Two wellness experts weigh in on how to get the stress-reducing benefits of acupuncture while at home

Let's be honest with each other -- we are living through extremely stressful times.

The effects of the coronavirus on both the physical and mental health of our communities can feel overwhelming and exhausting, especially with many of the resources and spaces we use to combat these maladies being temporarily closed.

For many, the practice of acupuncture has been a safe and reliable space for releasing those physical or mental blocks and ailments, as Kim Ross, Founder & CEO of ORA explained:

"Acupuncture helps to balance the system and increase blood flow and circulation ... your body is a see-saw between internal and external factors and acupuncture helps balance the body both out, so you are less susceptible to inflammation and other stressors on your body."

When Ross opened ORA in New York City on March 5, her mission was to create a "new type of acupuncture experience" in a luxe spa-like setting:

"ORA is where modern design meets the practices of traditional Chinese medicine, bringing it to life in a space where anyone can disconnect with the outside world and reconnect with themselves over tea, tonics and acupuncture."

When the shelter in place order hit amid the coronavirus pandemic mid-March, ORA was forced to shutter its doors that had just newly opened -- but for Ross, this was just another opportunity to help clients on their wellness journey from afar:

"ORA’s mission has always been to educate people on the benefits of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine and to create a space to help people feel better, and while we cannot do that at our physical space, we are still trying to do so via free video sessions and live chat ... while you may be limited in some ways environmentally, we want you to have some easy ideas of how you can take care of yourself at home to stay healthy—especially in times of crisis, it’s important to stay calm and grounded."

Phoebe Cheong

These virtual sessions will set patients up with acupuncturists to "address ways you can de-stress at home" which include different breathing & calming techniques, how to find and activate the correct acupressure points on your body as well as guide users through bettering their overall wellness journeys.

Gabriel Sher, Director of Acupuncture at ORA, explained what exactly acupressure points are and how we can use them at home to emulate the benefits of an acupuncture session:

"Traditional Chinese medicine is based on 12 meridians that run throughout the body. When there are blockages in a meridian, the movement qi/energy or blood does not flow smoothly through the body which causes sickness, pain and disease ... [acupuncture] needles are placed in different points on the body to open the specific meridian that correlates which each individual's specific problem(s).

Ear and body acupuncture points help to relax the system and calm spirit. The acupuncture points help to rebalance the system, break up stagnation throughout the body and sedate the emotions ... acupressure and meditation/breathing are two practices I am trying to get all my patients actively doing. The acupressure points are focused on anxiety, stress and immunity."

Sher explained that the practice "can boost your immune system, give you more energy and release endorphins throughout your body. Under stress, our body activates the sympathetic nervous system while acupuncture releases the parasympathetic system which relaxes the system. Acupuncture helps to regulate hormones serotonin and noradrenaline and dopamine."

For someone like Ross, who suffers from Type-1 Diabetes and other health-related issues, patients can find that the practice aids in calming the digestive system and anxiety, while increasing overall energy and immunity.

Phoebe Cheong

Sher also offered up other top tips for finding a sense of peace and relaxation in anything but tranquil times:

"Taking 15 minutes in the morning and 15 min at night to sit in a quiet place and breathe and be present with how you’re feeling emotionally and physically will help with your overall well being ... Reorganize your closets, get rid of stuff you don't need ... make your home warm and comfortable -- buy soft comfortable sheets, towels and bedding, move things around ... use essential oils and candles ... try apps that help with meditation and calm."

Both Sher and Ross also stress the importance of eating and drinking certain superfoods and supplements in order to maximize wellness and stay centered.

Sher recommends "incorporating foods that help to calm the system, increase serotonin level and dopamine levels such as turkey, spinach blueberries bananas walnuts, almonds and eggs" while Ross swears by "eating a lot of ginger and turmeric."

Phoebe Cheong

A major component of the ORA space is its tea + tonic bar, which is another element of wellness Ross is working to offer to clients virtually:

"We have worked with Colleen Cackowski, the herbalist who created ORA’s tea + tonic bar, Earthbar, Erewhon Natural Foods and more, to provide recipes that are easy to recreate for our community. We have been posting them on our Instagram, @oraspace."

And though all these methods and practices will help, it’s important to remember that some days might just be harder than others — and that’s more than ok, Ross shares:

“I have been trying to accept the fact that it is normal and OK to have anxiety some days and to just take deep breaths and try not to focus on it and let it pass.”