WRITTEN BY LISA BORG-ANDERSON
The last 6 months have been anything but normal in my home as I am sure many of you are also in the same boat. Our lives have shifted drastically with the beginning of COVID-19 and dealing with all that it brings forth. Lots of staying at home, working from dining room tables, taking care of kids who are missing their own social norms, and the racial and political aspects of America are also areas of added stress.
Albeit in my line of work as an acupuncturist, I would go so far as to say completely essential to my mental stability and I would have to say my spouse would agree.
Stress takes so many different forms, it can affect our mood, ability to think, to digestion, causes headaches, reduces our ability to sleep and so much more. It can make us more prone to become ill or not recuperate from illness and make us more susceptible to making poor food choices. If our bodies are too stressed, hormone levels can be affected and interrupt our natural circadian rhythms and lead to dis-ease within the body. Over time, extra stress will become more physical and rooted in our physiology.
Learning to identify and recognize our bodies' first responses to stress will become so important as life is inherently stressful. Too much of any emotion, good or bad, will trigger our hormone levels to shift. If we learn to notice the little shifts our bodies make, we can learn to tune in and get ourselves back on track as quickly as possible.
It is looking at the subtle changes that happen within the body. We feel the pulse, look at your tongue, and ask lots of questions. We use needles, cups, and other tools to help adjust your energy so you feel your best. Acupuncturists are great at helping us learn what shifts happen when we feel more stressed.
The first question I always ask patients is: where does your stress show up? In your shoulders and neck, do you stop eating, keep yourself awake overthinking? Once you can start to ask hmm-am I feeling more stressed? What is it that I feel when I am stressed? What’s the best thing I can do to reduce my stress level?
Making sure you have enough water, good quality rest, exercise, relaxation, and quality nutritional intake in both food and supplements are the first steps in helping yourself in stressful times.
In addition, getting the right support for your mental health through counseling and contacting your primary care team may be necessary during certain times in your life. Creating a care plan for higher times of stress may require more support.
Talking to your partner or family and letting them know what is going on is also very important to your overall wellbeing. Asking for help with time away from your children to take time out for yourself is important so you can give back to them and your spouse too.
We need to remember that our mental health directly affects the ability of our bodies to heal. Creating time for self-care is imperative to our ability to reduce the effects of ongoing stress on the body.
Doing a combination of both physical exercise and relaxation practices supports both, the physical body in staying healthy, releasing endorphins to support our happiness, and boosting our immunity; but the relaxation component creates a vessel to release old stresses that need to be released.
Creating time for prayer, meditation, or breathing exercises is a great way to clear your mind and support a healthier overall you. There are so many forms of relaxation techniques as well as physical activities. Try a different variety and exercising outside if possible is a great way to feel grounded and at peace.
Create a schedule and pencil yourself into it regularly so that you do not wait for your body to ask for support. Be proactive, block out time, be gentle with yourself, and keep working towards more balance.
If you think acupuncture might be a good fit for you, talk to a nationally certified practitioner who can support you with your individual health needs. Acupuncture can support you with physical and mental health to reduce stress, aid in more restful sleep, and create time dedicated to resting and restoring your self for a happier you.
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team. Your information will not be shared.