World Mental Health Day
It is no secret that I came to the acupuncture profession as a patient seeking help for crippling anxiety. In 2008, I thought I was one of the few suffering from this debilitating and restricting condition that was reducing my life down to nothingness bit by bit. Anxiety stole my life for a short period of time, my social life, my work life and even family life. The reality, I wasn’t the only one, in fact 1 in 3 of us will suffer from anxiety at some point in our life. And I would gamble this figure is probably much higher, as these figures are based on the statistics that get reported. Anxiety feels like such a lonely and isolating condition, yet when you start sharing your experiences so many around you will open up about their experiences. You are not alone, in 2013 there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the U.K.
I have been working with patients with both acute and chronic anxiety for nearly a decade, and I hear the same fears ‘am I going crazy?’ Of-course not, I see it as your body is sometimes working ‘too well’. Elevated levels of stress and anxiety switch the body into sympathetic mode which is ‘fight or flight’ and we need you to be in parasympathetic mode which is responsible for ‘rest and digest’. Our aim in acupuncture is to flip that switch into parasympathetic. This is another reason why many with anxiety may suffer with sleep issues and maybe digestive issues. Acupuncture activates the parasympathetic nervous system, regulates hormones, nuro transmitters and their modulators and also is capable of deactivating the analytical brain responsible for stress and worry.
Acupuncture is a relatively relaxing experience, after discussing patients health current, health history, looking at tongue, pulse, blood pressure and diet we then insert hair fine needles in various parts of the body. The needles are relatively painless, and even needle phobics tend to be relieved by the lack of painful stimulus. I have never had someone discontinue due to the acupuncture needle sensation to date, it’s generally a relaxing experience. My clinic space is a place of support and non judgement, all fears and anxieties are irrational and we know this in our rational minds. The fears and anxieties I have worked with have been so varied, and so debilitating from public speaking, eating in public, travel phobia, relationship anxiety, public places, spending time alone, the list is endless. All of which, however irrational are so real, raw and life impacting in the patients I see.
My top tips to those suffering with anxiety...
Visit your GP if you haven’t already, you may need even need to have blood tests to rule out underlying conditions.
Get acupuncture! You can locate a local qualified acupuncturist by visiting acupuncture.org.uk
Spend time in nature, over stimulation by digital environment can fuel symptoms. Feel grounded and get outside, walk in the park, by the sea, or simply sit in your own garden / local park.
Ditch all caffeine, caffeine is a stimulant. When suffering with anxiety you really don’t want to be consuming anymore stimulants. This could add to palpitations, racing heart, racing thoughts. You may even have a caffeine sensitivity. If tea is your beverage try rooibos, it’s naturally de caffeinated. Coffee lovers, try raw bean coffee grounds. Both recommendations avoid nasty chemicals used in the decaffeination process.
Practice mindfulness, if you are in Leicester I recommend Mindfulness Leicester who also offer Tai Chi classes and mindful bread making courses! find them at https://www.mindfulnessleicester.co.uk