Stress. Everybody’s got it. How do you manage it?
Many people turn to acupuncture for stress relief. “I feel so relaxed” is the #1 comment we hear from patients after their acupuncture treatments. When patients get referred to us by doctors, often they are getting sent to us so we can help reduce the symptoms of stress with acupuncture.
How does stress impact your health?
The stress response is a survival mechanism, designed to help us survive a threatening situation. Back in the days of hunting and gathering, those threats were short-lived, and the stress response came and went. In today’s world, stress tends to be chronic and we stay in a state of high stress for long periods of time. This long-term stress is damaging our health. The first thing that happens during any stress response is a hormone called cortisol is released from the adrenal glands into the body.
This starts a domino effect causing a long list of issues related to stress:
· Neck Pain
· Hormonal imbalances
· Irregular periods
· Weight gain
How does acupuncture treat stress?
In Chinese medicine, stress causes a blockage to the circulation of your vital life force, known as Qi. The circulatory system is made up of meridians which carry blood and qi to all of the organs and cells of the body. These meridians are like highways, and stress causes a traffic jam. This leads to the many symptoms of stress. Acupuncture reduces stress by placing very fine needles along the meridians, which breaks up the congestion and gets traffic moving.
How often will I need to get acupuncture?
The good news is that you will feel better after just one acupuncture session. However, a single treatment won’t be enough to relieve the symptoms of stress forever. Depending on how stress has impacted your heath, it may take 5 – 10 sessions to bring longer-lasting relief from the stress. If you have had chronic stress – and the associated health problems – for many years, it may take longer. Many patients, once they are feeling better, will choose to come in for regular wellness care and stress relief, typically once or twice a month for an acupuncture tune-up.
Other ways to relieve stress
Adaptogens are a group of herbs that help the body, specifically the adrenals, adapt to stress. These include such herbs as Panax Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Holy Basil, and Rhodiola. These herbs are often taken in combination for best results.
There is a classic formula called “Free and Easy Wanderer” that has been relieving the symptoms of stress for over 700 years. The name says it all: your energy should be moving freely and easily throughout your meridian system. This formula is typically available in several forms, including pills and tinctures.
Figuring out how to get enough sleep goes a long way in managing stress and improving your health. The topic of sleep deserves its own blog.
Here is a short list of things that can help:
· Various herbs for sleep
· Relaxing activities prior to bedtime – hot baths with Epsom salts, showers, meditation, stretching, reading
· Avoid excess stimulation prior to bedtime
· A dark bedroom, free of electronics
· The best sleep happens if you go to bed prior to 11 pm
Mild to moderate exercise, simply gentle walking for 20 minutes daily, can have tremendous benefits:
· reduces stress
· increases overall health
· improves sense of well-being
· releases endorphins (aka natural opiates)
· improves sleep