Stress is a natural response of the body to the various demands we place upon it. Stress symptoms affect both our physical health and emotional health. Addressing the negative effects of stress can have a profound impact on overall health and longevity. Acupuncture and TCM provide stress relief and address the myriad other issues to which stress can contribute.
Everyone experiences stress in many forms. Mild stressors like getting through traffic, meeting work deadlines, and handling relationship difficulties crop up daily. These stressors are usually short lived, keep us alert to what is going on around us, and can keep us motivated to meet problems with energy. Acute stress occurs when we face a sudden, negative change in our life, such as a personal loss or damaging accident. Both of these kinds of stress can build up in the body and mind, like a pressure valve that needs to be released. Otherwise, the compound effects can trigger the formation of disease and mental health issues. Acupuncture treatment releases blockages created by recurring and/or chronic stress.
How Do You Respond to Stress Symptoms?
In ancient times, the human stress response–also known as our “fight or flight” instinct–provided us with energy to defend ourselves in potentially dangerous situations, such as an attack or threat by a wild animal. Today, we do not have to look much further than our cell phone screens to be bombarded with stress-inducing news, images, and situations. Being constantly on high alert is the new normal. Even when the stressors are removed, the body continues to keep the stress response active. This results in the depletion of the nervous system, lymphatic organs (spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes), kidneys and adrenal glands.
Many health conditions are triggered or exacerbated by external stressors. Sometimes the body and mind become so accustomed to the stress response that we begin to initiate the response internally, as with anxiety. In other cases, the organs and systems respond to being overworked by beginning to malfunction, such as with heart disease and hormone imbalances, or becoming inflamed, as in joint problems or digestive troubles. Medical studies have shown that with increased and consistent stress, the white blood cells which defend us against viruses decrease in number. This results in lower immune resistance, ultimately leading to physical disease and emotional instability.
Constant stimulation of the glands that produce adrenaline and cortisol can trigger the development of debilitating conditions that can be difficult to diagnose and treat, such as anxiety, depression, adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome, and weight gain.
15 Health Problems Related to Stress
These are just some of the health conditions related to stress:
- Depressed immune system
- Digestive disorders
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Joint pain
- Weight problems
- Decreased sexual function
- PTSD symptoms
- Chronic fatigue
How to Treat Stress Relief with TCM and Acupuncture
Acupuncture and TCM can provide a safe, effective and drug-free alternative for the treatment of stress. Acupuncture addresses the immediate effects of stress, helping reduce not only symptoms but the person’s perception of stress. Over time, working with an acupuncturist near me can not only resolve underlying issues, but help the patient to strengthen the immune system and exercise better conscious control of responses to stress through lifestyle change.
One way that stress affects the body is by causing a depletion or blockage of Qi (pronounced “chee”), especially that of the kidneys and adrenals. With acupuncture and TCM, the practitioner’s job is to support and restore the integrity of the various organs affected and depleted by the stress response, along with evaluating the quality and quantity of Qi.
Self Care for Stress Management
Our response to stressors and our overall approach to life can either help or hinder our body’s ability to cope. Healthy responses to stress include appropriate physical exercise, good eating habits, positive thinking, adequate rest, and reaching out to friends and family for support. Unhealthy responses to stress include negative thinking, overexertion, poor eating habits, lack of sleep, and isolation. These unhealthy responses can cause the body to work harder than it needs to and can trigger physical and mental health issues.
5 Ways to Combat Stress
- Get adequate sleep. Aim to get at least eight hours. Daytime naps are also restorative.
- Practice meditation. Qi Gong, Tai Chi and Yoga can help create a healthy awareness of the body and mind connection. Learning to free the mind from repetitive negative thoughts is a powerful way to reduce stress.
- Focus on balanced, mindful eating. Maintain a healthy diet with adequate amounts of complex carbs, vegetables, fruits, protein and healthy fats. Disengage from media while eating. Recognize and reduce episodes of “stress” eating.
- Have fun! Make time for relaxing activities, enjoyable hobbies and laughter in your life.
- Breathe. Relaxed deep breathing is one of the most simple and easy techniques that can be used for reducing stress.
Receiving regular acupuncture treatments can go a long way towards preventing accumulation of the effects of stress on the body and emotions. Establishing a trusting relationship with an experienced, highly qualified TCM provider will boost your health, quality of life, and longevity.