Stress is a fact of life. It’s a survival skill that your body is hard-wired to use whenever you feel threatened. The problem with stress is that it’s meant to be a short-term thing–a way to deal with a quick threat, and then life as you know it is supposed to get back to normal.
At least that’s how stress was meant to be thousands of years ago. Our caveman ancestors used stress to outrun or fight a predator, confront an enemy, and survive on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the stresses we face in today’s world tend to stick around longer than a run-in with a threatening animal–in some cases much, much longer. Today our stress takes the form of an annoying co-worker, an aging parent, a sick kid, or whether or not we can pay our monthly bills–things that just don’t seem to go away quickly. And the unrelenting nature of our stress takes it toll on your body. Let me explain.
When a threat arises, your body goes through a number of physiological reactions to enable you to deal with it then and there. Your body mobilizes the systems you need for dealing with the threat: breathing is enhanced, more energy goes to your muscles, and your thinking is quick and clear. However, those systems that you don’t need right in the moment slow down, so things like your digestion and immunity are put on the back burner for the time being. The hormones responsible for this stress response are adrenaline, cortisol, and insulin.
Once the threat is over, all of your body systems calm down and go back to normal. However, with chronic stress, your body isn’t able to get back to normal, and as a result, those stress hormones stay in a “red light” mode all the time. What this means is that many of your body systems are disrupted and stay that way, causing a host of symptoms such as poor digestion, food cravings, insulin resistance, increased weight and belly fat, poor energy, and decreased immunity.
In Chinese medicine, chronically high levels of stress are usually considered to be a Liver and Spleen disharmony pattern. This simply means that the stress, frustration, and overwhelmed feelings of daily life begin to affect not only your emotions, but also your digestion. This pattern is characterized by funky digestion, poor energy, irritability, insomnia, a racing mind, and even a sensation of heat.
While acupuncture and Chinese medicine can’t replace your cranky boss or pay your bills, there are some very real benefits from a few sessions on the acupuncture table. Among them:
-Research shows that acupuncture increases production of endorphins and other neurotransmitters in your brain to help you relax and calm down.
-Acupuncture regulates your hormones.
-Your practitioner is able to use acupuncture to clear heat and cool you off, which means it helps to decrease irritability, a racing mind, restless sleep, night sweats, and an overall sensation of feeling hot.
-Acupuncture is extremely effective in calming digestive symptoms, and as a result, less fatigue and better energy.
-Research also shows that acupuncture blocks the circulation of the chemical that transmits pain signals to your brain. The upshot is that muscle tension and aches and pains can be decreased from a few acupuncture sessions.
Acupuncture is much more than a relaxing stint in a quiet room. Research has shown it to be an effective, safe, and drug-free way to deal with stress and its accompanying symptoms. If you haven’t tried it, give us a call today to see if acupuncture can help soothe the stress beast that’s affecting your health.