The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, celebration and love. But for many, the holidays mean added stress, anxiety and lack of sleep. Some polls show Americans spend an average of 42 hours annually on holiday activities. This could be anything from shopping to traveling to preparing food. And all of that adds up to extra stress that deteriorates the body and mind. Mental and physical stress then translates into oxidative stress at the cellular level. Oxidative stress, over time, can actually lead to disease.
The good news is there are many ways to deal with and handle added holiday stress. One of these ways is through the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This medical system has been around for nearly 3,500 years and can greatly improve our quality of life. TCM is a holistic and natural way to combat anxiety and stress. Acupuncture is one of the modalities this medical system utilizes. Acupuncture has the ability to induce deep relaxation throughout the mind, body and soul. In fact, many people report falling asleep during their acupuncture treatments.
Numerous studies have been done to show how acupuncture can decrease stress. A study at Yale University showed auricular, or ear acupuncture, significantly lowered stress levels in mothers whose children were undergoing surgery. Multiple studies also confirm acupuncture can lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings. And blood pressure is one of the first physical signs a person is stressed out.
In TCM, each season is associated with an element. Winter is associated with the element of water. Starting every day during the holidays/winter season with a large glass of room temperature water can not only keep the body hydrated, but it can also prevent added stress at the cellular level. From a metaphorical stance, water is calming to the mind and body. So when we feel that twinge of anxiety coming on, visualizing water, like an ocean or a lake, can actually help decrease the stress levels.
As mentioned above, chronic stress can lead to oxidative stress at the cellular level. Chronic pain sufferers can attest to how stress affects their bodies. For many people who deal with diseases like fibromyalgia, the excess stress around the holidays can actually increase the amount of pain in the body. Regular acupuncture treatments, even during the holidays can be very beneficial for those who have chronic health and pain issues. Acupuncture can reduce inflammation and relieve pain in as few as one to two treatments.
Another helpful tip to deal with holiday stress, is to get out in nature. Yes, it can be cold during the holiday season. However, studies show spending even as little as five minutes outside among nature can lower blood pressure and decrease stress. And what better way to admire the beautiful lights and decorations that frequent so many neighborhoods during this time of year, than to step outside for a breath of fresh air or a quick walk around the block?
Acupuncture is also a wonderful tool to combat Acupuncture is also a wonderful tool to combat insomnia that can frequently wreak havoc around the holidays. Traveling, packing and multiple holiday events can really interfere with getting a good night’s sleep. Acupuncture can definitely help with that. Because it is so relaxing, many people take healing power naps when they are receiving their acupuncture treatments.
Before the holiday season kicks in, contact a locally licensed acupuncturist to discuss how they can help you deal with stress and anxiety. You’ll be glad you did.