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“Burnout” seems to be the latest wellness hot topic, appearing everywhere from appearing in podcast episodes to clinical research papers. But, this phrase – and our desire to overcome overwork – started decades ago when the phrase was coined in the 1980s

While hustle culture and the expectation to work harder, faster, and longer is still prevalent in 2024 and beyond, we are becoming more aware of the physical, mental, and emotional toll that excessive work and chronic stress has on our health. 

For now, few of us are able to (or want to) give up our livelihoods to embrace the slow life. But here’s the good news: you can still achieve your goals and avoid the consequences of burnout. 

The secret? Acupuncture for stress. 

Understanding Stress and Burnout

Before we dive into how acupuncture can help you overcome stress and heal from (or prevent) burnout, it’s important to understand what these issues really are. 

Stress is a bad thing that should be avoided at all costs, right?

Not quite. Stress is the body’s natural reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. It can be physical, mental, or emotional and is triggered by a variety of factors, from daily hassles to major life changes. 

The body responds to stress by releasing hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, preparing us to either “fight” or “flee” from a perceived threat. This response is essential for our survival. But, it becomes problematic when it’s constantly activated by the stresses of modern life. 

Unpacking Burnout 

While burnout is related to chronic stress, it’s not the same thing. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. 

Burnout occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet the constant demands of daily life. Unlike ordinary stress, which can be motivating in short bursts, burnout drains your energy and reduces your productivity. If you’re in burnout mode, you’re likely to feel increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful – even about things you used to enjoy and love, 

Signs and Symptoms of Burnout

Burnout can become a serious threat to your health. Recognizing the signs and symptoms early is the key to staying on top of your health and living a more balanced lifestyle. You may be on the verge of burnout if you experience: 

  • Emotional exhaustion: Feeling drained and depleted of emotional strength.
  • Detachment: A sense of feeling numb or indifferent towards work or activities you once enjoyed.
  • Reduced performance: Declining interest and performance in work-related tasks, often extending to personal tasks and hobbies.

Why Dealing with Burnout Matters 

When we’re chronically stressed or overwhelmed, it’s easy to push self-care and rest to the bottom of your to-do list. However, ignoring the signs of stress and burnout can lead to a domino effect of health issues. Sleepless nights, increased pain, tension headaches, and digestive issues are common early signs. These issues may seem temporary, but they can affect how you show up in every area of your life, from work to home to play. 

When left unmanaged, these issues grow into more serious chronic conditions like high blood pressure or heart disease. Understanding stress and burnout is the first step toward managing their effects and staying on top of these preventable health issues. 

Stress and Disease: An Oriental Medicine Perspective 

Managing stress – and its effects – often requires a well-rounded approach. “Stress is the cause of all diseases. In Western medicine, if the cause or reason of an illness is ‘unknown,’ it is generally assumed that it is a symptom caused by stress or a neurological disease,” explains Dr. Ko. 

“In modern medicine, disease and symptoms caused by stress are treated separately. For this reason, there is little that can be done to help these symptoms. However, in Oriental medicine, the cause of these symptoms is that the body’s balance is broken, so acupuncture and herbal medicine are used to restore balance. The difference between Oriental medicine and Western medicine is that Oriental medicine treats it with a proper understanding of cause and effect.”


How Acupuncture for Stress Can Help You Overcome Burnout

If you’re feeling the effects of stress, you may be looking for ways to prevent burnout. But searching for that elusive “off switch” to calm your mind and relax your body can feel like just another task for your to-do list. 

That’s where acupuncture comes in. Acupuncture is a scientifically proven natural method to ease the effects of stress – both mentally and physically. The best part? It’s a passive self-care practice that has a compounding effect. The more consistently you get acupuncture, the better your body becomes at warding off stress’s negative effects and growing more resilient. 

Here are a few of the ways acupuncture helps you fight stress and prevent burnout: 

  • Acupuncture Reduces Stress Hormones
    When you’re stressed, your body produces more cortisol, a hormone involved in the “fight or flight” response. Acupuncture helps lower the levels of cortisol, which triggers your brain and nervous system to switch from stress mode to relaxation mode.
  • Acupuncture Stimulates the Nervous System
    Acupuncture offers a way to communicate with your nervous system. When certain points are stimulated, the sensation sends signals to the brain to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). By doing so, acupuncture helps decrease the overall stress response and helps you slip into a relaxed and calm state of mind.
  • Acupuncture Increases Blood Flow
    Did you know that stress can cause your blood vessels to constrict? This effect limits the blood flow to various parts of the body, which can eventually lead to poor organ function and chronic disease. Acupuncture stimulates the body’s natural ability to dilate blood vessels and improves circulation through the body. Better blood flow means more oxygen and nutrients can reach your tissues and maintain your health.
  • Acupuncture Enhances Sleep
    Quality sleep is one of the first things to go when we are stressed. Unfortunately, sleep is necessary for overcoming stress and burnout. Acupuncture can help, mainly by improving the brain’s ability to regulate sleep and stick to a healthy circadian rhythm. It also encourages your body to spend more time in restorative deep sleep. By improving the balance of sleep-regulating chemicals and reducing stress, acupuncture makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Acupuncture Naturally Boosts Mood
    Through the stimulation of specific acupuncture points, the body releases endorphins and serotonin—chemicals in the brain that boost your mood and provide pain relief. This process helps to naturally elevate your mood, reduce anxiety, and mitigate symptoms of depression, offering a sense of well-being and happiness.

Other Ways to Manage Burnout Naturally 

Acupuncture is a great tool in the fight against stress and burnout. But there are other strategies you can adopt in your daily life to overcome stress and work towards a healthier balance: 

  • Use Herbal Medicines
    At 120 Acupuncture Clinic, we help the patients overcome emotional stress and related symptoms with acupuncture treatment and herbal medicine together.

    According to Dr. Ko, “Stress is a symptom that occurs when the balance is broken. When the balance is broken, many diseases appear in our body. When we are stressed, the energy in our body is used up to the amount of stress. Therefore, the nutrients and other deficiencies that our body needs must be filled with herbal medicine. Oriental treatment uses acupuncture to stabilize the mind and body (65% of the treatment) and maintain balance, while herbal medicine boosts immunity and restores the body (35% of the treatment). Therefore, the two treatments must be combined together to achieve the best treatment effect.”

    So, along with regular acupuncture visits, leveraging the power of adaptogenic, stress-fighting herbal formulas can help you reclaim your balance even faster.
  • Prioritize Your Sleep
    Quality sleep is foundational to managing stress and preventing burnout. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine and keep a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends, to regulate your body’s internal clock.
  • Exercise Regularly
    Physical activity is a powerful stress reliever. It doesn’t have to be intense; even daily walks outside or gentle yoga can significantly reduce stress levels. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters, and helps clear your mind.
  • Eat a Balanced Diet
    Nutritious food fuels your body and mind, enhancing your ability to cope with stress. Focus on a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Limit intake of caffeine and sugar, which can work against you by increasing cortisol and stress levels.
  • Practice Mindfulness or Meditation
    These practices help center your thoughts and calm your mind, reducing the effects of stress. Just a few minutes a day can make a difference
  • Set Healthy Boundaries
    Learn to say no to additional responsibilities if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Setting clear boundaries between work and personal time is crucial, especially in a world where technology can blur these lines.

Balance Over Burnout: Get Acupuncture for Stress Relief at 120 Acupuncture Clinic

Addressing the effects of stress isn’t just about avoiding negative health outcomes; it’s about reclaiming our ability to enjoy life to the fullest.

“Every day, many patients come to our clinic and get treatment for emotional symptoms, such as stress, burnout, anxiety and depression,” explains Dr. Ko. Acupuncture offers a simple, gentle, and enjoyable way to ease the pressures of the modern world and feel your best, even in the face of stress. It’s a natural, time-tested therapy that asks nothing of you but to make time for yourself. 

How quickly can you bounce back to balance? That all depends on your lifestyle, how severe your stress is, and other health factors. But in most cases, 3 to 4 months of treatment with both acupuncture (2-3 times per week) and herbal medicine (twice per day) can help relieve stress by up to 70-80%.

Dr. Ko and the team at 120 Acupuncture Clinic in Studio City, Los Angeles are here to help you reset, restore, and reclaim your best work-life balance. Book your appointment today, or call us at 1-818-980-7979 to get started. 

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