In today’s challenging environment regarding health and wellness, there is a lot of anxiety. The novel coronoavirus, COVID-19, has challenged our norms and social structures with real risks for coming down with an infection. This anxiety today can come from the discomfort of the unknowns and the threat of real danger in varying doses to us all. Traditional Eastern Medicine, which I practice, sees any frustration from a discomfort or threat as a “stagnation of qi”, meaning an innate energy in the body (unique from blood or lymph) that is meant to flow, but which can become obstructed. This is just considered a medical fact in the East, no matter if you feel you are handling things well, frustration backs up in our body. When this energy stagnates, it can create easier inflammation, body aches, emotional imbalance, sleep disturbances, vivid dreams, and even irrational behavior. Often exercise and social wellness can help mitigate this (so does alcohol but there are dangerous potential side effects and addictions to manage). It is often something I like to remind my neighbors, that there are other treatments out there that are safe and effective and available in walking distance often for those in the neighborhood.
For at least 2,000 years East Asian culture has recommended acupuncture as one of the most potent and calming ways to move this energy and create more balance in the body during times of stress. From a Western perspective it changes brain and connective tissues body chemistry through natural methods. The needles (more like a filament) are hair thin and are flexible, sterile, one time use, and made of stainless steel. Acupuncturists in the state of Illinois are considered an Essential Non-Emergency Health Care Providers currently, which means we can leave our doors open during the crisis and treat clients in this time of need, while wearing proper protective gear, sanitation and with a low patient flow. Acupuncture is the world’s longest running drug free and side effect free treatment for many issues – but especially stress, pain and anxiety. Our goal is to keep people from ending up in an Emergency Room or hospital as we need those resources to go to those in crisis from this pandemic. If clients do not want to come in or feel more mild symptoms I offer tele-health acupressure sessions where I show points on the body for self-massage and breathing associated with deep relaxation as well as qi gong or energy movement and breathwork.
I have been seeing in the last 2-4 weeks since the current pandemic started an uptick in the level of stress and emotional and physical discomfort from my clients and friends. I hope this is a reminder that beyond healthy eating, lifestyle and exercise, which I deeply feel is critical, acupuncture is a very effective method that restorers as well as moves energy, and has been safely practices for thousands of years, and right here in our local neighborhoods- where our support for our communities is in great need.
By Mitch Harris, Licensed Acupuncturist