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.
Fluttering sensations in your belly.
A dropping feeling in your upper body.
Sensations like pressure in your chest.
Clenched teeth, fists, and shoulders.
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.
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).
The point is nicknamed happy calm
Another type of research aims to understand mechanisms, such as biological markers of nervous system activity. Researchers found that acupuncture can reduce blood pressure during an acute stress response (3). Another article suggested that acupuncture decreases stress-related nervous system activity (4).
Zero Balancing and the stress response
Have you ever been so afraid you were literally trembling? How old were you when this happened? Chances are, you were under the age of 25. This response is a normal part of being an animal with a stress response, but neurotypical adult humans tend not to allow this process to occur. Rather than letting our stresses shake themselves out, we store the trauma in our bodies and in our bones so we can “keep our composure.” It’s not uncommon for people to experience this sort of shaking on the table during Zero Balancing, and then to feel tired but profoundly relaxed. This is believed to be a direct result of Zero Balancing releasing that held stress from the body to be integrated (5). Rather than holding the stress indefinitely, we finally feel we integrate our experience.
How many stresses are you holding in your body? Might they be emerging as involuntary eye twitches, restless leg, headaches, and jaw clenching? What would it be like to just let them go?
You can read more about how Zero Balancing can help with stress and trauma responses in “Experiencing the Power of Zero Balancing: Case Studies of Journeys to Health and Wholeness,” available as an E-book here.
Schedule an appointment now to decrease your stress response!
Click here to schedule an appointment! New patients should schedule a virtual consultation first, so we can discuss your goals and how best to proceed together. Existing patients can schedule however they prefer.