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  • Writer's pictureAna M Toriello, AP, DOM

7 Ways Acupuncture Can Relieve Chronic Stress

Stress Relief in Fort Lauderdale

Many people assume that living in South Florida is like being on a permanent vacation. Warm weather, sunny beaches, and a party atmosphere can create a misconception that everyone who lives here has a stress-free life. However, stress from our jobs, traffic, finances, and personal lives is something many Fort Lauderdale residents struggle with.

Stress Relief in Fort Lauderdale

The effects of chronic stress can lead to numerous physical and mental health issues if not dealt with. Finding ways to relieve and deal with stress is key for living a long, happy, and healthy life. Residents of Fort Lauderdale can relieve stress through lifestyle changes, medications, behavioral health therapy, and holistic methods such as acupuncture, meditation, and massage.

Symptoms of Chronic Stress

Chronic stress includes physical, behavioral, emotional, and cognitive symptoms. However, not all four of these categories will show up in one person. An individual who is showing three to five of these symptoms for several weeks may be suffering from chronic stress, which can include:

  • Insomnia or dream-disturbed sleep

  • Fatigue

  • Aches and pains

  • Unfocused or cloudy thinking

  • Changes in appetite

  • Emotional withdrawal

  • Increased alcohol or drug use

  • Mood swings

  • Changes to social behavior, such as staying in more often

6 Health Effects of Chronic Stress

Chronic stress is the sense of feeling pressured and overwhelmed over a long period of time. Our bodies react to physical and mental strain by activating the sympathetic nervous system, in turn activating the adrenal glands. Once the perceived threat is over, our parasympathetic nervous system facilitates recovery of the body. When stress is prolonged, the sympathetic nervous system continues to be activated without the normal counteraction of the parasympathetic nervous system. This imbalance to the nervous system can lead to several long-term health effects including:

  1. Muscle Tension and Pain. Chronic stress causes the muscles in the body to be in a constant state of tenseness, leading to various aches and pains including tension headaches, low back pain, and even TMJ.

  2. Mental Health Issues. The effects of stress on the nervous system can negatively affect how the brain functions, leading to an increased risk of mental health problems including anxiety, depression, substance use problems, sleep issues, and mood swings.

  3. Digestive Problems. During periods of stress, the liver produces extra blood sugar to keep up with energy demands. Chronic stress can cause your body to be in a constant glucose surge which can lead to developing type 2 diabetes and weight gain. The constant rush of hormones from stress also causes numerous digestive issues including heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, stomachache, and an increased risk of ulcers from H. pylori bacteria.

  4. Cardiovascular Disease. Under stress, the heart pumps faster and blood vessels constrict, causing your heart to work harder for longer periods of time. Rise in blood pressure can increase your risk for developing cardiovascular disease such as heart attack and stroke.

  5. Weakened Immune System. Over time, constant stress can weaken your immune system, leaving people more susceptible to viral illness such as the flu and cold, as well as slow healing wounds. Stress can also cause slower recovery from illness or injury.

  6. Hormonal, Reproductive and Sexuality Issues. Long term stress can affect normal hormonal levels in both men and women, leading to various issues. Men’s testosterone levels can begin to drop causing low sperm count and erectile dysfunction. For women, stress can affect the menstrual cycle leading to irregular, heavier, or more painful periods, as well as decreased fertility. Chronic stress can also magnify menopausal symptoms.

How Can I Reduce My Stress Levels?

Stressful events are inevitable. However, individuals can change how their body reacts to stressful situations through several stress management strategies. Learning to identify what causes you stress and taking care of yourself physically and mentally can be great first steps to reducing your stress levels.

Taking care of your body through regular exercise, keeping a balanced diet, and limiting alcohol and stimulants can help your body regulate its reaction to stress. Exercise especially releases stress-relieving hormones and can help you sleep better as well. Eating unprocessed foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and organic proteins are essential for maintaining your brain chemistry in check. While drugs or alcohol may reduce stress momentarily, they can actually worsen mental health issues and even lead to a substance use disorder.

Managing your time by prioritizing activities is a great way to minimize stress. Creating a day-to-day schedule or a to-do list can keep you organized and reduce feeling overwhelmed. It is also important to set time for yourself for relaxation, self-care, and hobbies.

Seeking out behavioral health therapy can also help you manage your stress. Talking to a therapist can be a great way to vent and they can offer techniques to manage negative emotions in a healthier manner. Holistic methods such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage, and meditation are also helpful in helping your body to naturally heal and reduce stress. Try this 8 minute Qi Gong video for stress relief.

7 Ways Acupuncture Relieves Stress

  1. Releases Endorphins and Other Feel-Good Hormones. Tiny, sterile, single-use acupuncture needles are placed throughout the body which can help the body release endorphins, serotonin, and other stress-reducing hormones. This is why people feel a sense of peace and calm after an acupuncture session.

  2. Provides Quiet, Relaxation Time. Most individuals are constantly on the go and find it difficult to take time in their day to do nothing. An acupuncture session lasts around 45 minutes to an hour, forcing you to disconnect from everything and take that time to relax. Being in this peaceful, quiet, unstimulated time helps the body to be a relaxed state.

  3. Allows You to Set Time for Self-Care. Scheduling an acupuncture appointment allows you to put focus on yourself and disconnect from the outside world. Maintaining a consistent treatment schedule helps you to make time for yourself and re-prioritize stress habits.

  4. Relieves Muscle Tension. The same mechanism that helps to release feel-good hormones, can help your whole body relax. People can experience muscle tension relief during treatment and long after, which can help reduce stress levels.

  5. Calms the Nervous System. Acupuncture acts on the central nervous system, activating the parasympathetic nervous system (the part that calms us down from stress). Individuals may find their bodies can activate these systems more easily when faced with stressors with continued treatment.

  6. Restores the Proper Flow of Qi. Qi (pronounced chee) can be thought of as fundamental “life energy”. When our Qi is not flowing smoothly, it can lead to numerous issues, including irritability, anxiety, and depression. Acupuncture helps to restore this smooth flow of Qi, sort of like undoing a kink in a hose.

  7. Acupuncture Can Get to the Root of Your Stress. All acupuncture treatments are personalized and aim to get to the root of your issue for long-term relief. While you will feel immediate effects of relaxation during an acupuncture session, it will also aim to heal the root cause of stress for long-term effects.

Acupuncture for Stress Relief in Fort Lauderdale

Acupuncture for Stress Relief in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Toriello Acupuncture, located in Fort Lauderdale, FL, offers personalized, all-inclusive holistic medicine sessions which can include acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, health coaching, and more. Dr. Ana Toriello will create an individualized treatment plan based on your initial intake which includes thoroughly going through your symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle. Through traditional Five Element Acupuncture in Fort Lauderdale, you can find long-term relief from stress and be able to manage stress related events more easily. Acupuncture is a holistic medicine, which means it aims to find the root cause of your issues while treating the body, mind, and spirit for a whole person approach.

If you are interested in how acupuncture can help you manage your stress and live a healthier, happier life, please contact us today by calling (954)652-6618 or scheduling a free consultation through our online booking system or filling out our form. We look forward to hearing from you and getting you on the path to your best self!

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