By Katherine Rowe, LAc
Do the words, “just relax,” have the opposite effect on you? That’s because when your body is in the full-on hormone frenzy that is our stress-mode, it is virtually impossible to “just relax.” If you’re reading this, you have probably already experienced how wonderfully relaxing an acupuncture session is. I mean, seriously, not much comes close to the deep, full body relaxation you get after a good acupuncture treatment.
When you get acupuncture, no matter what brings you in, your body releases endogenous opiods or endorphins. Endorphins are your body’s natural painkillers. Wait – read that again: your body makes it’s own painkillers and acupuncture causes you to release them! The endorphins work to mitigate the stress response, which is an entire cascade of other hormones that get released when we’re in fight or flight mode.
This means that acupuncture literally stops the chemicals we produce when we are stressed and causes the body to release our feel-good endorphins. Not many other things can do this for us. Our body releases endorphins when we exercise intensely, like with heavy weightlifting or by sprinting. But if you had to choose, doesn’t a nice, peaceful acupuncture session sound better than sprinting a couple miles? (I know there are a few crazy runners out there who would disagree)
My inspiration for writing this article was a new patient I met last week who had been struggling with infertility issues for 8 years. This is a long time to want something and endure the stress of disappointment month after month. Not to mention the expense of trying different fertility treatments. Scientists say that the stress level of an infertility patient is identical to those diagnosed with a terminal illness. This patient was recounting a story to me in which a new friend at work had told her to “just relax, then it will happen,” in reference to getting pregnant. While she said she wanted to physically harm the person for saying that to her, she realized that she was beyond being able to relax and needed help. When she came for her second visit she told me that she had felt calm for the first time in 8 years after her first acupuncture treatment.
I wanted to remind all of us that we can actively choose to do something about our stress levels. Please don’t wait 8 years before you reach out for help with stress. We all can in fact “just relax” by getting acupuncture. And this is a good thing!
Here is your homework: Next time, you think someone needs to “just relax,” tell them to come see us and get some acupuncture. We’ll take it from there.