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Acupuncture being performed on shoulder

One of the most common complaints I hear from clients is how stressed they are. This is true for people coming in for all sorts of reasons, often not even related to those stresses!

It seems that our lives are now so full that we are living in a state of low level (and sometimes a high level) “fight or flight”. We are always focused on what is right in front of us, and therefore long term priorities fall to the backburner. 

This is sometimes referred to as being “sympathetic dominant,” but in Chinese Medicine, we think of this as stagnation. As we continually incur ongoing stresses, bodily energy gathers up, waiting in the ready for some kind of action. In this gathering mode, though, it is stagnant—not moving freely as it normally would, to be used as needed by various bodily functions. 

This response can be natural and good: if you are about to run a race, give a presentation at work, or have an altercation with a sabre tooth-tiger. If it becomes too constant, however, the de-prioritized functions will start to weaken, or even crash.

This can lead to other kinds of health complications, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia and poor sleep
  • Digestion problems
  • Tension and body pain
  • Headaches
  • Women’s health issues (such as menstrual disorders or menopause symptoms)
  • Acne and other skin problems

While it is clear that constant stress can have far reaching negative effects, most of us cannot weed every bit of difficulty or jaggedness out of our lives. Work, family, money: these have stressors built-in. The solution, then, lies not in changing the stressful input, but in managing bodily reactions better. In order to become less reactive to stress, in order to manage stress-related symptoms, the body must switch over from the sympathetic “fight or flight” to the parasympathetic “feed and breed” (also known as “rest and digest”) mode. I often think of this state as the “healing mode.” In Chinese Medicine we understand this state as one where stagnant energy is unblocked, so that it can circulate smoothly through the body. When energy is regulated and moving well, it is optimal for self-repair.

Acupuncture is a particularly effective to help manage stress and help reduce reactivity because it can provide short-term symptomatic relief, and also be used preventatively to manage stress, anxiety and all the related issues. 

Acupuncture can help you take control of your health and keep anxiety at bay—allowing you to rest, relax and heal. With regular acupuncture treatments, you can retrain the negative patterns caused by acute and chronic stress, and start addressing problems at their root.


August 15th, 2019

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