Anxiety and the Friendly Needles of Acupuncture

Anxiety and the Friendly Needles of Acupuncture | Houston Moms Blog

My Story

Everyone experiences stress and anxiety. You can try to prevent it by avoiding triggers, lessen the effects by adopting a positive attitude, or find an outlet for it when it threatens to derail you. The worst thing you can do is just to live with it. It catches up with you someway, somehow. 

There was a point in time not too long ago when I suddenly struggled with a bout of anxiety. Nothing specific triggered it. I guess it had been building up for…ever? Looking back at the last several decades makes me wonder how I coped for so long. Someone suggested it was likely the writing that saved me. This is probably true.

I started keeping a journal in elementary school. Back then I called it a “diary” and I did indeed write “Dear Diary” at the beginning of each entry. It had a little lock on it because one can never be too careful. Heaven forbid someone discover the classified recounting of third grade life:: “Tomorrow is field day” and “I wrote a letter to Chad Allen“. At some point as a teenager I began my thoughts with “Dear God” followed by all the angst and heartbreak that accompanied those years. As a young adult, I started quite a few entries with “I HATE {enemy}. He is such a MORON.” You know how it is.

Over the years, I just absorbed the effects of living a life of unpredictability and mild crises. I never played sports and was not particularly active, so this natural outlet for stress didn’t exist. I did not have the self-awareness to realize that I had been in denial about the traumas of life, most from eons ago, until well after my motherhood journey had begun. And I only really became aware of the concept of self-care recently, even though I had always heard that mothers need to put themselves first too. Eventually, I found myself in unfamiliar territory:: anxiety. 

The Healing

My bout was intense but relatively short. I credit a variety of things for my miraculously speedy rise out of the pit. One is my faith–I leaned into it real hard and read a series of super uplifting faith-based books. Another is what I call “Facing the Truth”. I have always lived by the mantra that you should never look back, but apparently, sometimes you should. Then there is the element of community. There are not enough words to describe what having a loving community can do for someone. Props to my people. I adopted more exercise, less perfectionism. And I would be remiss not to give a big shout-out to another aspect of my continuing wellness:: acupuncture.

Like A Spa Visit But With Needles

People use acupuncture to help alleviate physical symptoms such as muscular pain. Patients can also use it to address mental health issues related to anger, depression, anxiety, insomnia, mood swings brought on by PMS, and more. 

I am not especially into natural healing nor am I particularly knowledgeable about  Traditional Chinese Medicine, but I do know from biology class that the body is an intricately designed system. It requires everything to work together in order to function at its best. Acupuncture is based on the idea that when there is disharmony and imbalance in our bodies, our minds will suffer as well. So when I was in the thick of it and someone suggested I visit an acupuncturist, I gave it a shot {see what I did there?}.

Picture this:: I’m lying in a comfortable recliner, shoes off, blanket draped over my lap, eyes closed, soft music playing in the background, solitude, and a faint scent of fancy essential oils in the air. I’m super relaxed and if tired enough, can easily fall asleep. One more thing, I also have a dozen tiny needles sticking out of my body. Welcome to acupuncture!

But when some people hear “acupuncture” all they really hear is “NEEDLES”. Do not fear; these are baby needles. Measuring about the width of a strand of hair and less than 2 inches long, these babies stimulate specific anatomical points on the body to help your Qi flow better. Qi regulates our emotional, mental, and physical balance. Physical trauma, emotional trauma, poor diet, and other stresses can block Qi. We feel the effects of the imbalance in the form of ailments. Acupuncturists use these small disposable needles to stimulate acupoints which help promote our body’s natural healing process. 

What To Expect At Your Visit

When you see a TCM practitioner, they will first ask lots of questions to get a sense of what ails you. Sometimes this feels like you’re also talking to a “therapist” {deal alert!}. Then they’ll check your tongue so they can diagnose what is happening inside your body. The acupuncturist will also feel your pulse which reveals the state of your health and well-being. As in any profession, some are better trained and more knowledgeable than others. {At my friend’s first acupuncture visit, her practitioner felt her pulse and knew right away that she once had surgery done on a specific area of her body!}

Once they diagnose you, you will lie down or recline. Then the acupuncturist will place needles on the appropriate accupoints and leave them there for about an hour. If they cannot easily access those points, you’ll have to change into a robe first. The accupoints are often on your limbs but can be elsewhere depending on the treatment. You’ll feel a prick but after that you should not feel anything. You can leave the premises with one sticking out from the top of your head and not even realize it {true story}. 

Now, whenever I’m going through an especially stressful period and unable to shake it, I will happily go for an acupuncture tune up. If you find yourself at the end of your rope, you might want to consider getting jabbed by a bunch of needles too. But if that’s not your thing, you can always journal. I suggest getting one with a lock on it.


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Vicky grew up in Miami, graduated from Boston University, and moved to New York City to work in advertising. She and her husband then had a marvelous adventure abroad, which included the birth of their older son. After almost four years in Beijing, they headed to her husband's hometown of Houston. Their daughter made her debut a few months later and their younger son joined the ranks several years after that. Vicky loves family life and all the adventures, laughs, and lessons that come with it. Though busy raising three kids, she tries to sneak time to tend to her tiny urban garden and come up with ideas to continually make her home a haven. Vicky has been slightly obsessed with raising monarch butterflies in recent years. She’s a writer and communications consultant who dreams of days where she can simply sit by the pool reading a book and drinking lemonade.



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