CHRONIC STRESS AND your immune system
The statistics are pretty grim. According to The American Institute of Stress, stress is the central cause of 60% of all human illness and disease, with 3 out of every 4 visits to the doctor being related to stress.
A landmark 20-year study conducted by the University of London concluded that unmanaged reactions to stress were a more dangerous risk factor for cancer and heart disease than cigarette smoking.
And a study duplicated by Harvard and Stanford found that high job demands increase the odds of having an illness diagnosed by a doctor by 35%, with long work hours increasing the chances of early death by almost 20%.
Stress is making us sick, and not just sick in the head.
44% of Americans feel more stressed than they did 5 years ago, probably due to the 60% increase in productivity over the last twenty years but with stagnant wages. Meaning, Americans are expected to work harder for the same amount of money.
And get this, stress related ailments cost the nation over $300 billion dollars every year in medical bills and lost productivity. That's $100 billion more than obesity costs. And let's be honest, chronic stress leads to obesity.
It's a never ending cycle of over-work, decreased health, bad food choices, bad overall choices, bad food choices as a way to feel better about bad overall choices, decreased health from bad choices, increased purchases of Snickers and Pizza Hut cheesy crust pizzas, all leading to overall depression and anxiety from every choice you have ever made in your life leading up to this very point of questioning every choice.
It's a never ending cycle.
And while we are expected to work more for the same amount of money, we aren't given many breaks either. The U.S., unlike other industrialized nations, doesn't legally require workers to take time off. Spain and England require 30 days vacation per year, and on average, the French take off 7 weeks of vacation per year. The U.S. average is 10 work days off and 8 national holidays.
We're tired and our immune systems are depleted.
With an increase of chronic disease, we're already experiencing the consequences of our over-worked lifestyle. Anxiety, depression, digestion issues, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain, memory and cognition impairment, lousy moods, chronic pain, lowered immunity, autoimmune diseases, and poor choices at the race track can all be traced back to chronic stress.
But before we get all depressed and stressed out, here's the good news.
ACUPUNCTURE AND STRESS
Acupuncture has been shown to help mitigate the effects of stress, in fact, it's one of the best modalities we have around to help bring our bodies from a stress response back to a state of rest and relaxation. Acupuncture is able to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules which promote homeostasis and balance in the body. Acupuncture has also been shown to release endorphins, deactivate the "analytical brain", improve stressed induced memory impairment and regulate levels of neurotransmitters and hormones such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA.
Acupuncture modulates your cortisol levels, and other feel-good neurotransmitters and reduces your likelihood of getting chronic disease in the future.