Om Acupuncture Center
About Stress
In the late 1930's, endocrinologist and pioneer of stress research, Hans Selye, coined the term stress, defining it as the non-specific response of the body to any demand (stressor), whether it is caused by or results in pleasant or unpleasant conditions. A particular stressor can be physical, mental or emotional; real or imaginary. Dr. Selye emphasized the non-specific nature of stress which is a natural part of life and cannot be avoided. Numerous researchers have emphasized however, that our bodies were just not designed to endure the unique stresses of our modern world. We do indeed live in stressful times.

Effects of Stress
A number of studies have been published describing the effects of stress, especially chronic long-term stress. Some of the conditions linked to chronic stress include a weakened immune system, heart disease, obesity, anxiety disorders, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems, headaches, muscle and joint pain. There is on-going research on the link between stress and diseases like Alzheimer's, cancer, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and heart disease. You may have personally experienced stress manifesting in other ways. Stress in our lives not only affects our health, but may indirectly affect those we are in relationship with - partners, family members, friends, co-workers.

How Acupuncture can Help
Acupuncture can help calm the Sympathetic 'fight or flight' stress response, and move towards a Parasympathetic 'rest and digest' state. During the 'rest and digest' stage, the diaphragm relaxes, breathing deepens and becomes more regular. During this stage, the brain not only receives more oxygen and nutrients, but also mood enhancing chemicals which are your body's own natural 'feel good' chemicals known as endorphins. These endorphins are natural opiates, which relieve pain and increase your sense of relaxation and well-being. Other studies show that acupuncture may regulate the levels of neurotransmitters and hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, and GABA; may alleviate the inflammatory response; may reduce levels of cortisol on the body, and may act on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress. From a Chinese Medicine point of view, acupuncture regulates those meridians and organ systems involved in modulating imbalances or blockages of energy associated with stress in the body. Stress can cause or be caused by disharmony of our energies. Regular acupuncture treatments help to maintain the body's balance, to enhance it's ability to thrive in times of stress, boost the immune system, aid in healing, and offer a chance to relax, calm and center.

Meditation
Meditation can be a valuable tool in both relating to and in relieving stress. Numerous studies point to the benefits of a regular meditation practice in calming our mind-body during states of stress, as well as helping to fortify our ability to withstand the effects of stress when they do occur. Numerous techniques and methods of meditation are available. A program such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts' Medical School, is one example of a structured curriculum toward developing a meditation practice. Click here to read more about meditation.

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