Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Acupuncture and Family Stress

Stress is one of today’s most common causes of problems and disease among people today. I don’t think we even realize how much stress we are under as individuals or as families. Nor do I think we recognize what it is doing to us and our lives. Sure there was always stress, it is a basic component of our makeup. Without stress we would have died out as a species.

How can that be you are asking? Well if you are asking that question, you simply don’t understand stress and the important role it plays in our survival. Please don’t be insulted, as I mean no harm. It is just that we are so far removed from nature that we don’t know any more what is natural and what is not.

Every person has an autonomic nervous system. This autonomic nervous system is divided into two parts – the sympathetic nervous system and the para-sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system controls those responses of our bodies that are not under our control. For example, flight or fight, pupil dilation in the dark, mouth watering when we are hungry or smell good food. The para-sympathetic nervous system controls systems while we are at rest. For example, digestion while resting, breathing while resting.

Stress and reaction to it fall under the purview of the sympathetic nervous system and is part of the fight or flight response system in our bodies. Basically it is a keep me alive warning system. What I mean by this is that we humans along with most animals have an early warning system built in, like when the hair on the back of your neck stands up or when you get the nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach when you know something is wrong. That is the natural reaction to stress. You then have to start processing that signal and decide whether you should stand and fight or run for your life (hence the term - fight or flight). Problem is we can’t always discern what is real and what is only in our heads. The body does not know whether the attack is actual or not. The body does not know if the attack is from inside our brain or if someone is physically coming at us. It just senses stress and reacts.

What are the reactions? Our breathing speeds up and becomes more shallow, heart rate speeds up, digestion stops, our eyes dilate, elimination processes stop (so long as we are not in a sudden scare). In other words all non-essential functions for maintaining life stop and those needed for maintaining life go into overdrive.

In today’s world we all live and work in very hectic and demanding times. Whether it comes from work or relationships or traffic, our reaction is the same, namely we get upset and perhaps get ready for a fight. We will protect ourselves from any perceived assaults.
One can only imagine, or perhaps you don’t need to imagine what this does to our bodies and the people around us.

In my practice I like to use a parable that goes like this: Imagine you are the president. As president you are commander-in-chief and can call out the army to defend the mother land any time you wish. Well what do you think would happen to your army if you were constantly calling it out and sending it to the front to fight, only every time the army got there was no enemy in sight. They would wear out and get very tired of this and perhaps even get angry at you, the president. Well I tell my patients, you are the both the president and the country all in one. Every time you get upset or stressed you are calling out the army. The army is your nervous system and stress is your early warning system. If you keep calling out the troops because your early warning system is constantly being activated, what do you think the result will be?

Now just think how all of this is affecting your job, your family and even your own health. Everyone of those things will suffer and deteriorate. Eventually one could start to lose these things, some never to return. It is time to start reconnecting with what is really important in life, what we should allow to affect our lives. We all have the power to change we just have to have the will. It is the responsibility of changing that we don’t seem to want. We don’t want to do anything that takes effort anymore. We are so used to instant gratification and if we don’t get it, well then….

At Wholistic Family Healthcare we are all about taking the time to heal. Healing takes time, there are no two ways about it. We can help you slow down, we can help you heal, we can help you take stress out of your life. You just have to be willing to make the changes necessary and then you can heal. We are the helpers, we are the healers, but we can’t make you do anything - that is your job. Acupuncture, Chinese herbs and massage therapy are the tools we use to help you heal.

If you are truly interested in making a change in your life and that of your families then let’s talk and see if we can help you. If you are ready to accept responsibility for yourself and your health then let’s talk and see if we can help you. If you want instant results and want to take a pill and hope you feel better in the morning…then we are not for you.

My clinic is located in Silver Spring, MD close to Washington DC.

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