If you’re reading this, please, take a pause, and do this body scan. Let your shoulders drop, sit- up straight, unclench your hands and jaw. Take a deep breath! The year 2020 has been particularly rough for many. It is as if the world has been in a collective brace since life seemed to have come to an abrupt stop just as the year began. The stress many people face on a daily basis seems to have been compounded by current events. Many Americans and people across the world are having to deal with issues relating to the recent COVID-19 public health emergency, including political unrest, financial distress, job loss and the loss of loved ones. If there was ever a time to highlight the effects stress has on the body, it is now.
The Epidemic of Stress
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Occupational Health and Safety news, stress accounts for approximately 75-90% of all doctor’s visits! In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the whole person is considered and the root cause and diagnosis of stress varies according to the individual. However, a common side effect stress brings, according to TCM, is inhibition of the free flow of Qi or energy throughout the body’s various channels and organs. When the Qi is stagnated or blocked, it can manifest as many physical complaints including, but not limited to, headache, back pain, digestive complaints, sleep problems, and fatigue.
TCM & Acupuncture Relieves Stress
Traditional Chinese Medicine has many modalities that can help relieve stress and bring the body into balance including herbology, acupuncture, cupping, guasha, and tuina massage. One or several of these methods of treatment may be employed by a TCM practitioner in order to relieve stress and bring the body into balance.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine, hair-like metal needles into the surface of the skin at specific points. Points are chosen according to the presentation of the individual and the practitioners in-depth evaluation. From a Western medical perspective, studies have shown acupuncture to increase heart rate variability, release pain relieving endorphins, and modulate the stress hormone cortisol. Treatments are usually 30 minutes and many people leave feeling a deep sense of relaxation. Acupuncture treatments are painless, affordable, accessible and extremely effective.
Acupressure for Self-Care
Acupressure is a beneficial self-care tool that can be done from the comfort of your home to harness the power of TCM. Try the points as outlined below for some stress relief. Points may feel tender, hold each for about 2-3 minutes, with strong, yet gentle pressure. This method is great to pair with essential oils and deep breathing.
Yintang: “Third Eye”
- Location: In the center of the two eyebrows.
- Indication: Anxiety, Insomnia, Pain and Headache
Ren 17: “Sea of Tranquility”
- Location: Middle of sternum, midway between the breasts.
- Indication: Anxiety, Nervousness, Opens the Chest
Large Intestine 4: “The Great Letting Go”
- Location: Find the V formed by the index finger and the thumb. This point is located in the muscle belly.
- Indication: Anxiety, Mental Suppression, Releases Tension
- Caution: Avoid in pregnancy.
Liver 3: “Happy Calm”
- Location: At the end of the valley between the big toe and the second toe.
- Indication: Stress, Insomnia, Fear, Anger
- Caution: Avoid in pregnancy.
Dr. Mary Tracey, N.D., MSAOM, sees patients in both West Hartford and Manchester, Connecticut at Collaborative Natural Health Partners. She is an in-network provider for most insurance companies and is accepting new patients. For more information or questions, please call 860.533.0179 or visit: ctnaturalhealth.com.