Most of us realise, in ourselves, that stress is the initiator, and accelerator, of many of our signs and symptoms in relation to health. It’s well known as a precursor and a creator of illness. It’s so pervasive and common as an underlying state of being that it’s often overlooked – and understated.
It’s vital for our overall health and wellbeing to rest, relax and have space in our lives to rejuvenate. Quiet time and removing sources of stimulation (and overstimulation) are essential so that you can be, rather than do, all the time. Doing nothing is an important skill, one easily dismissed in our over busy lives, until our body’s and minds finally show symptoms from the lack of it.
Relaxation is medicinal and essential.
We all know this word, stress. But do we know what it actually means?
Generally, it’s referred to as your bodies’ way of responding to any kind of demand. This can be caused by both positive and negative experiences. We all think of stress in negative terms but situations like getting married, moving house, getting a new job, having a baby…. All very positive experiences that also have an immensely stressful impact, physically and emotionally. Negative stress is generally when the demand is greater than your resources to deal with the situation.
It’s also completely subjective and that’s means that not only does it means different things to different people, but we will all respond to ‘stress’ in differing ways. Some of the most common aspects are muscle soreness, headaches, sleep disturbance, and mood affectation (irritability, etc).
Stress can accelerate many aspects of the aging process biologically – in fact cortisol is frequently referred to as the ‘death’ hormone because of this relationship. Chronic, long term stress is the biggest factor increasing heart disease, heart attack, stroke, metabolic disorders, and chronic pain conditions and negatively affecting mental health (anxiety and depression disorders).
A chain reaction of biochemical processes occur, including the production and release of the stress hormones, activation of the sympathetic nervous system, and depression of the immune system. The fact that you get sick after just finishing a stressful project is not a coincidence!
Acupuncture has been proven to reduce glucocorticoid production, specifically cortisol, and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which may enable your body to more successfully deal with the aspects of stress. Acupuncture has been demonstrated to regulate heart rate variability and cardiac rhythm, which are considered to be biomarkers of physiological stress responses. A course of Acupuncture treatment is shown to reduce stress responses.
Sparrow K.,and Golianu, B.,. Does Acupuncture Reduce Stress Over Time? A Clinical Heart Rate Variability Study in Hypertensive Patients, Medical Acupuncture. October 2014, 26(5): 286-294. doi:10.1089/acu.2014.1050 http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acu.2014.1050
Hui KK, Liu J, Marina O, Napadow V, Haselgrove C, et al. (2005) The integrated response of the human cerebro-cerebellar and limbic systems to acupuncture stimulation at ST 36 as evidenced by fMRI. Neuroimage 27: 479-496
Nakahara H, et al. Clin Auton Res. 2016. Electroacupuncture most effectively elicits depressor and bradycardic responses at 1 Hz in humans.
Liang,F, Cooper,E Wang,H Jing,X, Quispe-Cabanillas,J and Kondo,T “Acupuncture and Immunity” http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2015/260620/
Bo Zhu, Yanjie Wang, Guifeng Zhang, Huailiang Ouyang, Jiping Zhang, Yu Zheng, Shaoqun Zhang, Chunxiao Wu, Shanshan Qu, Junqi Chen, Yong Huang, and Tang,C. “Acupuncture at KI3 in healthy volunteers induces specific cortical functional activity: an fMRI study”
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2015; 15: 361. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604759/