The dictionary defines stress in multiple ways, but there is only one that matters when we discuss how stress affects our physical bodies. The definition is this, “stress is a physical, chemical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension.” And while most people think of stress as being detrimental, it truly does have a function in our bodies. Stress is the body’s way of signaling for help or a break in the routine. If we don’t listen to these signals, we can develop imbalances in our bodies, which can then lead to illnesses.
Cortisol is the hormone most closely related to stress. Cortisol is a big component of the “fight or flight” response we feel when we are scared or threatened. And in small bursts, cortisol is helpful. However, when stress becomes chronic, the cortisol levels become elevated and never return to normal. This puts the body in a constant state of being on edge, eventually causing insomnia, depression, anxiety, digestive issues and even mental illness.
There are ways to fight and reduce stress though. Simple things like exercise, meditation, coloring, talking with friends and even acupuncture. Admittedly, most people don’t think of being stuck with tiny needles as “relaxing”, but it really is. Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years and it is becoming more mainstream every single day. It is even being used in some hospital emergency rooms for those who are in pain and anxious.
Acupuncture acts like physical therapy for the nervous system. The tiny needles re-train the nervous system and the brain to behave as it should normally. For the nervous system to act and respond accordingly, cortisol has to be at normal levels and only used when a true “fight or flight” situation occurs. Studies show acupuncture does this.
There are over 400 acupressure points on the body and another 100 or more in the ears. But within all these choices, there are certain points that are much better for treating stress. Here are three great choices for dealing with your stress levels.
Yin Tang – This point is located midway between the inner ends of the eyebrows. Yin Tang is used to treat stress, anxiety and insomnia. It is also a great point to use for eye issues, nasal problems and headaches.
Ren 17 – Located in the center of the chest, midway between the nipples on the breastbone or sternum, this point is great for opening the chest. Many people feel chest tightness and constriction when they become stressed. This point will definitely help. It is frequently used to treat anxiety, depression and nervousness, as well as asthma or other lung issues. It can also be added to treatments to help with digestive issues or heart problems like palpitations.
Heart 7 – This point is located on the underside of the wrist crease on the outer edge. It is found in the depression on the outer side of the tendon. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this point is used to calm the mind and heart. It works well for anxiety, stress and anger too.
If stress is something you experience frequently, seeking out a licensed acupuncturist might just be the remedy you need to get it under control. And don’t forget that long-term mental stress can turn into physical stress that leads to disease. So what are you waiting for?
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.