Feeling stressed? You are not alone! As many as 77% of Americans report stress having a negative impact on their lives, with 33% experiencing extreme stress. It is clear that stress levels have risen for most people in recent years, with the top causes being work pressure, money and health.
Stress affects everybody differently, but some of the most common symptoms include:
- Digestive issues
- Muscle tension
- Low sex drive
As well as costing the nation $300 billion in medical bills and lost work days, stress can also have long term implications for health. Chronic stress has been linked to many serious conditions including heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. So if you are under pressure at work or at home, it is important that you get a good stress management routine in place.
Luckily there are plenty of things you can do to take care of yourself and reduce stress. These include everything from making some simple lifestyle changes to trying a therapy like acupuncture.
Take Care of Your Body
Looking after yourself is the first step towards reducing stress and living a healthier and happier life.
Taking regular exercise is a great stress management technique which can help to clear your mind as well as improving physical fitness. Some people like to blow off steam with high impact activities like running or squash, others prefer calming exercise such as yoga or tai chi. The most important thing is to find something you enjoy doing so that it will be easier to stick to. Start off slowly and aim to build up to 30 minutes of moderate exercise, several times a week.
Eating a balanced and healthy diet is also important in keeping stress levels down. When we are stressed, we tend to binge on unhealthy foods or skip meals completely. However, this will only make things worse in the long run. Try to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and plenty of protein, while avoiding processed foods and refined sugars. This will help to keep your energy levels stable throughout the day.
Don't give in to the temptation of unhealthy habits such as smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs. These might help you to forget about your problems for a short while, but this is temporary and will certainly cause bigger issues in the future.
Take Care of Your Mind
Having a good support network is important in managing stress. Talking over your problems with friends and family can help you to find solutions and ease the pressure of having to deal with things alone. Helping others is another way to develop a more positive outlook and deal with stress.
Prioritize your work and accept that you might not always be able to get everything done. Be realistic in your expectations, ask for help if you need it and don't be afraid to say no if you have to.
Take regular “me time” to do something you enjoy. Read a book, take a hot bath or go for a walk. Many people find techniques like meditation helpful in reducing stress. Therapies such as massage and acupuncture are also great ways to relax and unwind after a hard day.
Acupuncture for Stress Management
Acupuncture is an ancient system of medicine which has been used for thousands of years to promote physical and emotional balance. Traditional acupuncture theory places great importance on the relationship between the body and the mind. It views that any emotional imbalance can result in physical disease and vice versa.
For years, science has sought answers to how acupuncture works to relieve stress and maintain physical health. We now know that acupuncture has a number of different physiological effects on the human body.
Acupuncture influences the central nervous system. It triggers the release of chemicals called endorphins by the brain. These are the body's natural painkillers and bring about a sense of calm and well-being. Acupuncture also relaxes the muscles to relieve tension and can help to soothe symptoms such as headaches and insomnia.
Acupuncture is suitable for people of all ages and levels of health. Because it stimulates the body's own natural ability to heal, it does not cause the side effects associated with medication such as anti-depressants. It is a safe and effective way to relax the body and mind and is well worth incorporating into your stress management routine.