By Paul Gaucher
Having mild stress in our lives is beneficial towards positive life growth and achieving our goals. However,when stress and anxiety are prolonged and more severe, our health can start to deteriorate.
Being in health care, it’s hard for me to think of a health complaint that isn’t worsened by excessive stress. Stress induces your body’s fight or flight reaction. A hormone called cortisol is produced and released in the blood stream and this causes the person to become fatigued, depressed and frustrated. It also causes sleeping problems, tightness in the shoulder and neck muscles, anxiety and pain in various parts of the body, including irritable bowel syndrome, premenstrual symptoms in women, migraines and headaches. These problems raise blood pressure and lead to a weak immune system.
Acupuncture stimulates the muscles and tissues in a person with extreme stress and this helps with the movement of blood and Qi. Acupuncture activates the brain to produce and release stress-suppressing hormones like serotonin and endorphins that leads to a deep relaxing sensation in the mind that relieves stress. It also balances cortisol levels in the blood and washes away toxins by enhancing blood flow.
Common signs of stress include:
• Easily frustrated, agitated, or moody
• Nervousness and social anxiety
• Muscle tension
• Difficulty relaxing or quieting the mind
• Low energy
• Trouble focusing
• Feeling overwhelmed and pessimistic
• Digestive complaints
There are many ways to counteract the negative effects of stress. Firstly, to minimize the build-up of stress, it’s important to set reasonable goals so that we don’t exhaust ourselves in our day to day living. If stress and anxiety become overwhelming, getting moderate exercise helps to release tension and improve sleep quality. Relaxation music in the evening or before bedtime can also help to soothe the nervous system after a busy day. Breathing exercises and yoga are also known to have similar calming effects.
Any effective treatment for a busy lifestyle almost always involves treating the adrenal glands. These small glands are important in regulating metabolism and initiating the stress response in our bodies, and when they become overused they have to be nourished in order to feel energized and balanced again. Acupuncture works by moving and tonifying energy, whereas stress stops the flow of energy, which impairs our ability to address other health problems.
Acupuncture provides excellent stress reduction, and when combined with lifestyle and dietary recommendations, as well as appropriate herbal remedies, you can more effectively meet the demands in your life. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is also quite effective to relieve depression. Naturally, the herbs and acupuncture points that are used will nourish the internal organs, and effectively calm the nervous system. These medicines are very safe and their effects can be felt within a week or even days of taking them.
I firmly believe in helping people find a long-term strategy for stress-reduction. In order to effectively manage stress in your life, you’ll start with an initial series of acupuncture treatments, usually three to six sessions over one month. Treatment plans are customized for each individual. I sit down with you to discuss your self-care and key areas of your life, including diet, exercise, career, relationships, and mental/emotional patterns. The goal of a treatment session is to discover which areas need the most attention for you right now, and what are your next steps to improve. These sessions are also the perfect way to help you stay accountable as you progress.
For those interested in deeper emotional and spiritual transformation, treatment sessions are a place for you to talk through what’s happening in your life. To gain a better understanding of how to process difficult emotions and thoughts, it’s important to learn about meditation/prayer or mindfulness practices, and develop a spiritual approach that is best suited to you. These things are often some of the most powerful ways to get to the root cause of stress in your life. When my patients receive acupuncture, they enjoy laying on a massage table in one of the most relaxed states they’ve been in for a long time. Sometimes they fall asleep, and sometimes they allow themselves to use the hour for quiet time to process some of the things that have been running through their minds, and to take a minute and breathe.
Patients often report feeling more calm and serene for a few days after their treatment and tend to sleep well for the next week or so. This is something that needs upkeep, as it’s not a one-time cure-all. It’s beneficial to schedule monthly sessions to combat the stresses and anxieties of everyday life in a natural, affordable way.
Paul Gaucher and Dove Sprout co-own Creston Acupuncture & Natural Health Centre, located at 219 10th Ave N, in Creston. For more information, please call the clinic at 250-428-0488. For further questions about how acupuncture and herbal medicine can help, you can also e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or check out www.acupuncturecrestonbc.com.