What is stress?
Stress is when your body goes into a “fight-or-flight” response due to demand or threat. It can be experienced from an external source such as our environment or internally from our thoughts. Stress correlates with our sympathetic nervous system (SNS). In acute stress the triggered SNS causes increase in heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate and muscle tension. When people experience stress for a prolong period of time it becomes chronic stress, which can contribute to cardiovascular disease and mental health issues.
How can acupuncture reduce stress?
- The autonomic nervous system is split into 2 major divisions. One of them is what we mentioned above as the sympathetic nervous system, the other is our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS is responsible for “rest and digestion”. It helps to decrease heart rate and blood pressure, increases intestinal activity, and helps with urination and defecation. Specific acupuncture points can stimulate the PNS to help the body relax and down-regulate the SNS to reduce stress
- Acupuncture can also stimulate endorphin release in our body. Endorphins acts on receptors in our brain that help reduce pain and boost pleasure. Endorphins gives us a general feeling of well-being much like the euphoric feeling known as a “runner’s high” after exercise. Endorphins can also improve your ability to sleep which correlates with reduction in stress. Research has shown elevated endorphin level remains 24 hours after an acupuncture session.
What else helps release endorphins and reduce stress?
- Exercise >30 minutes
- Massage therapy
- Smiling or laughing
- Taking a hot bath
- Aromatherapy with Lavender or citrus fragrances
- Dark Chocolate and/or Wine