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Acupuncture for Stress Reduction

Acupuncture for Stress Reduction by Grace Ganel, L.Ac.. Dipl.Ac., C.Z.B.

No joke, I have an item in the “URGENT” section of my to do list that simply says, “Reduce Stress.” It lives there. I never check it off. Every day it simultaneously taunts me and reminds me of what’s really important. My day-to-day stress reduction strategies include time with friends, movement such as walking or dancing or qigong, getting adequate rest, and eating well (and sometimes eating less well, for the fun of eating tasty things. Sometimes you just want a cookie, and that's OK). I also receive acupuncture for stress reduction and wellbeing every other week year-round.

There’s no one-and-done way to reduce stress. In middle school health class, many of us learned that there’s distress and eustress. Distress is “bad stress,” like having a fight with a friend or loved one. Eustress is “good stress” like getting married or getting a new job. “But,” our health teacher warned, “it’s all still stressful! The way our bodies react to all of these events, the good and the bad, is similar!”

The Stress Response

Imagine a stressful situation (or, you know, turn on the news right now). Notice what happens in your body.

  • Sweaty palms.

  • Fluttering sensations in your belly.

  • A dropping feeling in your upper body.

  • Sensations like pressure in your chest.

  • Clenched teeth, fists, and shoulders.

  • Poor appetite.

  • Racing heart.

  • Racing thoughts.

These are responses programmed by the nervous system for when we must rise to the occasion and deal with a threat or with any situation which might need us to give our all.

More and more, allopathic medicine is beginning to understand how prolonged stresses of all kinds negatively impact people’s health, whether mentally or physically. Allopathic medicine even has some ideas about how to reduce stress, including lifestyle modifications and medications to quiet these nervous system responses.

More and more, people are having stress-related illnesses this year. In my practice, sinus infections and colds are less common, but tension and migraine headaches, insomnia, and jaw pain are on the rise.

Before you get hooked on substances that reduce stress-related nervous system activity, or painkillers, why not try acupuncture and zero balancing?

Research supports using acupuncture for stress reduction

The research on acupuncture and the stress response is still ongoing. Some research focuses on outcomes, such as patients’ symptoms Researchers found that acupuncture is associated with decreased anxiety and improved quality of life among healthcare workers (1). Another study suggested acupuncture can decrease symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in adults who experienced traumatic events as children (2).