An extensive study carried out by Bupa revealed that not only do 1 in 4 of us constantly feel symptoms of stress, a whopping (and growing) 44% are constantly and severely stressed out.
Most people know that acupuncture involves needles and that it's effective in relieving and preventing symptoms of physical pains, like carpal tunnel syndrome or a sore back. However, here are the reasons why you need to try this traditional Chinese medicine practice if you're dealing with major loads of stress in your life and need to re-balance your mind, body and soul.
How acupuncture can ease stress and anxiety
1. Acupuncture helps balance the energy in your body
In Chinese medicine we view stress as energy, or what we call Qi, that has got stuck or become stagnant in the body. This can cause emotional or physical stress like mood swings and irritability or tight neck and shoulders. For optimum health, the movement of Qi energy in the body should be naturally free flowing throughout all the meridian channels or energy pathways, from the top of the head to the tips of the toes. Acupuncture works by using ultra fine needles, the thickness of a human hair, to actively move Qi in the channels, tackling what we view as a root cause of stress.
2. It gives you 'happy hormones'
In scientific terms, acupuncture has been shown to stimulate the release of endorphins and oxytocin. Endorphins are the happy hormones that get released with exercise, and oxytocin is the calm and contented hormone, that is often associated with breastfeeding mothers. This leads to a biochemical reduction in stress levels, and is why acupuncture is so relaxing and makes patients feel so good!
3. A single session allows you to open up and reflect on your lifestyle
Discussing what has been going on emotionally, physically and mentally in the clients' lives is very important. Not only does it help inform the practitioner of exactly which acupuncture points are needed for that session, it also helps lower their stress levels with the old adage, "a problem shared is a problem halved”.
4. Chinese Food Energetics
During an acupuncture session, your acupuncturist is likely to offer various lifestyle and dietary changes that complement your treatment. The way we view food is via the impact it has on the internal energy of the body, what properties the food has and what it does. According to Chinese Food Energetics, or Chinese Dietary Therapy, green tea helps to move Qi in the body, making it the perfect drink to reach for when you feel stressed or that your anxiety levels are starting to rise.
5. Acupuncture helps balance and regulate your emotions
In Chinese Medicine, our emotions can be a huge cause of illness or imbalance in our bodies. Anxiety, fear, worry, frustration or anger can prevent the smooth flow of Qi energy in the body. This creates stagnation in the channels, or depletion of the body’s overall energy, ultimately causing stress levels to skyrocket. Needling different acupuncture points helps to stabilise and regulate our emotions, restoring flow and giving emotional support to reduce stress.
6. Acupuncture is relaxing
Contrary to popular belief, acupuncture is not scary and painful. It's actually an incredibly relaxing experience, during which many patients actually fall asleep on the treatment couch whilst the needles are in! Since the acupuncture session itself is de-stressing, your relaxation continues sat home as you've rebalanced your system on a deeper level. In Chinese Medicine we view acupuncture as harmonising Qi within the energy pathways of the body, restoring balance, health and wellbeing.
7. The Four Gates
The number one de-stressing point combination in acupuncture is called, the 'Four Gates'. It combines LI 4, found in the fleshy webbing between the thumb and forefinger, with Liv 3 on the foot, over the knuckle between the big toe and the second toe. This combination strongly moves the Qi in the body, calming the system physically and mentally. These can also be massaged at home as a form of acupressure to de-stress, but should be avoided during pregnancy.
8. It gives you an energy boost
Sometimes we can feel stressed out when we're exhausted and overwhelmed. This feels very different to the frustrated or snappy energy that we often think of with the word, 'stress'. Acupuncture can help support and nourish the body, by using points that boost up energy levels, such as St 36 – just below the outer side of the knee, thereby reducing this specific feeling. Eating blood-nourishing foods according to Chinese Food Energetics will also help here. Add foods like beetroot, beef, spinach, eggs, apricots, figs and kale in your diet for an extra boost.
9. Acupuncture is always a bespoke treatment
Traditional acupuncture is a holistic practice that treats YOU as you – as an individual, whole person. You may have a group of people all claiming to be 'stressed out', but the acupuncture points chosen for each person might be completely different, depending on what's going on in their lives, the symptoms that present themselves, or which of the Chinese Five Elements they are. This bespoke de-stressing is one of the key reasons acupuncture is so effective at combating stress – it’s not a 'one-size fits all' approach.
10. Get some 'me' time
An average acupuncture session runs between 45 minutes and 1 hour. Take this time to stop, relax, and focus purely on yourself – how often do we get that in our daily routines? Patients often say that just knowing they have acupuncture booked into their diaries is enough to help their stress levels. Knowing that there's a support system in place helps you de-stress physically and emotionally in itself.
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