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Stress Management


At South Jersey Sports Acupuncture, we emphasize stress management. Keeping the stress response under control is essential for recovery, health, and overall well-being. Sleep is at the top of the pyramid for health, followed by diet and then exercise and fitness.

How Acupuncture Helps With Stress Relief

Acupuncture therapy works well for stress management in the same way it works well for so many other issues: by calming and normalizing the signals in the nervous system. By resetting the nervous system, acupuncture treatment mitigates many symptoms and brings the body back into balance. It’s an effective, natural stress relief tool!

There are two divisions of the autonomic nervous system: the sympathetic (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic (rest and digest). Due to the stressors of modern life, most of us spend way too much time in fight or flight mode and not enough time resting and digesting. In general, stress is okay IF we have time to recover from it.

However, endless deadlines, goals, traffic, intense workouts, arguments, personality conflicts, noise, financial worry, and many other things can contribute to our minds and bodies perceiving that we are under stress. Most of the time we are unconscious of how worked up we are, and so we sustain this stressful pace until we start to break down. The breakdown can show up as insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, depression, headaches, and other physical issues.

Regular acupuncture treatments can help alleviate the body’s response to stressors. Because acupuncture triggers the parasympathetic rest-and-digest state, it's common for recipients to experience deep relaxation and peaceful rest during a treatment as the nervous system resets. This is a healthy state of balance.

Over time, acupuncture therapy provides cumulative benefits to the body that help it handle stress more easily. Thus, the patient becomes more relaxed, healthy, and balanced overall. As the body feels less stressed on a daily basis, its rhythmic cycles and functions will begin to normalize, and symptoms such as irritability, fatigue, indigestion, insomnia, and a host of other problems will disappear. Thus, the patient is restored to health both in body and mind.

Stress Management and Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)

Vagus nerve stimulation with electro-acupuncture can help with many stress and inflammatory disorders. The vagus nerve (the 10th cranial nerve) provides a two-way ‘information highway’ between the organs of the body and the central nervous system in the brain. This nerve is responsible for regulating myriad bodily functions, such as your heart rate, sweat response, and digestive process. Chronic stress can reduce the ability of the vagus nerve to restore the body and organs, including the heart and digestive system. Studies link inhibition of the vagus nerve to heart disease, inflammatory bowels, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune disorders.

Many clients measure the success of vagus nerve stimulation treatments by measuring heart rate variability (HRV). Heart rate variability is the beat-to-beat interval between heartbeats, which improves as the tone in the vagus nerve strengthens. HRV has recently been recognized as an important indicator to estimate the degree of resistance toward stress. This knowledge can help us fine-tune our approach as we treat our clients and help them develop effective stress management techniques.