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Anxiety and the Bailout

Dec 16, 2010 | Health - Conditions

Acupuncture, Anxiety, and the Bailout

By Jill Ellen Smith L.Ac., M.Ac.
For the Howard County Women’s Journal – October 2008

So, we’ve been ‘bailed out’. Then what’s all the worry I hear? Why are so many people fretting and fearful about the economic situation? Because people are responding to the media’s coverage of businesses failing, unemployment, possible tax increases etc etc., that’s why! Gas prices, banks closing, and jobs in jeopardy.

What can an acupuncturist do? Some people ask; should I start acupuncture at this time? Should I stay in acupuncture treatment if I’m already a patient? Shouldn’t I save my money instead? Is this a wise investment of my money?

What I am finding in my practice now are frightened and anxious people. I’m seeing an increase in sleep disorders, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, irritability and depression…just to name a few. These are stress responses to an uncertain time in our lives. The economy is wobbling in a big way; people are worrying about paying bills and holding onto jobs. This is not a time to get sick. Quite frankly, the price of getting sick is a lot higher than not… and ‘NOT’ getting sick is all about prevention. And that is where acupuncture and Chinese medicine comes in.

As I’ve said many times… Chinese medicine is the mother of preventative medicine.

Remember, the 5 Element Tradition I always speak about. (Wood-Spring; Fire-Summer; Earth—Late Summer; Metal—Autumn.) Well, as we enter Winter, we enter the Water Element… and the Water element’s emotional charge is all about Fear. Generations ago, Winter would arrive and many would wonder if their harvested reserves would hold them over until spring. Is there enough wood to heat the house (or cave) until the warmer weather arrives. Etc? In Winter we enter the deep Unknown. How long will it last? Will we make it through? This generates fear and calls up our courage… This is an existential challenge on a Spirit level but it also impacts a person profoundly on a Body level as well. It can be subtle, like the vague tension in the neck or more severely like the migraine, elevating blood pressure, out of control blood sugars and so on.

Your acupuncturist is trained to support you on all these levels, and to help restore balance. And most importantly to help you to maintain your homeostatic balance through troubled times. While we can’t necessarily stop the stressors in our lives, we CAN impact our physical and emotional response to them. As we restore and maintain our homeostatic balance, we can better cope with life and also not contribute to the stressors that show up.

For example, I recently treated a woman who had begun to have sleep disruptions. She was so agitated about the presidential election and the economy she was waking in the middle of the night and unable t o fall back to sleep. The cumulative sleep deprivation aggravated her underlying low back issues, so her back spasms flared. All this contributed to her mood making her a lot more irritable. In this state, she was less able to cope with the daily media reports and was having a lot more outbursts with her children and husband. — Get the picture? Treatment helped her to return to a normal sleep pattern. Acupuncture helped to strengthen her qi (her energy), and remove some energetic blocks that were causing her disharmony. We also worked on nourishing her Blood which, believe it or not, was contributing to her back pain. She is delighted as now she only needs maintenance support. She got her life under control and is better able to respond effectively to the challenges ahead. She was thrilled at the money she saved, because she was concerned about the high cost of medications and doctor visits for chronic pain problems.

A gentleman came in last month with anxiety and depression. He was having a constant ‘tickertape’ of thoughts and couldn’t be still or quiet his mind. He was becoming so depressed he was not functioning as well in his management position at a local college. He couldn’t get motivated or bring projects to completion. His libido was suffering and his marriage was becoming more conflictual. After a series of clearing treatments (to clear blocks and allow more optimum flow of energy), he became more energetic and able to focus at work. His mood began to lift and he and his wife even managed a weekend at Ocean City…just what they needed to get back on track. The pressures and uncertainty at work, while unchanged, are not the all consuming preoccupation in his mind. He is feeling more balanced and is in better partnership with his wife. They know they will manage whatever ‘shows up’ together.

Get the picture?

Life is throwing us all some curves right now. This is a time to discern carefully where we spend our money. Reallocation and reprioritizing is the name of the game. Acupuncture treatment and the life coaching that is part of the process is the best spent money I can think of. In case you are wondering…yes, I go too. I’m brown bagging it and I’ve stopped the Starbucks, among other things.

I prefer making choices that enhance my functioning as a mother, wife, acupuncturist,  house manager, etc.  (you know what I’m talking about I’m sure!).

Remember, you’re not alone. We’re all in this together. And there is a lot of accessible support out there.

Stay cozy in the months ahead… and eat a lot of comfort foods (ie., roasted root vegetables, stews, pumpkin bread). Have a great hibernation.

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