Acupuncture can help you to make the most of your university adventure
As young men and women up and down the UK deal with the stress and anxiety that comes from preparing for a new life away from home at university, acupuncture could be the thing that allows them to relax and really look forward to the new adventure that awaits.
Homesickness is something most of us can relate to. We probably all remember the first time we were properly separated from family for the first time and the feelings of loss that came with that experience.
Humans are, above all things, social animals and, when it comes to our individual hierarchy of needs, the sense of security we get from being surrounded by people we know and trust is in large part what anchors us emotionally and gives us the confidence to thrive and grow.
It’s no surprise that one of the more vivid early memories that tend to stay with us is the school trip, fighting back a sudden wash of grief as your parents waved the coach off at the school gate.
And while they headed into a week of missing us but also enjoying the freedom that came with not having day-to-day responsibility for us, we were probably slumped into a seat fighting back tears as we contemplated what seemed like forever away from everything that was familiar.
The truth is that separation anxiety and stress isn’t a switch that gets turned off when we reach a certain age. It’s not a biological function that resolves with maturity. In fact, we continue to suffer the anxiety of separation as we grow older – it’s just that most of us become better able to deal with it.
This summer thousands of young people will be experiencing the first twinges of homesickness anxiety as they count down the days and weeks to the time when they will leave home for university or college.
For many, the stress of leaving home is tangible but counterbalanced, if perhaps not quite outweighed by the excitement of starting a new chapter in their journey to adulthood and independence. For the rest, it can be a torrid and miserable time that dwarfs everything else and makes happiness all but impossible.
I have a client whose son was so anxious about the prospect of leaving home that he couldn’t bring himself to attend any university open days or begin the application process – even though a university education was something he actively wanted to pursue. The stress he felt was simply paralysing.
Contrary to popular belief, homesickness isn’t always about being sad to leave family and friends – although that’s certainly a part of it in most cases; it’s usually about the transition from something completely familiar to something totally unfamiliar.
Like entering a swimming pool for the first time, a change in environment can be unsettling to the point of being unpleasant – but once you’re in and your body acclimatises, it’s usually not as bad as you thought at first.
The stress of leaving home is much like any other anxiety – it’s the subconscious trying to offer you protection by putting you into flight mode. In the end, we’re designed to avoid danger and insecurity – and leaving the known for the unknown is a fairly good definition of an insecure, if not dangerous, situation. Our body responds accordingly.
Anxiety – whatever its cause – puts us into a state of high alert: our heart rate increases, we often wake at night gripped by panic, we get the sensation of our stomach dropping when we think of the situation we’re about to put ourselves in and we prevaricate over the things that need to be done for us to be able to enter that situation.
Stress disrupts our natural energy and prevents us from finding the balance that’s at the root of good emotional health. Acupuncture is a fabulous treatment for all forms of stress and anxiety, including the separation anxiety that manifests as homesickness.
By using this ancient Chinese therapy to restore balance in the body’s natural energy flow – or Qi – along the pathways between acupuncture points, it’s possible to ‘reset’ the mental and physical symptoms that conspire to make moving away so daunting.
By addressing the disruption in our qi, we become calmer and better able to rationalise the situation we’re in, making us more open to accepting and appreciating the opportunities and benefits we’re about to enjoy – and ultimately being able to look forward to what awaits.
If your son or daughter is struggling with an impending move to college and you’d like to find out more about how acupuncture can help, why not get in touch and we can explain how our services can help you all to make the most of what lies ahead.