Sources of stress can appear endless. Our new normal state of always being available and “on-call” is stressful, but leave your phone at home and the mind goes crazy with what it could be missing or that friends, family and even work can get worried that they can’t get in touch with you right away. The truth is, stress is unavoidable. Stress can enter our lives in many forms.
There are the classic examples of stress:
As well as daily stressors including:
dealing with aches and pains,
feeding yourself and family.
Stress sources can even be trendy:
FOMO (fear of missing out)
making sure you see the latest Game of Thrones ASAP to avoid spoilers.
Poor stress management is often a complaint for patients at Jade, and it prompts some great conversations about how stress impacts the body, and how acupuncture may help. Needles can't help stressors disappear. Even if they could, a new stressor would pop into its place. What acupuncture can do is look at how stress impacts the body and be proactive about our emotional and physical responses to it.
Manifestations of stress include increased headaches, an increase in pain, irritability, poor digestion, and tight muscles. These symptoms are a sign of qi blockage in the body. With acupuncture, our approach would be to unblock the affected channels and release the tight muscles. When a muscle is tight, or in spasm, it blocks blood flow locally and inhibits complete circulation of nutrients throughout the whole body. This causes the body to be in imbalance and can make one more vulnerable to injury or poor body mechanics.
In addition, stress often has negative impacts on our lifestyle choices which only exacerbate the other symptoms. For example, when I feel stressed I am tempted to just order take out, and/or skip a workout to save myself time. But that time I "save" isn't better spent cranking out one last patient note. It would be better spent cooking and eating something healthy to refuel or moving my body to ease aches or tension. Otherwise, that one extra box off my to-do list can continue to drain my body and keep me on the hamster wheel of fight or flight reactions.
So next time you think, I am too stressed to keep my appointment, meditate, be creative or exercise, think again. The best thing you can do for yourself is to stop the cycle of stress and choose activities that get you back to a healthier you - whether that's dancing, having acupuncture, practicing yoga, or simply sitting in the sun. Then, when you go back to that to-do list, you'll have the capacity and energy to tackle what is on it.