Acupuncture and Anxiety and Stress: How TCM Can Ease Your Mind
Most of us don’t realize the impact the past year has had on our bodies. With our focus on surviving a global pandemic, our mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing naturally took a backseat.
Beyond a pandemic, everyday life and unexpected events can cause high levels of stress and anxiety that seem unbearable. Many of us are in search of holistic ways to regain focus, center our emotions, and release stress.
Let’s talk about the causes of anxiety, how you can help improve it naturally, and how acupuncture can help.
What Causes Anxiety?
Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. How we handle it is extremely important to ensuring our quality of life while we’re going through high stress situations and seasons.
Here are some of the main reasons we can experience periods of anxiety.
Financial insecurity and anxiety can have a significant toll on your quality of life, and cause you to become resentful and bitter toward your job, your loved ones, or even financial institutions. When anxiety surrounds finances, having more cash flow isn’t always a solution.
Financial education and learning how to better appropriate your cash flow is often a more workable solution than simply earning more.
Dealing with loss is a part of life, but even when a death is foreshadowed by a long battle with disease or simply by an aging body, those left behind are rarely prepared to deal with it.
Experiencing the death of a loved one can significantly increase your stress levels and have a profound impact on every aspect of your life.
It’s necessary for most everyone to work, but when your job is stressful or you find yourself in a position you don’t like, it can create crippling anxiety. Fear of going to work, ending up in the same job forever, or losing your position can disrupt your work/life balance and make doing your job nearly impossible.
Mental Health Disorders
While some anxiety is situational (grief, failed relationships, etc.) some anxiety is experienced due to mental health disorders.
There are five different types of anxiety related mental health disorders:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
While you should seek professional help for these disorders, there are methods of holistic medicine that can also work alongside professional help to give you relief.
We know we don’t operate at our best when we don’t eat a balanced diet. A poor diet can deplete your energy, negatively impact your health, and place you in an unbalanced mental state where you are more susceptible to feelings of stress and worry.
Lack of Sleep
Burning the candle at both ends may have worked while you were in college, but continuous lack of sleep has a cumulative effect on your mental state. Skipping sleep or not getting enough quality sleep is directly related to increased feelings of sadness, stress, and worry.
How Can I Manage Anxiety Naturally?
There are numerous options available to help you manage anxiety naturally alongside clinical methods like therapy and medication. Incorporating these into your daily routine can help you feel more relaxed.
We know exercise is good for the body, but it’s also a great way to alleviate stress and melt away worry. Exercise releases endorphins which help you feel better. It’s benefit to your entire body makes it a wonderful way to manage stress and help build a healthy lifestyle.
Cut Out Caffeine
Like most people, you might find yourself addicted to your morning latte (and afternoon espresso, 3:00 p.m. energy drink, and so on). It’s important to be productive, but our productivity has made us highly dependent on massive amounts of caffeine.
Caffeine is a stimulant that can cause heart palpitations, nervousness, and dizziness when taken in excess. When you find yourself dealing with stress, switch to decaf or green tea.
Sometimes sleep takes a backseat to activities we deem more important. However, getting adequate sleep can significantly reduce stress levels and help you feel empowered to face difficult situations.
Aim to get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Need help sleeping? There are plenty of natural sleeping aids that can help.
If you aren’t eating properly, begin to do so. If you are experiencing such a high level of anxiety that eating is difficult, make sure you are taking supplements to help support your body and mood.
Attempt to eat smaller meals more frequently to make sure you get enough vitamins and nutrients in your diet.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
A holistic approach to health and wellness, TCM offers numerous ways to help you manage anxiety and get relief fast.
What Is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
TCM has been used for thousands of years. Unlike westernized medicine which focuses on healing the body of specific diseases, TCM focuses on restoring and healing the body by focusing on the overall wellness of the entire body.
There are several different components of TCM.
A TCM diet consists of eating locally grown, organic foods that are in season. It also involves eating a variety of different colors, tastes, and textures.
In TCM, food is often used medicinally. Foods are divided into “temperatures” that involve how they affect the body.
The use of herbal therapy is at the core of TCM. Herbs are used to help restore balance to the body, support wellness, and help relieve stress.
Meditation is central to TCM for restoring the mind and bringing awareness to the present. At its core, it is the practice of resting the mind from thoughts and restoring mental clarity and peace. If the mind is not able to rest, the body will not be at peace.
TCM believes that light to moderate exercise is beneficial to the Qi (the very life force of any being), but that strenuous exercise should be avoided. Strenuous exercise is said to deplete the Qi and also have an impact on the quality of blood.
Also used to help balance the Qi, massage helps balance the body and relax the mind. It can help dissolve feelings of anxiousness and rid the body of toxins.
Used for centuries, acupuncture is a large branch of TCM that helps balance Qi and provide relief for numerous health and wellness concerns.
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the process of inserting small, thin needles into the skin. These needles are inserted into various points in the body to stimulate a physiological response.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
During an acupuncture treatment, a practitioner will insert needles into your skin based on the symptoms you are experiencing. There are 2,000 acupuncture points on the body, which are all joined by meridians, or channels that allow the flow of Qi from the internal organs and external body.
Needles remain in place for up to twenty minutes before removal and end of the treatment.
Is Acupuncture Good for Anxiety and Stress?
Science supports the use of acupuncture to alleviate anxiety and stress. Numerous studies conducted on patients using acupuncture for anxiety relief have had positive outcomes. In fact, anxiety is one of the top concerns that acupuncture treats.
Acupuncture helps balance hormones, improve mental stability, boost overall mood, and treat anxiety and depression disorders.
How Do I Know If Acupuncture Is Working?
Acupuncture does not typically provide immediate results, although it can. Normally, results are cumulative and build from treatment to treatment. You may begin to notice results after two to three treatment sessions.
Here’s how you can know it’s working.
Your quality of sleep improving is one of the first signs your treatments are working. Whether you find yourself better able to fall asleep, stay asleep, or sleep deeper, an improvement in sleep is a sign of acupuncture progress.
Acupuncture helps to balance and restore Qi, which can help you feel more energized. Feelings of lethargy and difficulty “waking up” in the morning may dissipate, letting you know your treatments are helping.
Often, our anxiety and stress manifest in physical ways that can leave us feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and irregular. Acupuncture helps restore balance and soothe nerves, promoting better digestion and increased regularity.
Finally, you will know your acupuncture treatments are working when you feel relief from stress. Relief comes gradually, and you will likely begin to notice after two to three treatments that you are better able to face situations that used to feel overwhelming.
Your entire outlook on life will shift, and you will feel less feelings of intense agitation, irritability, and worry.
Anxiety and stress are parts of life everyone experiences. Looking for relief from traditional Chinese medicinal practices like acupuncture can help give you relief gently and holistically.