ACUPUNCTURE AND STRESS
Stress is a natural response of the body to the various demands we place on it that enables us to get things done. In fact, in ancient times the stress response, also known as the fight or flight response, provided us with energy to preserve life during difficult situations, such as an attack or threat by a wild animal. However, today’s stress is considerably higher, more frequent, and more consistent than what was experienced in ancient times. If left unmanaged, stress can lead to emotional, psychological, and physical problems. Stress causes a disruption in the flow of vital energy or Qi (chee) through the body. These energetic imbalances can throw off the immune system or cause symptoms of pain, sleep disturbances, abnormal digestion, headaches, menstrual irregularities, aggravation of existing troublesome health conditions and over time see more serious illnesses develop.
Stressful situations that last over a long period of time can create an ongoing low-level stress that puts continued pressure on the nervous system, increasing activity, and even cause the overproduction of hormones. The extra stress hormones over time can wear out the body’s reserves, lead to fatigue, depression, a weakened immune system, and a host of serious physical and psychological ailments.
Signs of stress overload include:
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Feelings of constant pressure
- Irritability and moodiness
- Physical symptoms such as stomach problems, headaches, or even chest pain
- Allergic reactions such as eczema or asthma
- Sleeping problems
- Overindulgence in food, alcohol, smoking, or drugs
- Sadness or depression
Numerous studies have demonstrated the substantial benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of stress. Acupuncture improves circulation of blood throughout the body, which oxygenates the tissues and cycles out cortisol and other waste chemicals. The calming nature of acupuncture also decreases heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and relaxes the muscles.
The person coming for a stress management treatment would either lie down on their back or stomach on a comfortable table and could be needled on their back, torso, arms, legs, head and/or ears depending on what the acupuncturist sees as necessary for the patient. Points on the Gall Bladder, Liver, Kidney and Bladder meridians could be used in the treatment. Needles remain in place for 20-30 minutes while the patient listens to relaxing music.
While it isn’t always possible to remove the external forces causing stress, the ability to effectively deal with stress is a choice. Take time for yourself to cultivate the energy you need to handle your stress more skillfully and effectively and consider acupuncture.