By Mark Bodnar
Stress is something that more and more of my patients are experiencing daily and finding that it is interfering with their health and happiness. If you ask any health care professional they will agree that chronic stress is just no good for your body. Recently there have been several medical studies showing a relationship between high stress levels and decreased health. They’ve shown stress can lead to decreased immune system function, stiff muscles (commonly the back and neck), poor sleep and digestive disturbances to name a few.
The good news is that acupuncture can help. From a Chinese medicine understanding, stress affects the flow of qi and eventually blood flow within the body causing something called a stagnation of qi. Acupuncture helps to move qi and blood and relieve stress. It also releases endorphins within the brain and has a deep relaxing effect on the body. A medical study done at the University of California found that acupuncture decreases the sympathetic nerve activity producing a calming effect during periods of stress, lowering blood pressure and muscle tension.
In addition to acupuncture there are some things you can do to help yourself.
- Relaxing your mind: Try to focus your mind on other things. This gives the body a break from dealing with the stress response. Make a habit to take a couple a minutes to clear your mind from everything and focus on the positives in your life.
- Make time for yourself: Pampering yourself or taking part in activities that you really enjoy will increase your happiness.
- Exercise: It’s a great tool to help with stress. So go for a walk or hop on your bike. Just 10 minutes a day will make difference over some time.
Acupuncture can provide a safe and effective tool for handling stress. Typically as the heavy feelings of stress are relieved, you start to feel more confident in your ability to cope and make some necessary changes.