How to Reduce Stress and Burnout with Acupuncture

Have you always wanted to know more about the stress-relieving power of TCM? You’re reading the right post! TCM stands for Traditional Chinese Medicine, one of the oldest surviving medicinal systems in the world. TCM’s longevity has attracted millions of twenty-first-century followers, and this traditional form of medicine boasts myriad benefits that people all over the world can enjoy.

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Helping both body and mind

Today, many people turn to TCM for its uniquely holistic approach to a person’s health. TCM is grounded in Daoist belief and posits the existence of 20 interconnected meridians (or channels) throughout the body. If any of these meridians become imbalanced, the whole body is thrown off kilter – with stress a sure-fire trigger for this imbalance.

Because Traditional Chinese Medicine aims to restore balance to the body and mind, it constitutes the ideal stress treatment. Via techniques like acupuncture, acupressure, and meditation, TCM has helped many individuals rediscover their more energetic selves.

Acupuncture, in particular, has proven popular with Western patients as a proven way to increase blood circulation and to stimulate the release of endorphins and other natural opioids. A newer trend within acupunctural treatment is cosmetic acupuncture, which with its anti-ageing power has been called the natural alternative to surgery or botox (goodbye, stress lines!).  If you’re looking for a caring, holistic approach to health and wellness, TCM and its associated techniques might be the method you need to help manage stress.

Creating Calm

It’s no secret that modern lifestyles are often incompatible with inner peace and physical well-being. Busy jobs, city living, and an ever-expanding list of digital distractions can make it all too easy to lose ourselves in a spiral of stress and negative self-feeling. This is where TCM comes in.

TCM, in particular, aims to relieve stress (2) and anxiety by helping to regulate hormone levels and reducing cortisol levels. TCM aims to release tension and calm the mind, promote physical and emotional well-being and improve sleep (3).

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Treating the cause, not the symptom

Although TCM and acupuncture (4) can do wonders to alleviate stress symptoms (1), they alone can’t alleviate your angst. No medicinal cure will help your stress and anxiety so much as actually identifying the root causes of these issues and addressing them accordingly.

Start by stepping back and deconstructing each aspect of your daily lifestyle. What works well for you and what makes you feel stressed and anxious? Once you look at your life a little more critically, you may realise your angst is caused by things like overwork, unnatural environments, a poor diet, or a lack of human connection.

No matter what is causing your stress, every person can benefit from making a few simple changes. These include spending more time exercising, hanging out with friends, and disconnecting from social media self-extensions whenever you can.

We tend to forget how unnatural the modern habitus is: full of concrete, screens, and antisocial, individualistic behaviour.  We could all do with rediscovering what it means to be human again. So, shake off those work shoes and remember how it feels to run barefoot along the grass with the people you love best – that way, you’ll deal with the problem of stress at its source.

Harper Reid is a freelance writer from Auckland, New Zealand who loves spending quiet time meditating in her backyard – or in her cosy room when it rains!  Writing is her therapy, with her work on home living, health, and business topics published across dozens of sites.  Discover more of Harper’s work here.

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Resources:

1.      British Acupunture Council. Stress [Internet]. Welcome to the British Acupuncture
Council. [cited 2019Jan9]. Available from: https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/stress.html

2.      Healthline. Researchers Find Proof that Acupuncture Blocks Stress [Internet].
Healthline. Healthline Media; [cited 2019Jan9]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/mental-researchers-find-proof-acupuncture-blocks-stress-031413

3.      Kecskes AA. Traditional Chinese Medicine Can Help Adrenal Fatigue [Internet].
Pacific College. 2017 [cited 2019Jan9]. Available from: https://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2014/10/24/traditional-chinese-medicine-can-help-adrenal-fatigue

4.      Sparrow K, Golianu B. Does Acupuncture Reduce Stress Over ... - PubMed Central
(PMC )[Internet]. National Library of Medicine. 2014 [cited 2019Jan9]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4203477/

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Essential fatty acids are an important factor in fertility. A balanced ratio promotes healthy skin and hair growth, adrenal activity and immunity, healthy blood, nerves and arteries, and are vital for the transport and breakdown of cholesterol. When essential fatty acids are low disorders such as dry skin and hair, frequent colds and flus, low body weight, impaired growth, and infertility may occur.

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Acupuncture and IVF

Embarking upon IVF treatment is not a decision that is made lightly, so it’s only natural for prospective parents to want to do everything they can to promote their chances of a successfully outcome.

To date there has been very little research into the area of acupuncture and IVF, however I thought I would explain some of the theory behind the Chinese medicine approach, to help you decide if it is something you’d like to explore.

Chinese medicine takes into consideration the overall health of the individual, as the individual after all will be the one producing the healthy eggs or sperm for the IVF process.

As an acupuncturist, I like to start working with you at least 3 months before your IVF cycle, to help prepare you for the physical and emotional demands of the process. As your overall health and wellbeing may affect your chances of becoming pregnant, together we will aim to improve things such as your digestive health, emotional resilience, and sleep habits, using traditional Chinese medicine techniques.

Benefits of Acupuncture

ACUPUNCTURE AND IVF FOR MEN

Addressing male fertility may seem more straight forward than female fertility, as there is no monthly cycle to work around.

Fertility in men depends on the quality and quantity of sperm produced. In the months before IVF starts, it’s a good idea to improve your diet and modify any lifestyle factors which may impact the health and mobility of your swimmers. Your acupuncturist will discuss with you any areas for adjustment, based on your personal health and individual circumstances.  

ACUPUNCTURE AND IVF FOR WOMEN

Acupuncture treatments in the initial stages of IVF are focused on improving QI and blood flow to the ovaries in the hope that this will enhance follicle growth and quality, as well as endometrial thickness. Diet and lifestyle factors may be addressed, as ideally you want to have your body in tip top condition, and for your emotional landscape to be as balanced as possible.

The second phase of acupuncture treatment occurs between trigger and egg pickup (roughly day 11-14). This is a small window (around 36 hours) where the ovaries are triggered to mimic ovulation in preparation for collection. Many women feel quite tense and anxious at this time, and then feel tense and anxious that this may affect their chances of becoming pregnant! This is why acupuncture treatments at this stage aim to relieve stress, and any other symptoms and side-effects such as insomnia, dizziness, headaches, abdominal pain, and nausea.

The third phase of acupuncture treatment occurs after egg collection (roughly day 14-16) and aims to reduce the effects of medication such as swelling and abdominal bloating. Directing energy and blood to the abdomen is thought to promote healing, as well as prepare the endometrium for transfer of the embryo.

IVF Cycle Treatments

The next phase of the IVF cycle is embryo transfer (roughly day 19). Acupuncture treatment may be offered on the same day, both before and after transfer, as it may help the patient to relax and reduce their stress response, which some fear can discourage the implantation of the embryo during IVF.

The final stage is implantation. This occurs roughly 4-8 days after the embryo transfer, around the time the embryo would naturally implant in the uterus. Acupuncture treatment now aims to direct blood flow to the uterus, where a thick, nutrient rich lining is necessary for the embryo to attach and grow; and again, relaxation is a key focus.

I have had many female clients report that acupuncture treatment for IVF gives them an opportunity to discuss in a confidential and safe environment:

·         how the cycle is unfolding,

·         if and where it is varying from past cycles

·         their physical and emotional wellbeing.

People do not always understand the pressures surrounding IVF treatment, and partners are not always able to provide support in a calm and reassuring manner. An acupuncturist may be able to assist with information on lifestyle factors, in addition to offering emotional support to help your IVF treatment go as smoothly as possible.

SOURCES: 

  • Lyttleton, J 2013, Treatment of Infertility with Chinese Medicine, 2nd edn, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, Edinburgh.

  • Maciocia, G 1998, Obstetrics & Gynecology in Chinese Medicine, Churchill Livingstone, New York.

  • Szmelskyj, I & Aquilina, L 2015, Acupuncture for IVF and Assisted Reproduction: An integrated approach to treatment and management, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, Edinburgh.

 

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