For most caregivers, the idea of needles sticking out of their skin doesn’t conjure up pleasing thoughts of relaxation. Instead, the first thing they probably think of is pain and they immediately abandon any further plans of enduring the procedure. However, in recent years an increasing number of people are turning to the alternative source and finding they are surprised that acupuncture actually can relieve caregiver stress.
And caregiver stress is definitely something that needs to be relieved. Chronic stress is believed to cause a host of health problems, from high blood pressure to depression. The use of acupuncture to manage stress is relatively new. It has generally been used for pain relief and for the management of chronic conditions.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles into a person’s skin. According to traditional Chinese medicine, from which acupuncture hails, the needles are placed along meridians, or lines along which your body’s energy is said to flow. The flow of energy becomes blocked when there is a problem – either the problem causes the blockage or the blockage causes the problem, but either way the channel needs to be opened. Acupuncturists believe that healing can occur if your body’s energy is flowing freely.
Stress blocks energy flow
Stress causes all sorts of energy traffic jams. It puts the body in “fight or flight” mode, which means some body systems are deliberately neglected for the sake of survival. This is meant to be temporary, but people who suffer chronic stress are stuck in this emergency state. Acupuncture seeks a state of balance and harmony for the body where all body systems are working together. The proper flow of energy relieves the tension of stress and anxiety.
Caregivers of the elderly often know they are stressed but are too tired, frustrated, or busy to do anything about it. Many caregivers don’t want to take drugs as that could hamper their care giving duties which are sometimes a 24-hour-a-day challenge. Therefore, finding an alternative that takes little time but can provide great benefits is a win-win situation.
Conditions treatable by acupuncture
The World Health Organization (WHO) lists almost thirty conditions that acupuncture has been proven to treat. Among them are several disorders (listed below) that may be related to stress, suggesting that perhaps acupuncture’s ability to relieve stress plays a role in treating these conditions effectively.
- Disorders of the face and jaw
- Lower back pain
- Neck pain
- High blood pressure
Acupuncture even boosts the immune system, which can be greatly weakened by excessive stress.
As you read the list above, doesn’t that sound like the results of stress that many caregivers experience? Reducing stress and relieving caregivers of the resulting stress would help them in their care giving duties as well as in their general enjoyment of life.
Because stress causes imbalance in the body, practitioners of acupuncture work to restore that balance by stimulating the meridians. This stimulation acts as a sort of opening – like releasing a dam for the water to flow through – for the body’s energy to flow. As this occurs, the body begins to respond with more relaxed muscles, improved cardiovascular health, and other anti-stress responses.
Acupuncture seeks to tap into the body’s inherent healing and relaxation mechanisms. It even stimulates the release of endorphins into your bloodstream, and endorphins are definitely the “anti-stress” hormones! Caregivers, and even the elderly they care for, should seriously consider looking into acupuncture as a valuable stress relief alternative.