Stress, Anxiety, Modern Living, and How Acupuncture Can Help

April 11, 2016


By Jonathan Handel, Acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner

Everyone has been in this position before: you are at a restaurant with a ten-page menu and can’t stop flipping through it, while your friends and the waiter wait impatiently. This is paralysis-by-analysis. With so many options, we over-think what should be a relatively simple decision.

This problem is a constant for most people. We want to make the best decisions we can, but our world is a smorgasbord of choice, and every moment we are met with another flurry of possibility.

“Do I drive or take transit to work?”

“Do I work out or cook dinner?”

“Do I get a good night sleep or go for a drink with a friend?”

All these micro-stresses add up, and leave our bodies in a constant state of agitation. In Chinese Medicine, we think of this as stagnation. By incurring small stresses, bodily energy gathers up, waiting in the ready for some kind of action. In this gathering mode, though, it is stagnant—not moving freely as it normally would, to be used as needed by various bodily functions. Western Medicine might call this the “fight or flight” mode. When in this state, everyday functions, like digestion or sleep, are put on the back burner, as your system is prioritizing readiness. This may not be a bad thing, if you are about to run a race, give a presentation at work, or have an altercation with a sabre tooth-tiger. If it becomes too constant, however, the de-prioritized functions will start to weaken, or even crash.

Our bodies work best in a state of balance. Being in this stagnant, or “fight or flight” state, is like having your system turned up to 11 all day. This pattern can lead to many different health issues, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia and poor sleep
  • Digestion problems
  • Tension and body pain
  • Headaches
  • Women’s health issues (such as menstrual disorders or menopause symptoms)
  • Acne and other skin problems

So we know modern stress and indecision can cause health problems. But what can we do about it? Most of us cannot weed every bit of difficulty or jaggedness out of our lives. Work, family, money: these have stressors built-in. The solution, then, lies not in changing the stressful input, but in managing bodily reactions better. In order to become less reactive to stress, in order to manage stress-related symptoms, the body must switch over from the “fight or flight” to the “feed and breed” (also known as “rest and digest”) mode. I often think of this state as the “healing mode.” In Chinese Medicine we understand this mode as one where stagnant energy is unblocked, so that it can circulate smoothly through the body. When energy is regulated and moving well, the body is put into a relaxed state, a state optimal for self-repair.

One great tool to help us get to this place is acupuncture. Acupuncture is particularly effective because it can provide short-term symptomatic relief, and also be used preventatively to manage stress, anxiety and all the related issues. This is great news for people who do not want to use medications, or those who do take medications, and need help managing side effects. Acupuncture, with its emphasis on balance, does not cause severe side effects, and often will give the positive results of greater sleep, energy and digestion (even if the health complaint being treated is totally unrelated to those things!)

Acupuncture can help you take control of your health and keep anxiety at bay—allowing you to rest, relax and heal. With regular acupuncture treatments, you can retrain the negative patterns caused by acute and chronic stress, and start addressing problems at their root.

Learn more Thursday, April 21st at Jonathan’s complimentary seminar Register Here

Jonathan Handel, R.Ac R.TCMP



Jonathan is a acupuncturist and practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine. He values a holistic approach, and seeks to treat the root causes of illness and provide symptomatic relief for people seeking to better their health and quality of life. As a practitioner, Jonathan seeks to create a positive healing environment, where patients can step away from their daily stresses. Through creating a safe and comfortable space, patients can look forward to coming in for treatment as an opportunity to seek relief and get the support they need.

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