Have you ever told yourself (or someone else), “I’m just stressed” to explain why you aren’t feeling like yourself or why are experiencing unusual symptoms?
If so, you could very well be right.
An estimated 60-80% of all primary care doctor visits are related to stress. It’s an astounding number considering stress is something that we can learn to adapt to.
However, in our high stress culture, tension, anxiety, and pressure has become the norm. Rather than stress management, our society tends to lean towards just dealing with the consequences. And those aftermaths can be serious, if not deadly.
We believe it’s time to change our perspective on stress. Instead of living with it until it breaks us, we want to provide insight and solutions into what can be done to address and cope with it in natural ways.
Stress isn’t going anywhere, but our thoughts about it and coping skills for it can put us on a healthier journey.
First, let’s take a look at what stress does:
When we feel pressure accumulating at work, the frustrations of being a parent, or even the worry about having a clean house for company at the holidays, our body goes into fight or flight mode.
This means that our adrenal glands produce cortisol and adrenaline to give us energy and protect our bodies from inflammation during this stressful period. It’s a normal and healthy function – until it becomes chronic.
When we find ourselves in fight or flight consistently over time, it can do harmful damage to our health.
Following are 10 common conditions and issues that are frequently related to stress:
- Back Pain: seen in many men due to inflammation and muscle tension from stress.
- Headaches: including migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches
- Digestive Issues: ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn, stomach aches, constipation, and/or diarrhea
- Hormonal Disruption: PMS, infertility, hair loss, acne, decreased sex drive
- Sleep Issues: insomnia, trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep
- Heart Disease: high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, stroke, heart attack
- Decreased Immune System/Increased Inflammation: the common cold, autoimmune disease, arthritis, lupus, cancer
- Mental Health Conditions: anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Weight Changes: weight loss or gain
- Unbalanced Energy Levels: low energy, exhaustion, lack of concentration or focus or unusually high energy, the feeling of not being able to calm down
And these may just be the more common ones!
At CNMA, we can’t change your stress. Work still needs to get done, kids still need to be fed, and in-laws still come visit. However, we can help you cope on a daily basis and in acute circumstances.
To begin dealing with stress…
- Get current stress levels under control for immediate management.
Acupuncture is an excellent option for combating your stress head-on in the beginning, for maintenance, as well as at extra stressful times.
According to Chinese medicine, stress can lead to blocked energy throughout the body, which in turn, can lead to unhealthy issues and disease. Acupuncture works to unblock stagnant energy, opening the body and mind to balance and calm.
Many people experience a serene experience during the appointment that lasts for several days after. Eventually, the goal is for that feeling to stabilize for long periods of time once energy has a healthy flow again.
To get stress under control, Dr. Graves typically recommends 4-6 weeks of weekly acupuncture appointments and then reduced maintenance from there.
In addition to acupuncture, herbal supplements can be an immediate and lifelong solution for adapting to stress. Supplements generally do not have harmful side eﬀects and can be taken on a long-term basis.
Many stress-coping supplements hone in on adrenal, nervous system, and brain functions of the body to support a calmer response to stress.
- Once under control, it’s time to process.
Starting to feel a little more grounded? Great! Now it’s time to begin processing.
When we say processing, we mean it’s time to sit and be with your emotions. Chances are, you’ve been too busy, too nervous, or too scared to take time to think about things. Many of us compartmentalize our stress or emotions, ignoring it or telling ourselves it’s not important.
We’re here to tell you it is.
Maybe it’s past trauma, grief, anger, or even just the overwhelming feelings of living in western society today, but acknowledging our feelings and anxieties can be a crucial, although many times unexpected, part of dealing with stress in a healthy manner.
To begin exploring the stress in your life, try:
– walking in nature
– finding time to be still
– opening up to your spouse, family member, or friend or holistic counseling, where you can discuss your stress in a safe and confidential environment.
- Find new ways to adapt to your stress levels and stick with them.
Once you notice the sun starting to rise on your relationship with stress, discover new ways of coping that are easy and/or eﬀective for you.
In the past, you may have reached for a glass of wine (or two), raised your voice a little too loud, or shut yourself oﬀ from the world. Now is the time to make a fresh start on what to do in the future.
Think about what you can do on a daily basis to cope with stress such as:
– herbal supplements for physical support
– daily exercise
– 10 minute meditation when you wake up, during lunch, before walking in the door at home, and/or before bed
– limiting processed foods
– reducing electronic usage
– quarterly acupuncture appointments
Then note ideas of things you can do when stress seems out of control such as:
– taking 20 deep breaths
– tensing your muscles for 5 seconds then releasing, repeating a few times
– taking a walk around the block
– making a cup of hot tea
– taking an herbal supplement
– scheduling an acupuncture appointment
– quieting your mind with a 10 minute meditation download
– relaxing in an epsom salt bath
Or finding a few of your own!
As Dr. Graves says, “We can’t change stress. But if it’s not dealt with, it has to come out someplace.”
Don’t wait until it does.
If you live in Castle Rock, Castle Pines, Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree, Centennial, Parker, Larkspur, Monument, Colorado Springs, or the Greater Denver Metro area and are looking for ways to manage your stress and cope with it in the future, please don’t hesitate to contact us now at (303) 688-6698 or schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation with Dr. Graves to talk further.
Remember that stress is serious. Many people need support in learning to live with it in a healthy manner. We are here to help you do just that.