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Why You Should See an Acupuncturist if You're Stressed

Mental Health
Author name: Ashley Donato, Certified Diplomate of Oriental Medicine


acupuncture photo

So you’ve just had your latest check-up with your doctor, your labs look okay, and there are no concerns from your imaging report or new medications prescribed.

But a harassing inner voice keeps telling you that you are not quite 100 percent. You do not feel well on a regular basis. You are waking up in the middle of the night, the kids don’t get out of bed until the school bus is honking out front, and you barely made it to work on time yesterday.

Maybe your neck is stiff from sitting at a desk all day, and your boss wants an Excel spreadsheet ready for the presentation in an hour. Basically, you are feeling enormous pressure to perform at work and manage your daily home life, which has become unmanageable.

You originally scheduled your appointment because you had a strange back pain when you inhaled deeply. After your exam, your doctor tells you that you are stressed. His advice is to “get better sleep, exercise a little more, and eat right.” You know that’s true, but how can you follow these self-care guidelines on a regular basis?

The American Psychological Association (APA) has commissioned an annual nationwide survey as part of its Mind-Body campaign called “The Stress in America TM survey.” The results from 2022 say that the United States is one of the most stressed out nations in the world, with Montana named the least stressed out state and Louisiana named the most stressed out state.

The most significant stressors listed by 87 percent of participants were inflation, supply chain issues, global uncertainty, and the invasion of Ukraine.

Nearly 8 out of 10 Americans say that the COVID-19 pandemic is still a significant stressor in their lives.

The stress effect

What kind of effect does stress have on our bodies? Insomnia, pain, and headaches, to name a few, can really ruin your day. As an acupuncturist, I treat many different types of stress. You can have acupuncture for stress that is related to a chronic illness or injury, mental stress that is leading to a mental illness like anxiety or insomnia, or stress related to something joyful, like training for a marathon and completing it, even though you thought you were going to die at the finish line.

Stress is a natural component of any symptom or illness, whether physical, mental, or joyful. Stress can manifest as disharmony anywhere in the body if not managed over time.

Remedies for stress on a small scale

If you do not have time or cannot change your lifestyle due to work, school, family, or financial reasons, start by doing small exercises such as:

  • Mindfulness meditations (body scan, focus meditation, or mindful stretching)
  • Practicing sleep hygiene (stopping all electronics, phone, TV, etc., and reading 30 minutes before bed)
  • Taking Epsom salt soaks (warm salt soaks relieve pain as well as reduce stress)
  • Nutrition (try reducing caffeine and carb intake as a start)
  • Exercise (gentle movement at home or in your office when you can)
  • Creating a relaxing space or environment (adding aromatherapy, spa music)
  • Massage

If you are still experiencing stress or symptoms that are not resolved with these simple techniques, then it is time to make an appointment with a professional acupuncturist for an evaluation and a plan that is customized to your unique symptoms.

Acupuncture for stress and…

At an acupuncture visit, you can expect that the provider will listen to your chief and secondary complaints and perform a tongue diagnosis and a pulse diagnosis.

This is a fundamental part of what a professional acupuncture provider performs to detect the deepest clues about the patient’s vitality, the quality of digestion, the circulation of blood flow through the organs, and the circulation of life-force energy.

Imbalances and disharmonies can be detected long before chronic disease manifests with tongue and pulse diagnosis. The acupuncture provider will design a treatment plan based on his or her findings and prescribe a regimen of acupuncture treatments for an optimal outcome.

So what happens during acupuncture? The patient rests comfortably for about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the severity of the condition, age, and bodily constitution. Often patients will ask me, “Well, what do I do while I’m lying here - do I need to meditate?” And I reply, “The only thing you need to do during an acupuncture treatment is let the needles do the work!”

Acupuncture increases circulation, floods the brain with endogenous opioids, releases serotonin and Noradrenalin, and calms the nervous system simultaneously during every treatment.

Those are the benefits. If you are stressed out or weakened from stress and cannot get relief through some simple techniques, there is hope with acupuncture!               

Make an appointment today        

To schedule an appointment with Ashley at the Healthy Life Center – Coconut Point, call 239-468-0050.       


Ashley Donato, A.P., L.Ac, Dipl. O.M., M.S., is a board-certified Diplomate of Oriental Medicine by the NCCAOM and a licensed acupuncture physician in the state of Florida. Specialties and interests include acupuncture for pain management, women’s health, integrative oncology, geriatrics, veterans, behavioral health and recovery, and clinical trials.