It’s World Mental Health Day!
A day to open the conversation about mental health and break the stigma. Mental health is something I feel passionate about. There is a strong correlation to our mental and hormonal health and most importantly our overall quality of life.
Firstly, it’s remembering that everyone has mental health, just like everyone has health. We all experience mental health challenges in our life. There are steps we can take to care for our mental wellbeing, our thoughts and feelings, our ability to solve problems and overcome difficulties, our social connections and our understanding of the world around us. I have witnessed and experienced the many benefits of adding acupuncture, herbal medicine, meditation or yoga as part of a holistic approach. In this article I am going to focus on the benefits of acupuncture.
In the west, we see acknowledgement of the link between the mind and body as something new.This is something we’re learning more about and starting to realise. However, within Chinese medicine this has always been in the foundation of how we treat a patient and heal the body. As well as physical functions each organ is also connected to an emotion (see the diagram). For example, the heart is connected to joy. When we experience a shock or trauma, our blood circulation can be affected. Symptoms such as cold hands and feet, insomnia, anxiety, palpitations, chest tightness can appear.
How can acupuncture help with your emotions and help you feel happy?
It increases your sense of well-being: When you receive acupuncture, research studies have shown that it effects neurotransmitters, releasing ‘feel-good’ hormones immediately into your system. Leaving you feeling a sense of joy or bliss.
It relaxes you: You may not believe that very thin acupuncture needles can relax you but they can. Most of my patients fall asleep during treatment and wake up feeling refreshed.
It connects your body and mind: Modern day living leaves it easy to lose that connection especially if you’re always on the go or experiencing any major life change such as birth, marriage, changing jobs, moving, empty nest, perimenopause, health diagnosis, divorce or job loss. Acupuncture brings you into the present moment, making your mind pay attention to your body and what’s going on.
It de-stresses you: Acupuncture balances the nervous system supporting emotional regulation. It moves you out of fight-flight-freeze’ mode, deactivating your sympathetic nervous system. It activates your parasympathetic nervous system leaving you feeling relaxed, happy and focused. One study shows how acupuncture reduces the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Although some cortisol is required to deal with stress, too much can result in mood swings, anxiety and depression
It improves sleep and eases anxiety: Research has found acupuncture can help raise melatonin levels. Melatonin is a hormone that is responsible for controlling our sleep and wake cycle with reduced amounts causing insomnia and sleep disturbances. It is also shown to have anti-anxiety effects. Melatonin is often given as a medication to anxiety patients, fertility patients and menopausal patients.
All sounds good? Why not add acupuncture into your holistic health care plan? It’s important to remember acupuncture can’t work alone. Making lifestyle changes like diet, exercise and mindfulness practices will all be involved. Your acupuncturist will be able to guide and support you in making these changes. Acupuncture is also a safe and effective treatment to use in conjunction with medication and talk therapy.
This world mental health day, start the process, check-in with yourself, reach out to a friend and take the first step – it doesn’t have to be with acupuncture.
Take care of yourself and take care of each other,
‘Without mental health there can be no true physical health’
–Dr Brock Chisholm, the first Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO)