The holidays are generally depicted as being a time of joy and serenity, but for many people, the holidays mean busy schedules, financial concerns and family obligations. The pressures of the holidays can affect many people emotionally, physically and spiritually, which often leads to stress, anxiety and depression.
To help alleviate this holiday stress and depression, many people are turning to centuries-old holistic treatments, including Chinese medicine, such as acupuncture, combined with functional medicine. The combination of these modalities is safe and effective tools to smooth and balance what may otherwise be a challenging time of the year. Here are just a few ways Chinese medicine and functional medicine can help you maintain your physical health and spiritual- emotional wellness this holiday season.
Chinese Medicine and the Winter Season
According to Chinese medicine, the cold months of winter are the perfect time of the year to generate your vital energy (Qi) and recharge your body and soul. Winter is the season when things slow down and prepare for their new life in the spring. This is the time of the year when you should reflect on your health and slow down to replenish your emotional/spiritual health, yet the holidays often bring on the opposite of this, by basically forcing your mind and body into the fight or flight reaction; for example, the stress of fighting crowded malls and the anxiety of overspending.
Functional Medicine and the Holidays
Functional medicine, like Chinese medicine, is based on patient-centered healing as opposed to disease-centered healing. So, instead of looking at complaints and symptoms, diagnosing a disease and prescribing drugs to treat the disease, functional medicine examines your major body systems to determine where and why things aren’t working correctly. The ultimate goal is to then correct the dysfunctions and your body will heal itself and function at it’s best. For example, the holidays often include skipping meals, parties and/or overeating, functional medicine treatment often includes lifestyle and dietary modifications; both of which can correct the damages to your system that are the result of irregular diet during the holidays.
Put the Holidays in Perspective
The holidays can be a reflective time, making it an easy opportunity for stress and anxiety to appear. Those who have a low-stress tolerance often worry about the past or the future, which can make the holidays especially stressful. It is essential that you focus on the present and keep things, including the holidays in perspective and stress, like everything else in life, will pass. Planning ahead will help to reduce the stress and anxiety that often occur as a result of last minute plans and it helps you decide what is important to you. Embrace the people who you love whether it’s family or friends – as connections with loved ones and a sense of community are the most healing during times of stress.
Acupuncture for Holiday Stress
Because it has the ability to help your body fall into a state of deep relaxation, acupuncture is a holistic, natural and effective way of treating holiday stress. Acupuncture treatments can correct your body’s imbalances and have a direct effect on how your body manages stress and your emotional and spiritual health.
One of the most amazing features that acupuncture can have on your body is its ability to “repair” your nervous system, which consists of the parasympathetic and sympathetic systems. The calming effect acupuncture has on the nervous system allows your body to switch to the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxing and resting; ultimately giving your body the opportunity to calm down and return to a healthy balance. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for your ability to respond to stress and either take flight or fight. Unfortunately, during the holiday’s many people are stuck in the fight or flight mode which prevents your ability to relax.
Remember, you do not have to do it alone. By involving others in your holiday planning and saying ‘no, thank-you’ to activities that don’t serve you, it gives you room to breathe and enjoy the season. Make time to do something that will help you to relax and that will lift your spirits. Making time to connect with yourself is essential for allowing you to decompress and process everything that is going on; otherwise, you will end up stressed, anxious and depressed, all of which are symptoms of holiday burn-out and not meant to be the end goal of the holidays.
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