Understanding Stress and Anxiety: How Acupuncture Works To Alleviate Stress
Everybody at one point in time in their lives has suffered from stress. Stress is a normal response when people feel something important is outside their control. A healthy body can withstand stress for a limited amount of time with little to no detrimental health effects.
However, long term or extreme stress can create serious chronic physical and emotional problems. This should be dealt with quickly to avoid ill effects to one’s health.
The Body’s “Fight Or Flight” Response
The first sign of a perceived or actual threat comes from the sympathetic nervous system in the form of the “fight or flight” response. What happens during this time is that the body experiences a rising heart rate, the pupils dilate and the digestion process shuts down for a short time. The blood is directed to the extremities so that a person can fight what they find threatening or run if need be.
This stress response worked extremely well for our ancestors in the wild but not so much today when the threat is from typical long-term modern problems such as trouble with coworkers or superiors, family issues, financial problems or aspirations.
The Long Term Effects Of This Natural Stress Response
The stress most modern people feel is long-term, and because of that, the body constantly feels the the need to respond. Cortisol is released in response to stress, and long-term elevated cortisol levels have negative effect on health.
Cortisol elevates blood pressure and depresses the immune system. Long term effects can develop into depression, poor digestion, headaches, anxiety and a lack of energy.
Emotions in Chinese Medicine
According to Chinese medicine, strong emotional states such as anxiety, depression and stress can disrupt the flow of energy (Qi or “chi”) in the human body. Energy flows through the body like water flows through a river. When the flow of energy is interrupted, it is like the river gets blocked. When the body experiences an intense reaction like stress, anger or depression, it’s a dam in the river that prevents the water from getting where it need to be and instead pool in excess in the wrong place.
Many people who have continual stress in their lives suffer with pain in the neck, shoulder and upper back. The reason is the disrupted energy to these areas, which is causing the discomfort.
Stress will affect various other parts of the body including the digestive system, blood pressure, pain and the ability to get restful sleep. Stress can intensify the severity of other existing medical conditions.
How Acupuncture Can Help The Body Deal With Stress
Stress, pain, depression and more common issues are defined in traditional Chinese medicine as a disharmony in the patient’s Qi. In Western medical terms, acupuncture stress treatments will release endorphins, which are natural pain-killing chemicals. It also works to boost the blood circulation in the body, making sure to oxygenate its tissues and eliminate the waste chemicals. It’s also been found to reduce the heart rate, drop blood pressure and help the muscles relax.
Repeated treatments and occasional herbal formulae (if deemed necessary) extend the effectiveness of the treatments until the Qi’s disharmony is resolved.
Insomnia is defined as trouble either falling asleep or staying asleep. Episodes of insomnia may come and go. An occasional loss of night of sleep can be tolerated, but when the insomnia is chronic, physical symptoms may occur. Your mood may be affected, or you may feel irritable or anxious. Insomnia may be caused by stress, traumatic events, or physical changes such as menopause. Acupuncture and TCM will identify the underlying issue, and rebalance the body for a good nights sleep.