Stress can very much affect our mental and physical health regardless if it’s caused by money, family, or work. If not properly managed, over time, it can lead to a variety of health issues. The good news is that there is a natural treatment designed to manage your stress levels by balancing your body and mind. That treatment is acupuncture.
What is Stress?
A physiological response to the demands of life, stress is a normal physiological reaction of people to deal with the looming perils of nature. Both humans and certain animals have this adaptive mechanism. A stress response is also known as a fight or flight reaction and is built into our body to better our chances of survival. This response is achieved by changing various physiological systems of the body like mental awareness, breathing, heart rate, and hormonal levels. In the modern world, stress can be considered a positive response that assists a person to perform much better and effectively in work or at home to cope well when under pressure.
When needed, the nervous system is equipped to change from a passive state into a fight or flight state during times of stress. For some people, however, when this stress response has been activated, they find it hard to it shut off when the potential danger has passed away.
Feelings of being overwhelmed with life, digestive conditions, fatigue, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and tight shoulders are the most common symptoms and signs of chronic stress. Over time, your health will suffer when you are constantly under stress. It exhausts your vitality and natural energy reserves. The long-term effect of stress is finally being understood by Western medicine. The development of an illness usually speeds up when a person is increasingly under stress as it weakens his immune system and his ability to neutralize the illness.
What is Acupuncture?
Used by the Chinese as a treatment for various conditions for over 5,000 years, acupuncture is a healing tradition that is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), sometimes referred to as Oriental Medicine. During a typical acupuncture procedure, thin sterile needles are stuck into certain points on the body know as acupoints to modify the circulation of vital energy the Chinese refer to as Qi (pronounced chee). Based on the theory of TCM this Qi travels all over the body via energy channels known as Meridians. The meridians are connected to the acupoints as well as to the internal organs of the body. When a needle is inserted into an acupoint, it stimulates a meridian which in turn affects the function of an internal organ that in turn impacts the physical and mental aspects of the patient.
The proper management of stress is important in order to cope with the complications of modern life. Because it can help you feel relaxed and calm, acupuncture, combined with positive lifestyle modifications can be an effective way to help you enter a more harmonious state and help you fight off stress.
The QI is affected and its circulation stagnates when your body is bombarded with constant stress. This stagnation leads to a number of mental and physical symptoms including pain, headaches, tense muscles and tendons, IBS or irritable bowel syndrome, cold limbs, depression, and anger. Stagnation of Liver Qi is often the TCM diagnosis for this condition as it is the Liver’s energetic function to smooth Qi and enable it to flow without any impedance.
Acupuncture is designed to treat the Stagnation of Liver Qi. It helps clear the blockage or helps redirect the flow of Liver Qi allowing it to circulate freely once more. The “Four Gates” treatment is one of the most common acupuncture procedures for Liver Qi Stagnation. It entails the needling of acupoints Liver 3 and Large Intestine 4. Extra points located on the ears and head may also be needled to fortify the therapy. The patient usually feels so relaxed that he/she often dozes off during the entire treatment which may last for 30 minutes to a full hour.
Based on the needs of the patient and the style of the practitioner, acupuncture for the treatment of stress may be combined with Chinese Herbal Medicine. A wide variety of herbs may be used that are mixed into specific formulations to help calm the patient’s mind. The effect of the treatment is augmented when these formulas are taken on a daily basis.
Balancing Body and Mind
Mainly a mental response to your view of life, stress causes you to constantly ponder to the complicated aspects of life leaving to end up with more stress in your body than is necessary. Fortunately, acupuncture is specifically designed to heal this type of mental tension. It deeply unwinds your body and mind. Its effects may be akin to the effects of meditation, which enable you to release stress also.
The body restores itself to a state of balance as acupuncture aids in the calming of your mind. It restores or even improves the function of your organ systems that in turn helps you manage stress in a much better way. Diarrhea, vomiting, and IBS are typical symptoms of stress affecting the function of digestion. Acupuncture supports your digestive system, allowing your body to become stronger in the process enabling you to manage the next stressful situation in a more proper manner.
Compared to pharmaceutical drugs, acupuncture is a healthier and natural way to help manage stress. Acupuncture can assist you in eliminating altogether or at least lessen your need for drugs such as tranquilizers, antidepressants or sleeping pills to help you cope with stress, of course under your physician’s recommendation.
Learning to Relax
Acupuncture can also assist you to reconnect to a natural state of deep relaxation that has been lost due to the constant demands of stress. It can also help you develop a better understanding toward stress, making you aware that hard and stressful experiences are factors that can aid in your growth as an individual. Performing deep breathing exercises such as Yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi and meditation everyday can give you a great ability to come back to a relaxed state and give you a stronger control over your mind’s reactions after stress.