Attention Frazzled Californians: Acupuncture Can Help with Chronic Stress

I’ve been thinking about life in sunny SoCal and how nice it is to live here but also how difficult it can be. While our population density brings us amazing diversity, it can leave people feeling quite lost, alone, and stressed. In a recent article, journalist Brenda Gazzar points out that California ranks as the “fourth most ‘stressed out’ state” of the lower 48 due to such factors as longer than average commutes, high cost of living and high unemployment rates.

Lots of people seek out acupuncture for stress and anxiety. They are common problems I treat at LBCA, and they are easily exacerbated by frustrating traffic, financial stress, and unemployment. Stress can be sneaky, manifesting in a variety of different ways from stomach upset and digestive difficulties to insomnia, headaches, and irregular, painful periods. When our life circumstances contribute to our stress levels, it can be very difficult to alter these patterns. It’s not so easy or realistic for people to simply quit jobs because they are challenging or to move closer to their work because their commute is rough.

Fortunately, regular acupuncture treatments can go far in helping people cope with chronic stressors. When I meet with people who come in for stress and anxiety I always ask them how their stress manifests physically. It can be a tricky question to answer sometimes—as a stomachache is easily blamed on diet, rather than emotion, and irregular periods can be chalked up to hormonal problems rather than a byproduct of stress. Chest tightness and difficulty breathing might be more obvious indicators of anxiety, as are insomnia and TMJ.

But what about workplace aggression? According to Karen Hall of the Atlanta-based Stress Institute, it is also a symptom of stress “‘whether it’s violence, sabotage, theft or bullying’” (Gazzar). Ignoring chronic stress can set someone up for long-term health problems like high blood pressure and cardiac disease and Hall is emphatic saying, “‘If it’s chronic stress, you better do something or you’re going to get physical […], emotional […], or relational symptoms sooner or later’” (Gazzar).

Hall doesn’t mention acupuncture as a remedy for chronic stress, but we know it strongly promotes relaxation. Every day at LBCA people fall asleep in our chairs, rest with headphones listening to their favorite music, or simply meditate. People leave more calm than when they arrived.

Acupuncture is a simple, effective tool to promote wellness and relaxation in your life. Getting regular treatments incorporates a set-time to decompress and can help you handle all the chaos and joy of living in the Golden state.