good eating habits, positive thinking, adequate rest, and a natural response to emergency situations.
These stressors keep us alert and motivated, and support our body’s strength and vitality. Unhealthy stress, such as negative emotions and thinking, overexertion, poor eating habits, lack of sleep, and chemical and environmental pollutants and toxins, can challenge our health and trigger physical and mental problems.
In ancient times, our stress response, also known as our fight or flight response, provided us with energy to preserve life during difficult situations, such as an attack or threat by a wild animal. Today, we don’t have to look much further than our windows, or computer screens, to view various forms of stressors. From prime–time news coverage and road rage, to the 40-hour work week, terrorism talk, and cell phones, there are many sources of stress in our modern world.
Unfortunately, our stress is considerably higher, more frequent, and more consistent than what our predecessors experienced. Over time, this excess stress can actually be detrimental to our health. Our body’s natural response to stressful situations is to activate all available resources for survival, and to get us out of a scary situation quickly. With the increase in physical, emotional, and mental stressors, our stress response gets locked in, which results in the depletion of the body’s resources.
Even if the stressors are no longer present, the body continues to keep the stress response active. This results in the depletion of our nervous system, lymphatic organs (spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes), kidneys, and adrenal glands, and can pave the way for a wide variety of other symptoms and signs.
Medical studies have shown that with increased and consistent stress, our white blood cells, which defend our body against viruses, decrease. This decrease results in lower immune resistance, ultimately leading to physical disease and emotional instability.
Signs and Symptoms of an Overactive Response to Stress:
- Depressed Immune System
- Digestive Disorders
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Joint Pain
- Weight Problems
There Is Hope
Practitioners of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have been helping people cope with stress for thousands of years. The ancient theories of TCM are similar to those of Western medicine when it comes to the ways that stress impacts us. TCM theory and treatment, however, go far beyond simply treating symptoms and signs.
Along with treating physical and emotional symptoms and signs associated with stress, this ancient medicine addresses the root cause(s) of the problem. One way that stress affects the body is by causing a depletion or blockage of Qi, especially that of the kidneys and adrenals.
Qi (pronounced”chee”) is the vital energy or power that animates and supports the functions of the body. It flows through specific pathways, called meridians, and provides nourishment for the entire body. When Qi becomes “blocked” or the supply is inadequate, the body and organ systems become “stressed out” and our health is then compromised.
With acupuncture and TCM, the practitioner’s job is to support and restore the integrity of the various affected organs that have been depleted by the stress response, and also to evaluate the quality and quantity of Qi.
Your acupuncturist may suggest adjunct therapies to enhance treatment and speed healing. Proper eating habits, as well as regular exercise, stretching, movement, and meditation practices, support and promote a balanced and healthy body, mind, and spirit.
Acupuncture and TCM can provide a safe, effective, and drug–free alternative for the treatment of stress.
Things You Can Do to Help Combat Stress:
- Practice Yoga – When you practice yoga, you create an awareness of your body and mind connection, which helps to free your mind of stressful thoughts.
- Start a Hobby – Hobbies require a mindful presence and can break a hectic and stressful pace.
- Do One Thing at a Time – Many of us believe that multitasking allows us to get more done, faster. If you focus on one task at a time, you can get more done with fewer mistakes.
- Meditate – Meditation teaches us to stay focused on our breath and posture. When you are in a meditative state, you are present and in touch with your innate wisdom.