‘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 the stress reaction hormones including adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol are secreted and cause heart rate increase, blood pressure to rise, skeletal muscle to tense, digestion to slow and the drawing of energy stores in preparation for an urgent response.
Similarly from a chinese medical systems overview- the consciousness (Shen) perceives a threat, core energy from the Kidney (Yuan Qi ) is summoned and directed for that energy (Qi) to be liberated as the action follows through. The follow through however may not occur and the gathered Qi becomes a constrained quality felt throughout the body as muscle tension and pain, emotionality and dysphoria.
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, long term Qi constraint can become deeply entrenched with consequent physical disease changes depending where in the body that constraint occurs.
Acupuncture, Massage therapy, medicinal herbal formula and Qigong are all highly effective at relieving stress induced muscle tension and calming anxiety. These therapies can also reduce psychological sensitivity such that mental calmness is experienced more frequently. Regularly patients notice increased energy and mental clarity after acupuncture and massage therapy.