Stress Stress is mostly used to describe the feelings that people experience when the demands made on them are greater than their ability to cope. During these times people can feel overwhelmed, under tremendous pressure and very tense or emotional. Stress can affects everyone of all ages and is a completely normal reaction that all human beings will experience from time to time when faced with certain situations and complications of day to day life. It is when this feeling of stress is prolonged and left untreated that we begin to see it having a negative impact on our health and lifestyle.
Stress can be triggered by many different things including financial worries, chronic illness, exams, pregnancy, divorce, moving, death in family, lifestyle, drugs, poor nutrition and unemployment. The workplace is thought to be one of the key factors in stress. A study by the International Stress Management Association found that more than half of people in work had suffered with some sort of stress over time period of a year. Further, other studies have found that 25% of the national workforce had taken sick days due to stress and that stress is the leading cause of sick leave. Common causes of stress in the work place include; workloads, long hours, responsibilities, role expectations, bullying or harassment, lack of job security, poor working environment, the organisational structure, career development and lack of support.
The signs and symptoms of stress and how it manifests can vary greatly from person to person. It can manifest physically such as:
Tiredness or lethargy
Sore, tight muscles
Lank hair and hair loss
Insomnia and erratic sleep patterns
PMS and irregular periods
Mental stress can result in :
Withdrawal from society
When under stress, the body responds by producing adrenalin, cortisol, and other chemicals, regardless of whether the perceived or experienced stress is psychological or physical. The stress response or fight-or-flight is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival and is essential to our survival.
However, when someone is stressed over a long period, these substances can have serious implications his or her health, including: sleep disruption, chronic headaches, hormone disruption, gastrointestinal distress, weight gain, immune system impairment, cardiovascular impacts, and psychological disturbances. In the long term, stress damages the body’s systems, reduces its ability to cope with disease, and impairs brain function and mental health.
Stress is a common complaint cited by acupuncture patients, with a variety of possible associated symptoms. Patients often complain about the affect stress has on their digestive health, bringing about symptoms such as IBS, how it causes tension in their muscles - usually around the shoulders, and how it affects their mental well-being. However, the most commonly associated symptom is anxiety.
From a traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, stress affects the free flow of Qi within the body, resulting in stagnation along acupuncture channels, excessive internal Heat and poor Blood circulation. Excessive and prolonged stress may impede the delicate balance in our body and trigger severe health problems. In short, the body is no longer in balance and the systems struggle to work effectively, hence the symptoms of stress come about.
In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body's homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being. On an energetic level, the insertion of the needles stimulates the free flow of Qi, restoring the natural balance of the body. During a treatment patients are able to deeply relax, enabling them to forget their stress if only for that 45 minutes. We try to prolong that time by suggesting life style changes and techniques to cope with the stresses they face.
"I first went to the clinic 12 months ago, at the time I had a frozen shoulder. I had never received acupuncture before. The clinic is a beautiful building, and once inside you feel at ease. I was greeted by Rachel, who is very professional and friendly. We discussed my current situation and Rachel informed me of what area of my body would be beneficial to work on and what will occur in the session. After my first session, my body felt amazing, not just physically but mentally calmer as well, as if someone had just drained all the stress from my mind. I continued to go for sessions on my shoulder, which now feels brand new. Since then Rachel has supported me with having treatment for fibroids/polycystic ovaries and a sprained ankle. Acupuncture is not just for when your body appears to be injured or have a problem; I now go every two weeks as it realigns the body and the mind and I always leave feeling stress-free and happier. I would highly recommend having acupuncture with Rachel; it has changed my life." - Katie-Anne, York