Can Acupuncture Treatments Relieve Work-Related Stress?
When you think of Wall Street brokers having a power lunch, you probably imagine a dark-paneled dining room, steaks, and martinis. That’s the cultural vision of what powerful people do at lunchtime. However, there’s a new trend that’s developing and it’s one that might surprise you. Some of Wall Street’s most successful brokers are blocking out time in the middle of the work day for acupuncture.
While acupuncture might not seem like an obvious choice for financial movers and shakers, there’s actually a very good reason for its popularity. Acupuncture is commonly used as a treatment for pain, but it also provides reliable relief from the stress and tension of work.
The Rising Popularity of Acupuncture
Irina Logman is the founder of Advanced Holistic Center, a health and wellness practice based in New York. The Center has multiple locations around the country, but its Manhattan locations are the ones seeing a big uptick in stress-related appointments.
She says that the Center’s main source of income are New Yorkers working in finance. “I’ve definitely noticed an overall growing trend. When I began my practice in Brooklyn 15 years ago, I never imagined that I’d be in the hub of Wall Street treating the finance crowd… but, it makes sense.”
She points out that people who work in finance are often overworked and stressed out. Some may pop a pill or two to help them manage non-physical symptoms of anxiety, depression, or insomnia, but there’s an increasing awareness that medication is only a short-term solution.
The trend, it seems, is toward seeking out holistic and natural lifestyle changes that can help people balance their lives and emotions, leaving them better equipped to handle work challenges and still have the mental and emotional energy to enjoy their lives away from work, too.
Many of the Center’s clients book appointments during their lunch hours. It’s a way of alleviating stress and tension without needing to take a long lunch or fit an evening appointment into their family obligations.
How Does Acupuncture Relieve Stress?
The key to understanding the acupuncture trend of Wall Street is understanding how acupuncture works to relieve stress. There’s ample research into the use of acupuncture for pain relief and management, but its use as a treatment for stress is not as well-established.
People who receive acupuncture treatments for pain often report an elevated sense of relaxation and well-being after a treatment. The explanation for this is that acupuncture, when done properly:
- Removes pain by accessing pressure points and sending healing messages to the body
- Raises the patient’s pain threshold, thus reducing their negative reactions to pain
- Releases happy hormones called endorphins into the body
Endorphins are the same hormones that cause the condition known as “runner’s high.” They can be released by any vigorous exercise.
When your body or mind are stressed, you’re in “fight or flight” mode, which means that your body’s sympathetic nervous system is at the wheel. When that happens, it’s virtually impossible to relax because your entire body is poised for combat.
Endorphins flip a switch in your body and put the parasympathetic nervous system, or relaxation system, in control. As stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol leave your body, you’ll experience a subsequent relaxation of your muscles and your mind.
The Keys to a Good Acupuncture Relationship
Logman points out that even when Wall Street’s power brokers seek out acupuncture, there’s a learning curve involved. After all, acupuncture is an invasive procedure. People who aren’t accustomed to it may need some time to acclimate.
For that reason, she recommends having a good talk with your acupuncturist before initiating treatment. “Especially for first-timers, [there are] many different sensations. The practitioner should always create an environment where the patient feels free to describe these sensations and ask if they are normal.”
For patients who prefer a less-invasive procedure, Logman sometimes recommends using heat lamps that hover over the most stressed and painful parts of the body. As patients progress, she may move on to something called e-stim, which partners traditional acupuncture needles with a gentle electric impulses to stimulate the muscles.
Whatever your treatment preferences, it’s always a good idea to choose a practitioner who makes you feel comfortable.
Wall Street’s elite are seeking out alternative treatments for stress. While medications that treat anxiety, depression, and pain may offer short-term solutions, there’s a growing trend toward holistic treatments that can relieve stress and anxiety without the use of prescription drugs. Acupuncture may be the best way to keep stress at bay.