We are living in “interesting times”. The stock market has developed an attack of bipolar disorder, the housing market is chronically depressed, and unemployment is at a 50 year high. Time is short, money is shorter, companies and individuals alike are trying to do more with less. Our lives are beginning to feel like a pair of queen-sized legs stuffed into size small pantyhose.
We are subjected to physiologic stressors every day, and it is virtually impossible to avoid them without putting ourselves into a hermetically sealed bubble. Processed foods, chemical additives, many medications, skin products which contain toxic ingredients, polluted air and water, hormones and antibiotics in the meat we eat are all stressors to our bodies. These stressors can create inflammation which may be so mild it goes unnoticed or may become so severe it dramatically impacts our lives. When we add the emotional stressors many of us are experiencing in these interesting times, it can set of a cascade of physical changes which leave us feeling exhausted, stressed out, and downright sick.
Do you find yourself dropping your daughter off at soccer practice and your son at ballet? Have you missed more than one appointment in the last month, where you would never have dreamed of missing one before? Do you find yourself waiting for the mall parking lot to empty out so you can find your car? Are your car keys ending up in the freezer? Perhaps the occasional heartburn you’ve had with the wrong foods has become more persistent. Or you are jolted awake at 3am by the huge to-do list running on auto re-play in your head. Maybe you wake up each morning with your heart racing and a feeling of impending doom which makes it hard to get out from under the bed. If you are experiencing any of these things, stress is beginning to affect your health. If you are experiencing MANY of these things, you NEED acupuncture NOW!
The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for our “fight or flight” response. When there is a threat to survival, humans are hard-wired to have a rush of adrenaline and other chemicals which allow us to run faster than usual and be stronger than usual for long enough to get away from the threat or stand our ground and fight to the death. When this part of our nervous system is activated, our pupils dilate, our appetites decrease, our need for bodily functions like emptying our bladder or bowels shuts down, and all of our energy is diverted to the need for survival. Back in the day, this system was only activated if we were chased by a saber toothed tiger who thought we would be tasty for lunch. We’d see the tiger, run like hell, dive into a small cave where it couldn’t get us, curl up into a ball, and sleep it off until the tiger went away.
It is rare that there is such a true threat to our survival in the 21st century, but our sympathetic nervous systems get activated many times every day by tight deadlines at work, kitchen failures, computer glitches, kids needing rides in different directions at the same time, parents getting on our nerves, money issues, etc. In these situations, we don’t run away, so we never really burn off the chemical dump and let our nervous systems calm down, nor do we rest sufficiently between activations for our bodies to recover from the effort of surviving the threat. In effect, we get reset to a higher level of nervous system excitement.
Chances are, if you are reading this you’ve experienced the profound relaxation which sometimes occurs during acupuncture. Acupuncture helps to calm the sympathetic nervous system, and serves as a reset button returning us to a more normal level of nervous system excitement. Acupuncture can calm you down, decrease anxiety, slow the frantic spinning in your brain, improve the blood flow to your brain and extremities, and help balance the affects of daily stress.
If you find yourself stressed out, I urge you to call for an appointment for an acupuncture tune-up to reset your nervous system and get you back on track.