Not long ago I was at a networking event, where I was asked who my ideal patient was. My immediate answer was that I love to treat stressed out workers. I find them ideal only in that I see a lot of them in my acupuncture practice, and I am able to help almost all of them.
In the wake of the recession of 2008 and 2009, it seems like employees in every shape and form have taken the biggest hit. As large companies are trying to be ever more profitable, they have created an incredibly stressful environment for their employees.
It seems that employers are requiring more productivity from their already-maxed out workers. Many companies are not replacing lost or laid off workers and demanding that the remaining employees take up the slack. Workers are expected to do the work of two or three people, spend longer hours at their jobs and to be available for evening meetings and weekend phone conversations. In addition, these hard-working employees are expected to work for fewer rewards, frozen wages, dwindling perks, and less support from their management.
While this scenario may not be the case for every company, it is certainly true for many. This shift in the workplace takes a toll on employees in a number of ways. First, these workers have less time to spend with their family, doing recreational activities, or to just relax. And second, it’s incredibly stressful to spend the majority of your days overworked and under appreciated.
In Chinese medicine, overwork is considered to be an underlying cause of illness. The stress of working so hard causes both your energy and your emotions to become bound up to the point where you feel like you’re going to explode. Basically, you’re so stressed, that all of your energy is used just to get through the day. Some common symptoms of this kind of stagnation include irritability, insomnia, a feeling of restlessness, a sensation of heat, and poor memory or trouble staying focused.
When this kind of stress continues over time, this bound up stagnation causes you to become depleted, which is the feeling of being completely wiped out. Simply put, your energy is so tied up in coping, that you don’t have the energy for anything else. Some common symptoms of this kind of depletion include overwhelming fatigue, low immunity, poor appetite, digestive problems, and weight gain, especially around your waist.
Most people don’t think about acupuncture and Chinese medicine as a way of coping, but those that do are amazed at how effectively it can reduce workplace stress. An acupuncturist’s plan for treating stress would first focus on getting your energy moving and calming you down. Sometimes all that takes is an acupuncture session or two. However, if you have been trying to cope with the stress and overwork for a long enough time to deplete your energy stores, your practitioner will also need to focus on building your energy back up and restoring your health. In that case, it may take a few more treatments, as well as some dietary modifications or a Chinese herbal formula.
While Chinese medicine can’t find you a new job or get your micromanaging boss transferred to another office, it can help you stay healthier and feel a little less strung out by a crappy job. Give it a try!