It’s fair to say stress and Acupuncture are not natural bed-partners. When Acupuncture moves in, stress moves out!
While anxiety levels are nearly always reported as decreased following Acupuncture treatment, it’s important to acknowledge how invasive and encompassing stress can feel. In fact, prolonged stress in our system can make us question whether we’ll ever find our way to the sunnier side of the street.
Whether you have experienced stress in the past, or are presently stressed, you’ll recognise how acute levels of stress profoundly affect the nervous system. Deep anxiety alters our perceptions, the manner in which we experience the world, our ability to sleep, eat, work and play. As each of us is unique, how our bodies and minds process stress and acute anxiety is also variable. (NHS Choices 2011).
Sadly, work-related stress is rife, a phenomenon affecting up to half a million people in the UK (Health and Safety Executive 2011). Stress levels may be additionally impacted by alcohol, nicotine, pregnancy, bereavement, narcotics use, joblessness, poor eating habits, and general lifestyle. The impact of any one can result in illness, tiredness or lethargy, depression, mood swings, anger, frustration, confusion, paranoid behaviour, jealousy or withdrawal.
Acupuncture flushes out this overloading of toxicity, leaving those treated calmer, happier and more in control.
How Acupuncture Works:
Altering brain mood chemistry, regulating levels of neurotransmitters (or their modulators) and hormones such as serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine, GABA, neuropeptide Y and ACTH, acupuncture works in specific and varied ways on the body, to ‘soften’ or ‘deregulate’ the analytical brain driving the anxiety or worry (Hui 2010; Hui 2009) and increasing AchE reactivity in the hippocampus (Kim 2011). Areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress are also positively affected, while stress-induced memory impairment is improved (Arranz 2007).
Essentially, Acupuncture treatment invites the body to ‘regulate’ and look after itself by activating neurochemical messenger molecules. These ‘messenger molecules’ alter the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, engendering a physical and emotional well-being.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when stressed is to be Kind To Yourself! Think about what would nourish your body and mind. Take regular exercise. Laugh a lot, whether this is putting on a ‘happy’ DVD or comedy show. Brain chemicals are shown to change when laughter takes place. Write down a list of achievements and think about working towards positive goals, rather than focusing on all the things you haven’t done. Breathe deeply and mindfully, aware of how our diaphragm moves as we take in and release our oxygen (this really does make a difference). Finally, stay in the present. Happiness and contentment lies not in the future or the past, but in the ‘now.’ If you can bring a sense of awareness to each action you take, you’ll feel more rooted in what’s happening around you.
Byline: Rebecca Swirsky