As a normal part of life, stress enables us to get things done. If left unmanaged, stress can lead to emotional, psychological, and even physical problems. Stress causes a disruption in the flow of vital energy, or Qi, through the body. These energetic imbalances can throw off the immune system or cause symptoms of pain, sleep disturbances, abnormal digestion, headaches, menstrual irregularities, aggravation of already troublesome health conditions and, over time, more serious illnesses can develop.
Stressful situations that last over a long period of time can create an ongoing low-level stress that puts continual pressure on the nervous system, increasing activity, and can cause the overproduction of hormones. The extra stress hormones over an extended period of time may wear out the body's reserves, lead to fatigue, depression, a weakened immune system, and a host of serious physical and psychological ailments.
Some signs of stress overload include:
- anxiety or panic attacks
- feelings of constant pressure, hassled and hurried
- irritability and moodiness
- physical symptoms such as stomach problems, headaches, or even chest pain
- allergic reactions, such as eczema or asthma
- problems sleeping
- overindulgence in food, alcohol, smoking, or drugs
- sadness or depression
Stress is often the cause of illness and the deterioration of health. Finding a release valve for your stress can help you stay healthy. According to Oriental medicine, stress, frustration, and unresolved anger can play an important part in throwing the immune system off and allowing pathogens to affect the body. Through acupuncture, these energy blockages can be addressed. Acupuncture points can help energy flow smoothly, and alleviate not only the symptoms of stress and anxiety, but the stress and anxiety itself.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the substantial benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of stress. Acupuncture improves circulation of blood throughout the body, which oxygenates the tissues and cycles out cortisol and other waste chemicals. The calming nature of acupuncture also decreases heart rate, lowers blood pressure and relaxes the muscles.
In addition to acupuncture, Oriental medicine offers a wide range of tools and techniques that can be integrated into your wellness plan to keep stress in check. These tools include Tui Na, Qi Gong exercises, dietary therapy, meditations and acupressure that you can administer at home.
While it isn't always possible to remove the external forces causing stress, the ability to effectively deal with stress is a choice. Take time for yourself to cultivate the energy you need to handle your stress more skillfully and effectively.