What is Stress and How Does it Affect Me?
Stress is a topic that is always in the news. It’s something we all have to deal with in some form or another. In the right amounts, it can be a very good thing. For fun, we seek stress; we ride roller coasters, run marathons, and occasionally jump out of perfectly good airplanes. All in the name of fun. Opposingly, life with no stress is boring. You need some stress to keep your body and mind engaged. However, if the stress is ongoing and not properly managed then it can overwhelm the body’s defense systems.
Chronic stress can lead to numerous health problems. The key to good health is finding the right amount of stress to optimize your nervous system. Psychologists have a name for this. It’s called the “Inverted U” of stress. Optimal stress levels lead to better overall performance whereas an excess of stress leads to a decline in performance. When chronic stress builds up, it’s important to find ways to manage it in order to restore your health and get your stress levels back into their optimal zone.
Chronic stress symptoms present themselves in three forms: physical, emotional and behavioral. Physical symptoms are low energy, headaches, upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, aches, pains, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, frequent colds, loss of sexual drive, nervousness, cold sweaty hands and feet, clenched jaw, grinding teeth and tinnitus (ringing in the ear). Emotional symptoms include being easily frustrated, agitated, moodiness, feeling overwhelmed, trouble relaxing, low self-esteem, and avoiding social situations. Behavioral symptoms include changes in appetite, procrastination, avoiding responsibilities, increased use of alcohol, drugs/alcohol, nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it’s important to find ways to manage them. These symptoms are your body’s way of telling you it has been under stress for too long and is in need of help. Another way to think about it is your nervous system is similar to a sports car. To keep the car running optimally you have to schedule regular tune-ups. A sports car that is not taken care of starts to break down and eventually can’t race anymore.
How Acupuncture Can Help With Stress
Acupuncture is a fantastic way of tuning the nervous system. It helps the nervous system adapt and re-educate itself to operate in a more efficient way. This type of therapy helps the body in a variety of ways; it decreases stress, optimizes blood flow, decreases aches and pains, promotes better sleep, and helps with digestion (just to name a few of its benefits).
When stress is an issue for a patient, we utilize what is known as the Shen min points for our acupuncture treaatments. These “stress-relieving” points can be found in the ear, and we use very small painless needles to trigger them. These points are used specifically to get your body out of fight or flight and in to rest and relax. Stress is a normal part of life, but when it gets out of control it’s not good for your health. At Greenwich Sports Medicine we use acupuncture and other tools to help you manage your stress and recover from injuries faster.
“If you’re stressed like a normal mammal in an acute physical crisis, the stress response is lifesaving. But if instead you chronically activate the stress response for reasons of psychological stress, your health suffers.”
― Robert M. Sapolsky Author of “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.”