Navigating the Holidays with Acupuncture for Stress and Anxiety​

woman sitting at the table working with laptop at home around christmas tree rubbing eyes for fatigue and headache, sleepy and tired expression.

The holidays are a busy time of year for most of us, and the last thing we’re thinking about when we’re rushing around doing holiday shopping is pursuing acupuncture for stress and anxiety. We get easily wrapped up in holiday planning, baking, attending parties, traveling, and forgetting we need to take care of ourselves.

At the end of the holiday season, we wind up feeling heavy, tired, and probably a little depressed as those stress hormones send our nervous system into overdrive and anxiety symptoms persist. When things are hectic this season, remember it is one of the key times of the year to keep your health and well-being at the top of your to-do list.

Holidays can be very stressful

Stress, a plethora of circulating illnesses, poor party eating and drinking, lack of sleep, and travel all conspire against us this time of year and wear down our immune systems, which can make the mental symptoms and chronic pain we’re already experiencing even worse (thanks, anxiety, and depression). 

So, how do you stay healthy amidst all of the distractions? There are a few simple things you can do to maintain your health right now to start treating anxiety symptoms:

  • Get acupuncture treatment
  • Drink lots of water
  • Take these two supplements: Elderberry and Vitamin D3
  • Seek a therapist to discuss anxiety symptoms
  • Read about anxiety and depression association and how stress impacts your nervous system
  • Journal ways to reduce your anxiety symptoms
  • If recommended by your doctor or therapist, get evaluated for panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or other anxiety disorders

The Benefits of Acupuncture for Stress and Anxiety

No time for an acupuncture treatment? By prioritizing your health, you’ll find you can fit in an hour a week for a bit of Rest and Relaxation in your commitment to reducing anxiety. Not sure you can afford it this season? If you have insurance coverage, you may need to use that or your HSA money before the end of the year.  Call your health plan to check your benefits and learn if they cover acupuncture for anxiety, especially if you have an anxiety disorder. 

The benefits of a few “tune-up” treatments with Chinese medicine treatments, such as acupuncture therapy this time of year, are immense and include:

  • An increase in white blood cells (read: boosted immunity)
  • Precious time to relax, quiet your mind, and unload your stresses on someone whose job it is to listen to you during acupuncture sessions
  • Instant relief from that __________ (fill in the blank): stress, headache, backache, insomnia, digestive discomfort, etc., so you can enjoy that holiday party tonight while you relax and reduce anxiety symptoms


A bonus to visiting my office in NW Portland to explore acupuncture for anxiety is that you are already in one of the premier boutique shopping districts in town. So, before or after your treatment, you can check off those final gifts from your shopping list (further reducing anxiety). Moonstruck Chocolates, anyone?

After acupuncture therapy aimed at treating anxiety, consider the following tips that complement the use of acupuncture in addressing anxiety, mental disorders, and anxiety disorders.

Water intake helps you stay healthy and lowers anxiety

Are you partaking in too much eggnog this holiday season? Alcohol, although a fun part of the holidays, also has some adverse side effects (beyond the obvious hangover potential).

Alcohol can dehydrate you, and it is already so dry this time of year, what with all of the time we spend in heated buildings and cars, so do yourself a favor and increase your water consumption and watch that scaly skin and those chapped lips disappear. 

Acupuncture sessions are typically relaxing, but Chinese medicine requires your body to do some work — even if you aren’t aware of it! That means dehydration is a common physical symptom after acupuncture treatments due to how acupuncture affects your body. Make sure you stay hydrated, especially if you have imbibed recently. Drinking water will help Traditional Chinese Medicine do its job.

When you consume enough alcohol to feel tipsy or drunk, you compromise your immunity. Any sugar in that drink? Even 1 tsp of sugar (about 4g) can depress your immune system for 5 hours — not great for your nervous system or anyone already experiencing an anxiety disorder, a panic disorder, or any other mental health distress. Add to that all of the sweets that are floating around the office or your kitchen, and this can easily lead to round-the-clock immune depression.

Dehydration is NOT ideal for anyone experiencing anxiety and depression or social anxiety disorder. Drinking adequate water can help flush toxins you are exposed to, and it also helps circulate those immune cells (like white blood cells) to different body parts. Reduce anxiety symptoms with the simple task of drinking water.

One reason some turn to alcohol at social gatherings during the holidays is social anxiety disorder. IF being around other people makes you feel anxious or awkward, you might be more likely to accidentally dehydrate yourself by consuming alcohol. Unfortunately, this just ends up worsening most anxiety disorders due to the depressive impact of alcohol. Instead, consider supplementing treatment for anxiety disorders with alternative therapies. Working on specific acupuncture points and pressure points stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and eases some symptoms of mental disorders.

Because acupuncture affects depressive symptoms and elicits a physiological response, scientific evidence has shown a significant reduction in symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and other medical conditions, including those that bring on chronic pain. It’s beneficial in conjunction with talk therapy, conventional treatments, prescription drugs, and Western medicine, and you may find yourself able to manage stress better.

Important Winter Supplements for Anxiety and Depression or Anxiety Disorders

  • Elderberry extract. The black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is a wonderful addition to your family’s daily routine to help with anxiety disorders. It is a safe supplement, even for children, and is clinically proven to prevent illness. Taking it will decrease the intensity and duration of colds and flu if you do get sick. Give your nervous system a boost! Also, it tastes good 🙂
  • Vitamin D3. I once heard a comedian refer to Portland as the “land of eternal evening.” I find this to be a rather accurate portrayal of this time of year. It is becoming well-accepted that most of us here in the Northwest are seriously deficient in our Vitamin D. I frequently recommend it in my practice. You can ask your MD to run a simple blood test to determine whether you have adequate Vitamin D levels.

The benefits of Vitamin D are becoming well documented, including in those with anxiety disorders., Benefits include:

  • Decreasing the risks of developing cancer, reducing the risks of multiple sclerosis in pregnant women, improving brain function in later life, increasing the immune system, boosting the nervous system, maintaining healthy body weight, decreasing the incidence of asthma attacks in asthmatics, and the list goes on and on. It is also linked to helping people who are at risk of developing seasonal depression (SAD). 

Stress Less, Live More: Acupuncture's Role in Alleviating Anxiety and Depression

Whether you experience generalized anxiety or depression symptoms, have a medical history of anxiety and depression, or have an anxiety disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder or separation anxiety disorder, the association between anxiety and depression is clear. Fortunately, acupuncture for anxiety can quell the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and other anxiety disorders.

Plus, acupuncture therapy and acupuncture treatment aimed at treating depression and anxiety is a fantastic complementary and alternative medicine that can work alongside your medication and therapeutic treatments (always ask your doctor and therapist). Anxiety disorders are no joke — and holiday stress makes everything more intense if you have an anxiety disorder. That’s why acupuncture therapy aimed at reducing the symptoms of anxiety disorders can help.

You can enhance the effectiveness of acupuncture and its physiological response by using other relaxation techniques, which I am happy to show you during your acupuncture session. These techniques can become a key part of your integrative medicine approach, reducing muscle tension and assisting in existing pharmacological treatment. Some patients report a reduction in anxiety disorder symptoms, such as panic attacks, due to the effectiveness of acupuncture, even if acupuncture needles (thin needles) cause them more anxiety in the short term.

Holiday Survival

So, call this my holiday survival guide, which always includes acupuncture for anxiety and an anxiety disorder. Simple, effective, and all things that I implement in my life. If you follow my suggestions, I think you will have a happy holiday indeed, especially if you’re struggling with an anxiety disorder. 

Give a present of less stress this holiday! Please call (503) 442–1205 or email me if you want to give yourself or someone in your life the gift of health with an acupuncture gift certificate (whether it’s acupuncture for anxiety or another reason). Here’s to enjoying the best of the season!

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