Updated: Oct 14, 2020
"It is important to remember it is a personal journey, and even more important to remember not to take it personally."
2020 has been a beast of a year and it has got us all stretched a little thin. Unpredictable, unstable, isolating for some, transitional and emotionally charged in so many ways. Even if you feel like you are handling all of these transitions gracefully, chances are you have been clenching your adrenal glands tightly. During these battleground moments, more than ever, we need to hold space for our mental health. Unaddressed prolonged stress can lead to a domino effect of disruptions such as sleep irregularities, depression, anger, headaches, dizziness, digestive issues, decreased immune function, exacerbated inflammatory conditions, and anxiety.
This is a subject that is very near and dear to me. Not only have I gone through periods of my life having adrenal fatigue, but this is one of the most common things to come across my table. Some of us are just more sensitive to the emotional state of the outside world. Chronic low-grade stress leading to adrenal exhaustion and a hyperactive sympathetic nervous system is almost like a rite of passage in this modern crazy world we live in.
If this is so normal, then why can it result in these chronic situations? Sometimes we can bounce back right away from these stressors, but often they lead to a perfect storm. There is so much happening in your biochemistry - all of it is automatic, and none of it may seem to be under your control. First, adrenal hormones can tend to linger in the system, they take a while to titrate out, or gradually leave your body. Second, those adrenal hormones can create a positive feedback loop. Third, our brains under stress will naturally create reinforcing positive feedback loops. resulting in a "fear of the fear", which becomes its own problem. Fourth the chronic stress makes the adrenal glands “leaky”, or easily triggered. Fifth, the sympathetic nervous system is designed to reinforce and maintain its stress response in its own feedback loop in an effort to protect us; it's a muscle memory that reminds us to avoid this perceived threat again in the future.
To complicate things further, and quite ironically, this same protective sympathetic system stops us from reaching out for supportive help. Throughout our evolution, we have learned that a lion takes out the weakest link. When we start to have feelings of instability, no matter how normal this actually is for people, we automatically hide it because somehow that fear equates to maybe being voted off the island, or worse, being fed to the sacrificial gods. Left hidden and unaddressed, this can lead to all too common spiraling such as fear of having the fear and associated encompassing anxieties.
What many people don’t realize is that there are simple steps to halt unhealthy loops, nourish taxed systems and restore balance to the sympathetic/parasympathetic response. Taxed systems can be repaired and managed. The breakdown in the system is most often not due to something integrally wrong with you, it is matter of internal biology, similar to the process of running down your immune system from chronic stress and catching a bad cold. Although many of us might genetically be predisposed to being more sensitive, very rarely is it to the point of needing long-term medication for long-term stability. However, it is important to note, that some people find it is best suited for them to use an anti-anxiolitic to initially halt or dampen the pathway.
So how do we treat this without the use of pharmaceuticals that so often can lead to dependencies?
Acupuncture alone can work wonders to relieve stress and anxiety. In fact, it has been shown to have statistically significant results in supporting mental wellness. As we get more anxious or even just stressed we tend to hold our energy tightly in our body. Acupuncture safety and naturally restores a sense of calm by providing the body with that deep breath of energy movement. It also works to restore vagal tone, or your parasympathetic response. When your ever-vigilant sympathetic nervous system revs up the fight or flight responses—pouring the stress hormone cortisol and adrenaline into your body—the vagus nerve tells your body to chill out by releasing acetylcholine.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) states that: Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment. A recent study reported that patients with generalized anxiety disorder receiving standard acupuncture had an 86.2% improvement rate.
Of course, there are many options for management and treatment of the stress cascade. And with any experience of chronic stress (and lets be honest, 2020 so far has been a layering of multiple community/global traumas that are causing - without a doubt - traumatic stress for every single one of us), it is of vital important to consider talking to a professional. Having a safe space in which to unpack all of your jangled feelings, all of the anxious thought-loops and fears, can be deeply healing. The therapeutic relationship itself is one in which you can be guided to your sacred inner wisdom, and let go of the burdensome conditioned patterns in thinking which keep the stress-circus going in your mind and body.
Some other self-care tips on stress management that you can easily put into practice
Maintain Proper Nutrition
Maintain Social Support
Get enough sleep
Practice Self Care
Keep Your Mind Sharp
I have spent years working with patients and developing unique protocols to halt unhealthy loops and restore function to crucial pathways using natural supplements, nutrition and acupuncture. Weather you have suffered with anxiety for years, or tend to be just on edge with situations, I have helped hundreds of patients that have come across my table to restore a normal state of function. Please contact me for more information.