Stress is the natural response of the body to the various demands we place upon it. In ancient times, our stress response, also known as our fight or flight response, provided us with energy to preserve life during difficult situations, such as an imminent attack or threat by a wild animal. Unfortunately, modern day stress has been shown to be considerably higher, more frequent and more consistent than what our predecessors experienced.
However, stress is not always negative. There is a distinction between healthy and unhealthy stress. Healthy stressors are usually short lived and keep us alert and motivated, and support our body's strength and vitality.
Our response to stress can either help or hinder our body's ability to cope with these various stressors in our lives. Healthy responses to stress include appropriate physical exercise, good eating habits, positive thinking, adequate rest and reaching out to friends and family for support. Unhealthy responses to stress include negative thinking, overexertion, poor eating habits, lack of sleep and isolation.
Signs and symptoms of an overactive response to stress include:
These unhealthy responses can cause the body to work harder than it needs to and can trigger physical and mental health issues. Over time, ongoing stress and unhealthy responses to stress can actually be detrimental to our health.
Medical studies have shown that under increased and consistent stress, our white blood cells, which defend our body against viruses, decrease. This results in lower immune resistance, ultimately leading to physical disease and emotional instability. Even if the stressors are no longer present, the body continues to keep the stress response active. This results in the depletion of our nervous system, lymphatic organs, kidneys and adrenal glands, which can pave the way for a wide variety of signs and symptoms.
Practitioners of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (T CM) have helped people cope with stress for thousands of years. The ancient theories of T CM explain how stress affects the organs and are similar to that of Western medicine. Chinese medical theory and acupuncture treatment go far beyond treating signs and symptoms to address the root cause(s) of the problem.
Six Ways to Combat Stress: