Los Angeles is the most stressful city in the U.S, according to Forbes magazine. Sure, the weather is fine and the Pacific Ocean may spill onto sun-drenched beaches, but we’re often too busy at work to notice. And whether we’re involved in the highly competitive entertainment industry or in technology or personal services, our fast paced life generates enormous personal stress. Additionally, there is what Forbes calls a “toxic brew of job woes, high costs of living, traffic congestion and poor air quality.” The high stress level of Angeleans is also evident in our hostile behavior behind the wheel.
Recently, on my way to work, I was forced to stop for a convertible BMW that was blocking the intersection of Sunset and Vine. As I honked impatiently, the man behind the wheel stood up, pulled an earpiece from each ear and waved them at me furiously, as if to say: “Don’t bother me! Can’t you see I’m on a conference call?!”
Of course, there are those who will tell you they thrive on stress. And indeed, they may interpret stressful events in a way that differs from most of us. But most Angeleans need some form of stress reduction. And for many of us, Acupuncture is our method of choice.
When we find ourselves in a dangerous situation, our sympathetic nervous system generates the “fight or flight” response. Our heart rate speeds up, our pupils dilate and our digestion temporarily slows, directing blood to our extremities so that we can either fight or flee. While we Angeleans may not find ourselves in a continual high-level crisis, we do often spend our days in a chronic, low-level “fight or flight” emotional state that depletes our energy reserves and depresses us emotionally.
How Does Acupuncture Reduce Stress?
Acupuncture alleviates stress by releasing endorphins, the brain’s own pain-killing chemicals. Acupuncture also improves circulation of blood throughout the body, which oxygenates the tissues and removes waste chemicals such as cortisol. Acupuncture also calms the heart, relaxes the muscles and lowers blood pressure. This is a result of acupuncture’s ability to “reboot” the autonomic nervous system. Recent neuro-imaging studies at the Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have proven that acupuncture can decrease activity of the emotion-generating limbic system, as well as activate areas of the brain associated with relaxation. So, what is a stress-reducing acupuncture treatment like?
A stress treatment at a clinic such as Live Well Chiropractic and Pilates Center in Los Angeles starts with a conversation. The acupuncturist, Charles, will first establish that the symptoms you exhibit (headaches, shoulder pain, backaches, insomnia, poor memory) are stress-related rather than injury-related. Hair-thin needles would then be placed at points associated with body aches and at points related to stress itself. This may include points in the ear. You would then relax and let the treatment work.
In addition to biophysical benefits, acupuncture can help you experience a relaxed yet poised state in which perceptions become unclouded and vitality reemerges. And perhaps best of all, you may begin to see stress as a self-manageable condition rather than a defining feature of the Los Angeles lifestyle.