Let’s be honest, it has been a stressful year for all of us. Everyone differs in how they experience and manage stress. Whether you express your frustrations overtly or hold it all in, the bottom line is that no matter your coping mechanism, stress can negatively impact your life in several ways. Not only can it affect your relationships and interactions with other people, but it can also be damaging to your health.
Stress is a protective function of the body and has the capacity to warn us about harmful circumstance, often referred to as the fight or flight response. This was useful for our survival when it was necessary to evade predators. Common modern stressors include work, politics, relationship difficulties, isolation, negative thinking, poor eating and sleeping habits, and overexertion both mentally and physically. Modern stress is less useful for our survival and does more harm than good.
Stress activates hormone responses including adrenaline and cortisol. Long-term activation of the stress-response system and the overexposure to cortisol can disrupt almost all your body’s processes, increasing your risk of many health problems. Conditions commonly caused by or associated with stress include headaches, depression, anxiety, digestive problems, poor sleep, weight gain, and difficulty with memory and concentration. Stress can also make existing medical conditions worse and impair your immune system.
Acupuncture works to balance and calm your physiological response, including hormones and the nervous system, to promote a healthier reaction to mental, emotional, and physical stimulus. Acupuncture treats the entire person, it does not separate body, mind and spirit which makes it extremely effective for decreasing stress levels and regulating anxieties. Acupuncture does more than just relax you. It aims to restore an innate system that may be reacting in a disproportionate manner to a situation – or help to strengthen your capacity to deal with difficult situations in a less destructive manner.
Acupuncture is commonly used in VA facilities across the nation for our veterans. It is recognized that acupuncture has a profound benefit for those who are experiencing PTDS (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). PTSD is common in our service members, although it can occur with any type of trauma. What is stressful for one person may be experienced entirely differently by someone else. It is about knowing what causes you stress and how you are affected by it. Once we acknowledge that something has caused us stress, then we can provide ourselves the tools to help us through challenging times.
There are things you can do at home to help yourself manage stress better. Minimize boxed and processed foods while adding lots of fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy sleep routine, exercising regularly, and getting outside for fresh air. Acupuncture can bring about a deeper physiological change to restore balance on all levels. It is a valuable tool to help you reestablish a healthy response when stressors find their way into your life, giving you the opportunity to move past challenges and create space for the things in your life that bring you joy.