It seems everyone is stressed these days. It’s enough that every day life events are stressful, but when there are disturbing events happening all around us like natural disasters, politics around the elections, and hate crimes, our emotions can simply overwhelm us. And guess what, it’s November already, and for some the anticipation of stress during the holiday season can easily send us over the tipping point to a feeling of being out of control. I am seeing more and more people at the clinic for stress related concerns like anxiety, depression, insomnia, digestive issues and a number of other symptoms. You may need time out!
The sympathetic nervous system, which activates the “fight or flight” response, is there to help us defend ourselves and keep ourselves safe. However, our nervous system does not know the difference between hearing about a natural disaster or other news event in another state from one that is happening directly to us. Our nervous systems tend to react the same. And it seems like every day there is something else coming at us that triggers our fight or flight response, so we are on high alert most of the time. Our parasympathetic nervous system – the “rest and relax” part of our nervous system – doesn’t get engaged enough to balance it out. As a result, our body produces too much cortisol over a long period of time and that can cause a host of issues from digestive problems, weight gain and increased blood sugar to pain, depression, and insomnia. Some research even shows that constant stress ages us more quickly.
Acupuncture regulates the nervous system and also regulates the hormones to lessen those “fight or flight” hormones and to release the “feel good” hormones. The use of acupuncture has been scientifically proven to reduce anxiety levels and stress in individuals. Studies have found that acupuncture relieved symptoms such as migraines, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and pain resulting from post traumatic stress. The improvements due to acupuncture were also found to be very rapid, significant, and long lasting. I’ve had patients tell me they are better able to handle stressful situations after having acupuncture treatments.
Finding ways to manage stress so that you are better able to cope when something triggers your fight or flight response is key. I know it’s not always feasible to get to the clinic when this happens, so here are some ways you can manage the stress yourself. Continue reading
Getting the kids back to school can be stressful! Summer break is over and now there’s shopping to do to get the endless list of school supplies and clothing. Homework is back on the table as are stricter bedtimes for the kids. Kids are excited and anxious about what the new year will bring. And if you have more than one child, are sending one off to college, or are a teacher, the stress can be multiplied. It’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Are you wishing for more energy, more focus, less stress and better sleep? You may be saying “I’d be happy to just have one of these.” But really it’s not too much to expect from regular acupuncture treatments.
Research shows that chronic stress can have a cumulative effect on our physical well-being. Our response to stress affects the autonomic nervous system (fight-or-flight/rest-and-restore), as well as our cardiovascular, metabolic and immune systems. Even everyday stressors can have long term consequences especially when combined with a poor diet and reduced exercise. This goes for kids as well as the adults who care for them. Sleep disturbances, headaches, stomach aches and behavior changes like anxiety and depression are common symptoms of stress.
Stress and anxiety are helped by acupuncture as it triggers the production of our natural feel-good hormones and brings the autonomic nervous system back into balance. It acts on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress promoting relaxation and deactivating the “analytical” brain which is responsible for anxiety and worry. This brings you out of “fight or flight” mode so that you can get rest and restore your energy. Also important in the new school year is boosting your immune system to protect you from both the effects of stress and the latest illness that’s going around at school. In addition to the immunity boost, many people have more energy in the hours, days and even weeks after acupuncture treatment. Patients notice improved mental clarity, which is important when exam week comes around, and you are juggling 15 things at once. It helps to strengthen your constitution. Continue reading
If you are finding it hard to arrange your schedule for a Wellness Visit, here are a few tips for helping you to cope until you can come in.
- Leverage coping skills – Whether it’s meditation, breathing exercises, acupuncture, yoga, hiking, biking or another way you relieve stress, begin to manage difficult emotions and associated stress before and during this transition back to school. The idea is to balance mind and body so that you are better able to handle whatever is thrown your way. We also offer Stress Free Tea, based on a Chinese Herbal Formula used to calm stress, anxiety and depression for over 900 years.
- Get into a routine ASAP – Begin to introduce the changes before school starts back. Keeping a regular bedtime and healthy diet, while making time for relaxing playful activities are all helpful to establish a regular routine that can reduce chaos, stress and anxiety.
- Encourage healthy eating – We all know that our diet can affect both our physical and mental health. Highly processed foods that consist of high sugar, soft drinks, and nutrient poor foods can increase anxiety and depression. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and high quality proteins are important for a healthy immune system (which BTW begins in the gut).
Most importantly don’t wait until things are out of control to take action. I hope you find these tips helpful and that you will think of me when you need help.
The heat is on! In Chinese Medicine, Summer is the Fire Season and is related to the heart, blood vessels, Small Intestine and the emotions. The heart is in charge of memory, consciousness, thinking, sleep and speech. It’s not too uncommon when there is an imbalance during the summer that we see symptoms such as anxiety, inflammation, heart palpitations, and insomnia. In nature, it’s easy to see that extreme heat withers and dries plant life, and we too can easily become overheated during the summer months. By practicing these 5 tips you’ll keep your fire in check during the summer.
- Hydrate. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids during the summer, especially if you sweat a lot. If you work outside or sweat profusely, you may also need to add electrolytes. Coconut water (unsweetened), fresh watermelon juice and water with cucumbers added will all help replace electrolytes.
- Eat lightly and simply. Skip the heavy meals and use a few simple ingredients in your meals. Prepare vegetables by steaming or lightly simmering. Our tendency is to go for salads, but don’t overdo it with cold and raw foods because they weaken the digestive system. Visit your local farmers market to see what is in season and focus on including those ingredients in your meals. Look for brightly colored vegetables and fruits. Greens help cleanse the arteries and cools the heart. They also help control anxiety. Try our cooling Cucumber, Watermelon and Mint Salad.
- Sweat a little. A light sweat will help to cool the body and prevent overheating. While it may seem counter-intuitive to eat spicy, pungent foods such as hot peppers, fresh ginger, and horseradish during summer, they will bring body heat to the surface creating sweat, thereby cooling you down. But heavy sweating causes to much fluid loss.
- Go easy on the ice. Iced drinks, ice cream and frozen treats weaken the digestive system, hold in sweat and heat, and contract the stomach inhibiting digestion.
- Slow down. Focus on calming the heart through slow yoga, soft music, breathing exercises and meditation. Relax.
Summer is a time of activity, travel, and play. Enjoy it!