In modern society stress is out of control! Stress comes in different forms and affects our brain and body. Stress can be short term or long term, otherwise known as acute or chronic. Short term stress makes the body respond in ways that are meant to help us survive. These adaptive responses are not supposed to go on for a long time. If stress is chronic and continues unchecked, it can make us unhealthy in different ways, usually in systems that our bodies are already struggling with.
Potential effects of chronic stress:
- Increased blood pressure
- Decreased immune response
- Irritability/ mood swings
- Decreased appetite control
- Inflammation and potential weight gain
- Depression and/or anxiety
How do we deal with chronic stress? Examples of lifestyle changes that worsen the negative impacts of stress are poor sleep habits, eating too much, drinking alcohol, or smoking. The greatest challenge may be to reverse these types of behaviors and create healthier sustainable habits that reduce the impact of stress on a regular basis. What can we do?
Some good habits to develop include:
- Going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time
- Eating meals at the same time each day
- Exercise regularly, this is a natural way to release endorphins and enhance
our bodies natural ability to withstand stress. Many studies are finding regular exercise to be as effective as anti-depressants in the treatment and management of depression.
- Find a time each day to reflect and be still. Incorporating a daily mindfulness based practice has been shown to increase cognitive performance, memory, and enhance overall mood.
- Self care: this includes getting a massage, acupuncture, or even just a warm bath with Epsom salt.
When it comes to building good habits, the hardest part is sticking to it. As busy as everyone is, it is useful to have a support network and social reinforcement. For example, having a friend join you at the gym or a yoga class, or even shared quite time before bed, can create accountability for these behaviors.
Having the right healthcare provider on your side is equally important. Lifestyle changes and stress relief can be found with the right combination of guidance and treatment. Acupuncture is well known for helping with pain, stress, and anxiety, among other ailments.
If you are looking for additional resources, click here for a helpful guide to balancing stress
How can acupuncture help with stress?
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine has been used for stress and anxiety since its inception.
As a comprehensive system of medicine, acupuncture treats the full spectrum of human conditions.
Stress and anxiety are common human afflictions, and it impacted people of the ancient world as much as it does today.
An increasing amount of research is supporting the use of acupuncture for stress and anxiety worldwide. As a recent comprehensive literature review states: “…statistically significant effects directly attributable to an acupuncture treatment lends weight to the use of acupuncture to significantly reduce the symptoms of anxiety disorders, using both human and animal subjects.” Acupuncture has been helping conditions such as these for thousands of years. Science is starting to catch up with and understand how this system of medicine can be so effective.
Some benefits of acupuncture:
- Reduces muscle tension and spasm
- Inhibits inflammation
- Improves blood flow and blood pressure
- Releases naturallyoccurring opiates, which improve mood and decrease pain
- Promotes relaxation and increases body awareness
We all have to take care of day to day responsibilities like food, shelter, and finances. Challenges arise to make us stronger right? Yet their emotional impact can linger and lead to responses that aren’t always adaptive or beneficial. There is more to life than daily struggles and just surviving. With better habits and guidance we can be successful and thrive in good health. Acupuncture is a subtle yet powerful way to help us deal with these stressors, to equip our mind and body to respond in a more relaxed and meaningful way.
Interested in learning more about the healing powers of acupuncture? Come see us!
Jonathan Nadal, LAc is a licensed acupuncturist.