‘Stress’ can be defined as any situation which tends to disturb the equilibrium between a living organism and its environment.
In daily life, there are many stressful situations such as the stress of work pressure, scholastic exam stress, psychosocial stress and physical stresses due to trauma and various medical disorders. The “fight or flight” response is the reaction by the nervous system to respond actively where a stress is perceived. During a stress reaction hormones including adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol are secreted and cause heart rate increase, blood pressure to rise, skeletal muscle to shorten, digestion to slow and the drawing of energy stores such as glycogen in for an urgent response.
Similarly from a Chinese medical systems paradigm-When our consciousness (Shen) perceives a threat, energy reserves from the “Kidney” (Yuan Qi = Vital reserves ) are called upon and directed to carry through the required action of fight or flight.
Where threats are perceived and not enacted on over and over again our Qi maybe experienced as muscle tension and pain, emotionality and dysphoria. This pent-up Qi response in TCM terms is called “Yu”, meaning depressed or constrained vital energy, a common scenario since we may not be able to respond as needed.
Stewing over stressful issues stimulates the body to continuously release cortisol and chronic elevated levels can lead to more serious issues such as depressed immunity, increase blood pressure and blood sugar, decreased libido and other metabolic disorders. In TCM parlance,when long term Qi constraint becomes deeply entrenched , physical disease changes may follow in the longterm. Seen in cases where stress leads to significant disease.
Acupuncture, Massage therapy, medicinal herbal formula and Qigong are all tools used to relieve stress-induced Yu patterns, muscle tension and anxiety . These therapies can also reduce psychological sensitivity such that mental calmness is experienced more frequently reducing emotional flare up.
With regular acupuncture and massage therapy, patients notice an increase in energy levels and mental clarity as well as reduced emotional lability.