Everyone will suffer from stress at some point in their lives. But the signs and symptoms of stress differ for every individual, and can range from basic to chronic. Chronic stress can have major repercussions both physically and mentally， resulting in mental illness, cardiovascular disease, obesity and eating disorders, menstrual problems, gastrointestinal problems, and/or skin and nail disorders. But understanding and getting stress relief are possible.
Symptoms of stress include:
- Low energy
- Upset stomach, including diarrhoea, constipation and nausea
- Pain, aching or tension in muscles
- Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
- Frequent illness, such as colds or infections
- Nervousness or shaking
- Cold or sweaty hands and feet
- Clenched jaw and/or grinding teeth
- Loss of sexual desire/function
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
- Trouble relaxing, constant worrying and racing thoughts
- Feeling easily frustrated, agitated or moody
- Experiencing low self-esteem or feeling lonely, worthless or depressed
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Forgetfulness and disorganisation/inability to focus
- Poor judgment
- Either loss or increase of appetite
- Increase in nervous behaviours （nail biting, pacing, fidgeting, ）
Western Medicine explanation
Stress in western medicine is related to the sympathetic and parasympathetic functions in the central nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is colloquially referred to as the “fight or flight” mode and sends signals to different areas of the body to prepare for attack or other stressful situations. The parasympathetic nervous system is the opposite, the “rest and digest” mode that sends signals to the same areas to calm down, relax and commence operating as usual. Stress occurs when the sympathetic/fight or flight system is unable to shut off, or overreacts, and the parasympathetic/rest and digest system doesn’t get a chance to do its job.
The best scientific way to tell if you are stressed is through Heart Rate Variability, which measures the variations of heart rates in between heartbeats. HRV levels have been scientifically linked with stress, so that if HRV is low, you are stressed and more likely to suffer from the above-mentioned symptoms. Similarly, high HRV is associated with reduced stress, even emotions, better performance and function in general.
Even in western medicine acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been connected with fighting stress. Studies have proven that acupuncture can increase HRV and therefore improve the health of the central nervous system, reducing stress.
The TCM perspective
Stress is one of the main causes for energy or “qi” blockages in TCM. In TCM theory each emotion is connected with a specific organ. The main categories include: anger/liver, joy/heart, obsession/spleen, sadness/lungs, and fear/kidney. Stress is most often linked with qi stagnation in the liver, resulting in repressed feelings and an increase in anxiety. However, because everyone is different and experiences stress uniquely, the best way to treat stress is by looking at your symptoms with a Chinese Medical Practitioner and deducing where the blockage is.
Stress Relief Options
Acupuncture will clear your energy, boost blood circulation, oxygenate tissues, and increase endorphins while decreasing cortisol (the stress hormone). Many people who received acupuncture treatments will have lower blood pressure, better sleeping at night and overall more energy， which contributes to less stress.
Other things that can be done include changing your diet. In Chinese medicine coloured fruits and vegetables are good for fighting stress. These fruits and vegetables (such as eggplant, purple cabbages, tomatoes, broccoli, avocado, leafy greens, apricots, and berries) contain Vitamin B which is known to help fight stress.
Exercising will also help the body (and mind) deal with stress. It is important, however, to find the type of exercise that works best for you, whether it is walking, yoga, or something more intense. By exercising regularly you increase endorphin levels and have your body operating more efficiently.
Lastly, massage is a great way of fighting off stress as it is also a relaxing experience that works deep on the body to clear blockages, relax muscles, and release more serotonin and dopamine;therefore decreasing stress. In fact, clinical studies show that even a single 1 ½-hour session can significantly lower your heart rate, cortisol levels and insulin levels.
Both our acupuncturist，Jane Ma， and our massage therapist， Shannon Radke，are trained and talented in recognising and treating stress. They will not only having you feeling good in no time， but also can address other issues going on in your body you might not realise are exaserbating your stress， or even know exist at all！Also， in addition to their treatments，both Jane and Shannon can create for you a tailored diet and exercise/stretching routine to help maximise your health and happiness.
If you are interested in finding out more，or would like to book your appointment with us at AcuNatural Health please call us on （07） 3162 6888 or email us at [email protected]
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