Although we tend to think of stress as a negative feeling, it serves an important purpose. When you’re under stress, your “fight-or-flight” processes kick in. Your body produces adrenaline, extra cortisol, and a host of other hormones that work to help speed your reactions and sharpen your senses. If you had to escape from a wild animal, stress would serve you very well!
Sitting in morning traffic while you’re running late for work is not at all the same as running away from a hungry lion, but your body doesn’t know that. Stress doesn’t serve you as well on a day-to-day basis and can even cause harmful health outcomes.
Neil Spiegel, DO, and Jennifer Gularson, PA-C at Osteopathic Center for Healing offer two services that may help lower your stress levels: acupuncture and osteopathic manipulation.
Harmful physical effects of chronic stress
Stress becomes particularly harmful when you remain in a heightened state. It can interfere with sleep, and poor sleep is associated with numerous health issues. It can cause headaches and digestive problems, and may be linked to hypertension and even obesity.
Some of the documented issues associated with long-term stress include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Eating disorders
- Hair loss
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Sexual dysfunction
Lowering your stress levels
If someone suggests that you lower your stress levels, you may be at a loss. How do you do that? Modern life is busy. You have obligations to your family, at work, and to your friends and loved ones. You may feel like you’re neglecting your commitments if you attempt to step away from any of them.
Your health is important, though, and you can’t take care of your obligations if you’re ill. We believe that lowering stress by scheduling time for things like exercise and hobbies is a healthy action. But we also know that sometimes you may need a little more help in tackling your stress problem.
Acupuncture is an ancient approach to health, and has been the focus of several studies, a few of them on how well acupuncture works to alleviate anxiety. The results have been promising.
A common misconception regarding acupuncture is that it’s painful. In most cases, it’s not particularly painful. The needles that are used to perform acupuncture are extremely fine, and most people notice the sensations they feel after the needle is inserted rather than the pain of the needle itself. You may feel a tingling or sense of pressure, or you may simply feel relaxed.
The other thing you should know if you’re considering acupuncture is that it’s very safe. As long as the person performing it is highly qualified and using sanitary tools, you’re unlikely to experience any side effects or negative effects from your treatment.
When you have osteopathic manipulation, your provider uses their hands to manipulate your musculoskeletal system. This approach can be used to adjust the alignment of your joints, to release tight bands of muscle, or to drain your lymph nodes, among many other uses.
If you think about how stress can create tension in your muscles, you can quickly see how osteopathic manipulation could help relieve some of that tension and allow you to relax.
We practice functional medicine at Osteopathic Center for Healing, which means we take your whole situation into account when providing care, rather than simply addressing your symptoms. If stress is a problem in our life, you may find that less of it solves several issues.
If you live in or around Rockville, Maryland, schedule an appointment to talk about how we can help you live a healthier life with less stress.