How Acupuncture Is Helping Me Beat Anxiety

As you may or may not know from my previous post about travel, I’ve suffered from increasing anxiety in the later part of my twenties.

It all started way back when I began travelling further afield and because holidays like that often had a longer wait time it meant I was in for months of inner turmoil and distress and it kept getting worse and worse until one day - BANG - I’d just had enough of it.

Up until the time I decided to actually deal with it though, I’d tried battling through which seemed the ‘bravest’ option and the only option which seemed available to me at the time. Truthfully, all that really did was invite other stressors and triggers in where they started latching on to other areas of my life and causing even more problems.

This year has seen the start of a positive change to the way I’ve been choosing to live my life and how I’ve been letting things/people affect me. It’s been a year of self discovery where I’ve done some much needed learning about who I am, why my mind works the way it does and questioning how and why I have been letting my anxiety make me feel useless, fragile and unhappy.

In a light bulb moment one day I realised I want to do something about the debilitating fearful thoughts that cloud my mind, judgement and quite frankly spoil things I should be enjoying or looking forward to. You know, those wonderful, wonderful things we live for, the things that give us memories, life experiences and a break from our day-to-day routines - otherwise known as holidays.

I feel like the light bulb moment pinged on right as I’m getting ready to say goodbye to my twenties as if to say come on, let’s jump into your thirties with a fresh level of self-confidence and assertive belief in myself that I know has always been there, it’s just been masked by an evil little gremlin that I am slowly but surely pushing out of my life for good.

I’ve learned stress and anxiety are completely natural responses from our bodies and we are equipped with these responses for a reason and are very useful in helping us to identify an imbalance which needs dealing with. Of course, our bodies are fantastic for helping us deal with fear with our natural fight and flight, but in this day and age there is no need for it to kick off so regularly and it just causes us inconvenience.

Our bodies are magnificent and I believe they are absolutely capable of coping with the conflict life can sometimes throw/launch/hurl at us, it’s just sometimes we don’t quite have confidence in that capability which is when fear and anxiety come strolling in and we allow it to take over.

I’ve tried medication and whilst of course that’s always an option, I’d prefer to find a solution which has longevity and removes the problem in the long run without heavy reliance on tablets or pills. So, because this year has been one big goal to reduce, remove and resolve the anxiety I’ve tried some alternative therapies and acupuncture has been one of them and I think it has truly worked wonders.

What is acupuncture and how does it work?

I was originally referred for my very first session of acupuncture for my shoulder which was in a constant state of locked tension (very painful) and I learnt from my acupuncture therapist in general conversation that it’s also a very effective treatment for stress.

If you’re unfamiliar with the practice of acupuncture like I was, it’s the system of ancient Chinese medicine whereby very fine, small sterile needles are inserted into the skin at specific response points throughout the body (known as acu-points). These points are considered to be directly associated with the energy within the body and are used to treat various mental conditions like stress, anxiety, insomnia and physical conditions like nausea, injury recovery, aches, pains and muscle tension and so on.

By ‘wiggling’ the needle at the acupoint, the muscle is stimulated and ‘grabs’ the needle and you feel a subtle dull ache which means the needles are ready and in place. This practice works by improving and restoring efficient bodily function (in my case it was resetting my stress response reaction time, which is extremely quick - not ideal) and it helps promote the natural self-healing process.

I lay flat on the table / bed and let my therapist know when the ache starts to occur and she knows that needle is set and moves onto the next to repeat the same process until you’re ready to ‘rest and reset’.

I’m naturally inquisitive and like to ask questions. My lovely therapist Sue is very patient and is happy to explain what’s happening and why. She said to think of it as two test tubes - one contains your calm and the other contains the opposite - but for whichever reason they are not level and acupuncture works like shaking the tubes up and allowing the contents to settle back to an effective balance.

Where are the needles inserted for anxiety and stress?

I never gave this much thought initially before my appointment, but unlike my shoulder pain where the needles were inserted in various areas around my shoulder itself, my therapist explained she would insert two needles into each wrist and one on the inner area of my elbow as these are direct lines of energy and work within a short amount of time to calm the mind.

What can you expect afterwards?

I think this has worked absolute wonders and these treatments coincide with other methods of anxiety resolution that I’ve been trying - go hard or go home and all that!

This is my second treatment and both times I’ve driven home afterwards in a complete daze (I don’t live far thankfully!) and the rest of that day is spent in a state of doziness which is an oddly pleasant feeling.

In the days that follow I start to feel in control and the unsettling feelings of stress that are usually there simmering away ready to pounce have somehow subsided.

There isn’t really a difference between the results from one session or the other, they’ve both been as effective and because I am quite in tune with my inner self I have definitely sensed a shift toward the right direction.

Does it hurt?
Not at all, you feel the tiniest little pinch from the needle for about a second but it’s not worth worrying about as it barely registers, the needles are so fine.

How long are the needles in for?
You don’t want to overcook yourself so my therapist usually leaves me for about 20 minutes, otherwise I’ll be good for nothing for the rest of the day!

What results can you expect?
Pleasantly tired, calm, at peace and balance has been restored which is not something I’ve felt very often and it’s wonderful.

I would recommend this to anybody who suffers with the debilitating effects of stress and anxiety. I will continue having these sessions until I feel my anxious patterns of behaviour have changed for good, which if I’m honest I don’t think is all that far off (that’s how effective I’ve found it).

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Thank you lovelies xo