Our world is in a state of heightened fear, anger, hurt, and uncertainty. Our values are being challenged and brought front and center. Rightfully so. What the world needs now is leaders, and we all have it in us to lead in our own lives by example for others.
But that’s harder when your body is struggling to maintain proper functioning. Stress is the looter inside us. Be diligent to counteract it where you can.
Where do we start? We can actually take a look at our stress level – perceived, and also actual demands on you that are “normal”. Here is more about stress and the way it impacts your hormones and thus your total health and resilience!
What are hormones?
Hormone functions can be broadly grouped into several categories: reproduction and sexual differentiation; development and growth; maintenance of the internal environment; and regulation of metabolism and nutrient supply. A single hormone may affect more than one of these functions and each function may be controlled by several hormones.
In short, hormones are chemical messengers telling the body how to react to stimuli.
You may have heard of the adrenal glands and how they produce cortisol which is a “fight or flight” hormone. The HPA axis – hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis – is the relay system that activates our “fight or flight” response. This process occurs whether we acknowledge that we’re stressed or not. Much happens without our cognitive awareness – after all it was designed so that we can react instantly to danger, no thinking needed. Unfortunately, most of us are in a state of chronic low grade stress. And this leads to many chronic ailments. Overproduction of stress hormones creates chaos for blood sugar which contributes to inflammation. It’s a cascade effect.
Stress–>Fight or Flight Response via the HPA Axis –>Insulin resistance, insomnia, fatigue –>Dysregulation of metabolic hormones and mood neurotransmitters
Chronic stress means excess stress hormones like cortisol, which works to shut down digestion, increase heart rate, and keep us alert (aka anti-sleep). Chronic stress also causes or contributes to:
- weight gain/obesity
- thyroid dysfunction
And the list goes on.
To reduce stress, lifestyle changes are really important. Here’s my blog about how to organize your lifestyle around reducing stress.
But there’s other ways you can really promote wellness, be proactive against the hidden damage caused by stress, and prevent chronic illness.
One of the best ways is regular acupuncture treatments.
How Acupuncture Reduces Stress
Acupuncture works very similarly to meditation in that it reduces the active beta brain waves, increases the relaxed alpha brain waves, and also produces your happy hormones including endorphins which are natural pain killers, and neurotransmitters seratonin and dopamine known to affect mood. While stress creates the fight or flight response, acupuncture induces the rest and digest response, which allows the body to heal itself. In addition, acupuncture can really help you achieve better sleep as well. Insomnia is a major barrier for hormonal health, and acupuncture through the mechanisms mentioned, helps you restore your natural circadian rhythms.
Stress creates inflammation, and acupuncture reduces the inflammatory response and promotes circulation of blood, lymph, and nerve signals.
When working on resolving a health issue, acupuncture is prescribed in a series of treatments, at first close together, then spreading further apart, until you are feeling good, the problem is resolved, and then you continue with a maintenance plan to keep the body functioning properly.