Managing stress with acupuncture

You know what it feels like to be stressed out. Your nerves get jangled, and you can’t relax. You may experience muscle tightness and pain. You may develop a headache. Your heart may even feel like it is going to jump right out of your body.  The scary thing is that when you feel like this on a regular basis, it not only feels uncomfortable, but it also slowly erodes your health. 

Chronic stress causes a continuous stream of cortisol, a stress hormone produced in the adrenal glands, to be released into your bloodstream. Excess cortisol can interfere with mood-enhancing brain chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine, leading to depression and anxiety. It can also breakdown healthy tissues, including skin, bone and connective tissues. Excess cortisol suppresses the immune system, affects memory, raises blood pressure, and causes blood sugar imbalances. Furthermore, stressed out adrenal glands can’t attend to their other important hormone-regulating duties, thereby diminishing thyroid function and shutting down the reproductive system. Generally speaking, as you become more and more stressed, and your adrenal glands become exhausted, the following symptoms begin to appear: insomnia, fatigue, weight gain, depression, fuzzy thinking, etc.

So, what do you do to halt this cascade of events? You could choose to exercise, or maybe meditate.  And, deep breathing usually helps. But, if you feel like you just can’t break the cycle on your own, you should give acupuncture a try. 

If you think that being poked with a needle sounds like it would cause more stress, think again. Acupuncture needles are quite fine and usually don’t cause much more than the sensation of a mosquito bite. They do cause the body to release endorphins and other mood enhancing substances, such as those mentioned above. They do induce a deep parasympathetic relaxation. And, they do alter brain wave activity, signifying a deeply restorative, meditative state.  

At the time of the treatment, acupuncture almost instantly induces a relaxation response, reminding the body what it feels like to be relaxed. Many people feel the calming effects for several days. By getting regular acupuncture treatments, you build resilience to stress, and are better equipped to manage whateve life presents to you.