I Tried Acupuncture For Stress Relief, Here’s What Happened
Words: Emma Taylor
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a 3,000-year-old technique of traditional Chinese medicine, where needles are used to penetrate the skin, stimulating certain points on the body to alleviate pain or to help treat various health conditions. The philosophy of traditional Chinese medicine is about balancing the two forces of yin and yang. Yin and yang are balanced by the constant flow of ‘Qi’ aka energy through the body. Acupuncture releases any blocked Qi, stimulating the body’s natural healing process. Acupuncture can be used for many ailments, from pain to digestive issues, migraines to insomnia, as well as for overall wellness. Why I chose acupuncture? Having changed jobs at the start of the year, I wanted to focus on my wellness and explore alternative medicine. Stress was all too consuming and my body was in a constant state of tension and although I would have a massage from time to time, it wasn’t getting to the core.
What was my experience?
From my first session of acupuncture I have to say I am amazed. The session started with a consultation on my areas of concern, which for me was treating my stressed – out body, my over thinking mind, my bloated stomach and my feet which always encountered some sort of pain as I have awfully flat feet. When the needles go in its just a quick prick and a little tingling sensation that doesn’t last for long. A series of needles were placed at my temples, on my stomach and on my feet. Finally, needles were placed in my hands which were probably the most uncomfortable. In total there were 20 needles placed around my body. While the needles aren’t painful you can feel a slight pressure. I soon forgot this pressure though, when I was wrapped up in a towel, with an infra-red heat lamp moved over my torso, the lights turned out and the spa music turned up slightly. The heat lamp warms you and helps soothe aches and pains, as the infra-red are absorbed by the body. The pressure combined with the warmth turned out to be the ultimate relaxation inducer and in a matter of minutes I was asleep.
The treatment lasted for 30 minutes and was finished off with a head massage and I now realise how underrated a head massage is. The sense of relaxation and calm after is great. The next morning I realised an additional benefit; I slept soundly. I had a great night’s sleep.
Naturally I returned for another session, this session I combined with a back and shoulder massage, and again I had a wonderful night’s sleep that evening. On my next visit I was experiencing tightness in my jaw, a symptom of clenching your teeth in your sleep (again stress related) and having bought a mouth guard which I found only made me clench more I figured I would see if acupuncture would work here. Updating my therapist about my jaw pain, needles were placed near my ear where the jaw hinges, along with the standard ones on my temples, stomach, hands and feet; and I am happy to report my tightness has improved.
After three sessions it was clear to me that acupuncture was having a positive effect on me. Sleeping is such an important part of self-care and a good night’s sleep is incredibly important, as noted by Dr. Chatterjee the author of ‘The 4 Pillars of Health’ “Sleep is one of the most undervalued components of our health, yet neglecting it can have devastating consequences”. I recommend listening to Dr. Chatterjee’s podcast on Why Sleep is the Most Important Pillar of Health with Professor Matthew Walker.
I look forward to my acupuncture sessions, knowing that night I will be out for the count. My acupuncturist recommended that I have weekly sessions and it’s an investment that I am happy to make for my wellness, even if it is a placebo effect from having to lay still for 30 minutes, it has become so clear to me that finding stillness in our fast – paced world is so very important to the longevity of our mind and body. I believe that those needles are pin pointing the pressure points of tension my body holds and coupled with being still is the medicine my body needs.
Words: Emma Taylor