Stress is a blanket term used by western medicine to describe a variety of situations. The oxford dictionary says its: “A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances”. This pretty much describes every day of anyone’s life. In Acupuncture, stress doesn’t exist, instead Acupuncture has defined key emotions which affect different organs of our bodies. To read about how stress specifically impacts your digestion, see my page under digestive health. As stress is such a broad term, the range of symptoms are equally as broad, but its a question of how your body handles stress. In small amounts there shouldn’t be any long term signs, but if you are experiencing any of the following on a regular basis, then your body is being affected by stress:
- Trouble falling asleep or waking during the night
- Feelings of worry or frustration regularly
- Headaches or neck tension
- Bloating or trouble digesting food, or loss of appetite
- Tightness in the chest or trouble breathing
- Changes to your menstrual cycle
- Frequently catching colds and flus
- Constant fatigue or lethargy
These are all signs that your body is being weakened by excessive stress, and you need to take action!
An interesting research article from America showed Acupuncture to lower stress and improve sleep in the elderly, which had the flow on effect of improving their immune system.
In my Acupuncture clinic, worry and frustration are the 2 most common terms clients use to describe stress. Within Acupuncture, worry affects your Spleen and Heart, causing digestive and sleep symptoms. Frustration affects your liver, which can affect your diaphragm, emotions and menstrual cycle. This is why the symptoms can be so widespread. The strength of Acupuncture is its ability to find the root cause of your stress, and then treat it accordingly.
How to Reduce Stress with Acupuncture
Once we have identified the root cause of your stress, we then work on rebalancing your body. Mind calming points are always included so I work on the acute symptoms, as well as the underlying cause. I also discuss the importance of coping mechanisms, like yoga, running, martial arts, whatever helps you de-stress. I frequently see people internalise their worries and they get to a point where they feel like they will burst. These coping mechanisms are critical to your long term health and are part of my stress prevention plan to stop you from frequently having to visit the clinic. Provided the patient follows this advice, the outcome for treating stress is often quite good, but it is a team effort. Like with any condition, don’t expect it to get better on its own. I see many cases of IBS, infertility and chronic fatigue syndrome brought about my periods of stress which were never managed properly. Early intervention is the key to a quick recovery.
Another interesting research piece found Acupuncture reduced stress by blocking elevations in hormones which are activated by stress.
How to Relieve Stress Naturally
I know this is much easier said than done, but everyone has some control over their lives, and you need to have strategies in place to ensure the stressful parts of your life don’t affect your health in the long term.
- Make sure you have hobbies and outlets – whether it be gym, yoga, tai chi or martial arts. Ensure you have an activity that helps you burn off your work worries.
- Get good quality sleep – a solid 7-hrs without waking and waking up refreshed.
- Good balanced diet – We are what we eat, which is why my clinic is focused on treating digestive health. A good diet means a strong immune system and helps you cope with stress.
- Regular exercise – helps you burn off the stress
- Try and avoid stressful situations
- Don’t let others pass their worries and stress on to you – sometimes you need to be selfish and put yourself first. You can’t help those around you if you’re unwell