It’s the little things. A strong espresso. An afternoon nap. A walk with your dog. No matter who you are or what you have going on in your life, 2018 is bound to be full of these daily gifts. But when we’re feeling unwell, either physically or emotionally, or constantly distracted, it’s easy to miss them.
Acupuncture is one of the best tools out there for helping you notice these special moments so that you can get the most out of life. That’s not hyperbole—this stuff works, and in ways you might not expect. If you’ve been meaning to try acupuncture, or if you’re an experienced acupuncture goer who has fallen out of practice, make 2018 the year it becomes a priority.
Need convincing? Here are 18 ways acupuncture can help make 2018 your best year yet:
1. It will make you more grateful.
The driving idea behind acupuncture is that we’re already in possession of everything we need to be well. Acupuncture does not add or subtract anything. Rather, it prompts the body to do what it already knows how to do. It reminds you that you have the power to heal yourself. That’s something to be thankful for.
2. It will lower your stress levels.
Acupuncture is well known for its ability to lower stress. It takes the edge off by removing you from the perpetual state of sympathetic dominance in which so many of us find ourselves. By mellowing out the nervous system, acupuncture helps you feel less affected by and better equipped to manage the stressful aspects of life.
3. It will help you put down your phone.
Acupuncture is all about nuance and subtlety. It sharpens your senses and requires you to get in touch with how you’re feeling, physically and emotionally. So much of our addiction to our phones is about our uneasiness with quiet and solitude—what will we discover if we don’t distract ourselves? Acupuncture inspires us to want to listen in the quiet, to pay attention to the things we’ve gotten used to blocking out.
4. It will strengthen your immune system.
Acupuncture strengthens natural resistance to disease. Forget endorphins. Forget improved blood circulation. Forget placebo. This is how acupuncture works, by bolstering your reserve and equipping you to fight off pathogens. Acupuncture strengthens the immune system so that you can avoid illness rather than dealing with it after it happens.
5. It will help you weather seasonal changes.
In acupuncture, humans are viewed as microcosms of the natural world that surrounds them, so seasons play a significant role in how we feel, physically and emotionally. Do you experience increased feelings of sadness in the fall? Maybe a little irritability come spring? From an acupuncture perspective, this makes total sense. Each season has an associated emotion, and when we transition from one season to the next, it’s easy for these emotions to get out of balance. Ever notice that your anxiety is worse in winter? You’re not alone. Acupuncture can help you feel good year round.
6. It will make you more self-aware.
Acupuncture looks at how root imbalances affect the whole system. This means that when one thing is out of whack, it can affect you in multiple ways. By thinking of yourself as a complex, interconnected system, it becomes easier to understand why you might be feeling unwell. Acupuncture broadens your awareness of the things that can potentially influence your physical and emotional health.
7. It will make you more compassionate.
When you understand yourself better, through self-awareness, you become better at cultivating compassion for others. You’re not the only one who’s a mishmash of interconnected organs and meridians that can at any moment become out of balance, resulting in unexpected reactions. Acupuncture reminds us that we’re all interconnected, through our environment and the energies that we put out into the world.
8. It will make you look younger.
Acupuncture strengthens your five most essential organ systems—Kidney, Spleen, Liver, Lung, and Heart—so that you are systemically healthier. This can not only make you feel younger, by improving your energy levels, but it can actually prevent physical signs of aging.
9. It will improve your skin.
If your battle against aging has mainly to do with your skin, you may have considered cosmetic acupuncture. Cosmetic acupuncture, or facial rejuvenation acupuncture, gets a lot of press. Celebrities swear by it. Some acupuncturists are basing their entire practices on it. Indeed, natural alternatives to Botox and prescription acne medications are in high demand, and acupuncture is emerging as a leading solution.
10. It will decrease your pain.
When people think about acupuncture and what it can help with, pain is usually the first thing that comes to mind. But acupuncture’s ability to reduce pain goes beyond the physical benefits such as improved blood flow and the release of pain-relieving endorphins and serotonin. There is a significant emotional component to pain as well, especially pain that is chronic. Treating pain effectively—that is, treating it in a way that addresses the root causes—requires approaching it holistically. Acupuncture excels at this.
11. It will give you a flatter stomach.
Acupuncture offers a whole new take on why many people suffer from bloating, as well as reflux, constipation, and other digestive disorders. The paired Spleen and Stomach are the main organs associated with digestion. This refers to the digestion of food as well as the digestion of thought. From an acupuncture perspective, over thinking, like over eating, can lead to bloating and digestive discomfort. Acupuncture offers a new perspective on bloating and digestive disorders.
12. It will help you sleep better.
Insomnia is stubborn. Tons of people have it—it’s one of the most common complaints seen by acupuncturists—but for many different reasons. Because acupuncture looks at each patient as an individual, regular treatments can be highly effective for people who haven’t found relief in sleep medications or other one-size-fits-all solutions. For some acupuncture-inspired self-care advice on how to get rid of insomnia, go here.
13. It will boost your energy.
Although it’s common to find yourself in “acu land”—a somewhat dazed, blissfully relaxed state—during and immediately following acupuncture treatment, the after effect is usually increased energy. Many people report having more energy in the hours, days and even weeks after an acupuncture treatment. You may notice that you’re avoiding that post-lunch coma, feeling more motivated to hit the gym, or just sensing a little extra spring in your step.
14. It will help you recover faster.
If you’re someone who works out, either hard core—like the Iron Cowboy, who used acupuncture to fuel 50 Ironman triathlons in 50 days in 50 states—or just normally like most people, acupuncture is a great recovery tool. It helps your body bounce back from intensive exercise and heal more quickly.
15. It will make you more patient.
Our go-go-go society and the technology we’ve come to rely on has acclimated us to quick fixes. It perpetuates the “I want it now” mentality that dominates most of our worlds. This creates chronic impatience. Acupuncture, because it works but rarely overnight, can help us combat this. Acupuncture is an ongoing process that requires an investment of time and a willingness to let go of our desire for instant gratification. It will make you a more patient person.
16. It will improve your sex life.
The multifaceted nature of sexuality means that many systems throughout the body play a role, and seemingly unrelated symptoms or habits can influence whether someone has a fulfilling sex life. Acupuncturists, because they are trained to view their patients holistically, are experts at making these connections and restoring balance so that you’re able to fully experience and enjoy sex.
17. It will make you more open minded.
Acupuncture, although becoming more widely used, is still not the norm. Most doctors, as well as some family, friends and colleagues, regard mainstream medicine as the only acceptable form of healthcare. Acupuncture requires you to think about health in entirely new ways because it turns mainstream medical tenets on their head. It will remind you that there are multiple ways of seeing the world—and that “popular” doesn’t always equal “right.”
18. It will teach you how to take care of yourself and your family.
Acupuncture is the basis for acupressure, which is a free and easy self-care tool for keeping yourself and your loved ones healthy. Nothing beats routine acupuncture treatments, but for preventive care and in between acupuncture sessions, acupressure can work wonders.
This article originally appeared on Acutake & was written by Sara Calabro.