How Acupuncture Can Help Holiday Stress

by Dr. Rob Benhuri, D.Ac, Synergy Wellness Center

While the holiday season typically means happy times with food and family, for many this time is full of stress and tension. Acupuncture can help.

What is stress?

Stress is your body’s natural reaction to an external threat, real or imagined.

Thousands of years ago, our ancestors had to deal with predators and lack of food. These situations often required split-second, life-or-death decisions.

We developed something known as the fight-or-flight response. This occurs when a stressor triggers our nervous systems, causing a variety of physical and mental changes. Our heart rates increase and our muscles tense, ready for action. At the same time, non-urgent functions such as digestion are suppressed.

Fast forward to the present day and our bodies react to stress in just the same way.

Stress in Chinese medicine

In acupuncture theory, the connection between the body and mind is very important. There is no distinction between the physical and mental aspects of health; one easily influences the other.

Each of the major organs has various physical and emotional functions, and stress can arise from an imbalance in any of them.

The liver has the important task of circulating qi around the body. For this to happen effectively, muscles need to be loose and relaxed.

If we become stressed, our muscles tend to become tense and tight. This prevents the liver from doing its job properly. Qi gets stuck in the channels.

Called “liver qi stagnation,” this is one of the most common problems acupuncturists encounter daily. Liver qi stagnation can cause other symptoms including depression, headaches and digestive problems.

Acupuncture for stress

Acupuncture can relax the muscles and soothe the liver, allowing for the free flow of qi. Specific acupuncture points can be added to help deal with such individual symptoms as headaches or digestive problems.

The main advantage of acupuncture is that it treats each patient in a unique way, depending on individual need.

Acupuncture also can trigger the release of chemicals called endorphins. These work in a similar way to opioids like morphine. They help reduce pain and bring about a sense of general well-being. However, unlike opioids, they do not cause dangerous side effects.

Finally, acupuncture can help to regulate the nervous system. It modulates the release of certain neurotransmitters to improve mood and enhance emotional balance.

Put it all together and you may have a happy, healthy holiday season!