Acupuncture for Holiday Stress and Anxiety
by Becky Rubright, A.P. : December 2009

The holidays are coming! Now the question is - how do you emphasize that exclamation mark - as a joyous call to good times or as a panic stricken plea for more time and some sanity? Your answer can depend on your age, your gender, how well you get along with your family, and just how many of them you’re expected to feed over the next 2 months! When did we lose sight of what this time of year could really be about? When Christmas advertisements hit us before Halloween has even arrived, you can see that the pressure is on. We have to ask ourselves, pressure to do what exactly?

The stress from the holiday season comes from so many areas. Kids are clamoring for all the newest stuff, with no concept of what that stuff does to your checkbook. Extended family can be coming to town and you have to make room for them, or else make plans to travel somewhere else and be on the opposite side of the same stress, dealing with airports or long car trips. And that’s if you get along with your family in the first place! Throw strained relationships on top of the pile and you’ve got an even bigger pile! Now add the hassle of shopping for gifts, the anxiety and worry of the finances, and something unforeseen that is bound to pop up last minute. Worst of all are the demands on your time, whether we’re talking about getting all the stuff I just mentioned done or even something that’s supposed to be enjoyable, like all those holiday parties.

There is another problem that increases during the holiday season; depression. Imagine now that all the stresses that have to do with having too much to do were taken away. There are souls out there with no family to go see or coming to see them. There are lonely people without partners or children or many social connections. The constant emphasis on these things during the holiday season can cause a great deal of emotional pain. Even people who do have circles of friends and loved ones can suffer from depression because of the stress of painful memories associated with this time of year.

What on earth does any of this have to do with acupuncture? Well, besides the many physical or function health problems that can be addressed with acupuncture and Chinese medicine, they also excel at simply dealing with stress. Acupuncture is excellent for relaxation, with patients reporting after a treatment that they feel soothed but also energized. I have heard an acupuncture treatment described as being a cross between a nap and a workout. A treatment can calm your emotions and leave you feeling lighter yet more grounded at the same time. The phrase “off-kilter” is easily known to us as feeling slightly off balance or “out of whack”, all words we use to describe not feeling quite ourselves. Acupuncture, by balancing our “qi”, or energies, helps to harmonize our systems and lends itself perfectly to making this time of year less draining and more of the celebration it was meant to be.

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