Holidays can bring both good and bad stress. Decisions about whether to travel to see family, dodging relatives inappropriate questions about trying to conceive and even the blessing of a positive pregnancy test can all be sources of stress.

The good news is that your body has a built in system to modulate stress. When we experience stress our bodies increase the production of cortisol so we can do what we need to do for survival. After the stressful time if we get plenty of relaxation and rest time in our cortisol levels go back to normal. However, if our cortisol levels stay too high for too long then our production of DHEA (a hormone that is a precursor for both testosterone and estrogens) also begins to decrease. Eventually cortisol can also decrease to below normal levels leaving us feeling tired and sluggish. Again the good news is that this is a regulation issue that can be restored to normal with lifestyle changes and acupuncture.

 Acupuncture is a way to push the reset button on your body’s circuit system. Acupuncture allows your body to be restored to a calm resting place more quickly. Almost instantaneously it can release your body’s natural endorphins which can relieve pain and make you feel more calm. It has been shown to regulate your body’s cortisol rhythm with multiple treatments which shows it has a lasting effect on your body’s ability to handle stress and regulate stress hormones.

For fertility patients in particular, acupuncture has been shown in many medical studies to lower the perceived stress and anxiety levels of patients going through IVF treatment. Acupuncture builds onto the inner resilience that you already have to make stressful events less stressful.

However, lifestyle changes are still important. We can’t control every variable in life but look around and see where you CAN make changes. You may want to sleep instead of taking that overnight flight to see family (book day travel instead), put off that last holiday shopping errand to another day if you are feeling tired after a long day, and give family boundaries on casual table topics.

 Alicia Masiulis, MS, LAc, FABORM practices acupuncture and functional medicine in Palo Alto California and can be found at


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