Imagine a cave woman 20,000 years ago sitting in the bushes and peacefully eating berries, when suddenly a saber-tooth tiger leaps out and threatens her. All the resources in her body shift away from digesting the berries and toward escaping the tiger. Her heart rate speeds up, her reflexes quicken, her blood glucose levels rise to supply energy to her muscles, her blood clots more readily in case she is slashed by the tiger. She experiences the classic fight-or-flight response. Everyday maintenance functions, including digestive, immune, and hormonal functions, are temporarily put on hold.
In the modern world, escaping the tiger is an every-minute-of-the-day affair. Our phones keep us constantly alerted to news and the constant demands on us and our time up until the very minute we fall asleep. Our brains can’t tell the difference between "Uughhh I have so many emails to respond to and I don’t have time" and "Yikes, there’s a tiger chasing me." Stress is any thought, feeling, or belief that makes your brain feel threatened. So that includes getting chased by a tiger but also work stress, money worries, relationship struggles, and feelings of resentment, sadness, and anxiety.
A baseline level of chronic stress is much more common than people realize. Knowing that is one thing, but actually doing that is another thing entirely. In fact, nothing irritates me more than someone telling me to "just relax." The desire to be relaxed and stress-free can sometimes feel like another thing on my to-do list of achievement goals. If this feels like you, acupuncture can help greatly.
Acupuncture is proven to reduce stress and even reverse the effects of stress. Research shows that acupuncture stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone that signals and regulates the parasympathetic nervous system. Acupuncture also addresses the effects of stress, like high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose levels, and insomnia. Because it returns blood flow from the extremities back to the inner organs such as the digestive and reproductive organs, you often see a huge increase in fertility and pregnancy rates.
Deep breathing, joy, and appreciation all immediately slingshot you out of fight-or-flight mode, too, and into the parasympathetic rest-and-relax mode. It sends a signal to your brain that you are safe and it can relax. This in turn allows your body to heal from stress, pain, and inflammation.