Destressing the Holidays

In the third installment of the NOVEMBER CHALLENGE RECOVERY SERIES Nell Smircina makes her return to the Burn 60 blog to educate us further on the stress reducing benefits of acupuncture... 

Ah… the holiday season is upon us. While it can be a fun and enjoyable time, there’s often so much stress surrounding it. Making time for get-togethers, the constant shopping- or maybe even traveling. It’s a difficult time to keep a constant schedule and continue working out… and what often lacks is our self-care. Making sure you are taking care of your workouts and nutrition is key, but making sure to recognize and handle stress is also crucial. Acupuncture is a tool you may not have considered but it’s an excellent way to de-stress… especially at this time of year!

How does acupuncture help with stress?

Acupuncture is very effective at regulating the nervous system and the endocrine system. These two systems get most affected by stress. We do have a necessary “fight or flight” response to stressful situations, but if we are constantly in that state, our body suffers. Keeping our bodies in that state is like sprinting all the time and never focusing on endurance or recovery. Our bodies need the opportunity to come down from the peaks of stress. Two very important hormones which are related to stress are cortisol and adrenaline. These are hormones which are supposed to help boost our energy during a short term stressful situation but can be damaging if kept in the system for too long.

Adrenaline boosts our energy by increasing our heart rate and respiration rate, two things which do not need to happen long term. Once you’re done pushing yourself or you exit a stressful situation, adrenaline usually can lower. The hormone more affected by chronic stress is cortisol. Cortisol was mentioned briefly in the last blog, but it’s important to note how it works and how it can affect you if it’s not regulated. Cortisol boosts energy by increasing blood sugar so our body can use sugar as energy. This is meant to be a short-term action. Cortisol needs to be at different levels depending on the time of day. You don’t need a huge energy boost late at night. You need to be able to rest and relax. Cortisol irregularities can cause disturbances in sleep, muscle building, blood pressure, heart rhythm, adrenal function and immune responses.

It’s critical we do what we can to regulate our bodies. You’re already on the right track with keeping your diet on point and working out regularly. But as we discussed in the last blog, recovery is key. Recovery from workouts as well as recovery from stress in life. Many of us living here in LA and constantly bombarded with stress: the traffic, work, navigating everything in life…but the best thing we can do is make sure to keep our health optimal by focusing on self-care. Make sure to treat your body right this holiday season so you can be the best version of you and be the best for those around you during this special time of year.