Anxiety and acupuncture

By Michael Côté

Anxiousness means fretting about what may happen. 

It’s fairly normal to experience it every once in while, but anxiety can become a persistent and severe problem that needs addressing.

In this case, anxiety is considered a medical problem and it’s important to seek help.

Typical treatments can include counselling, cognitive behavioral therapy, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication like lorazepam and buspirone.

In western medicine, it’s common to separate the mind and the body; we often think that our emotions are just in our head. In Chinese medicine, emotions are a part of our physiological processes and can be both a cause and an effect of health problems.

Someone who is experiencing a heart attack, for example, will often have anxiety, and someone who is chronically anxious may give themselves a heart attack.

This often leads to a vicious cycle that is difficult to break without help. Emotions are  closely tied to our overall health, and experiencing one emotion in excess can be a symptom of a health problem.

Proper health in Chinese medicine is defined as the harmony of various processes in our body. This includes our digestive cycle, hormone regulation, sleep cycle, circulation, and metabolism.

These processes are linked to our internal organs: the Spleen Stomach, for example, are said to be responsible for managing the transportation and transformation of nutrients.

Each organ system needs to work in harmony with other organ systems and when all of these systems work in harmony, we have homeostasis.

The most important system, in Chinese medicine, is our digestive system. The organ system responsible for managing the transportation of nutrients is called the Spleen system. 

This isn’t the same as the physical spleen itself, rather the Spleen system is way to describe how we view a particular process in the body in Chinese medicine. 

The Spleen system forms the foundation of health as it nourishes the rest of our body like our Liver, Heart, Kidney, and Lung systems.

These organ systems are also associated with specific emotions.

  • The Spleen system is associated with pensiveness, worry, and trust
  • Liver system is associated with irritability, depression and decisiveness
  • Heart system is associated with anxiety, joy, and passion
  • Lung system is associated with grief, and instinct
  • Kidney system is associated with fear, fright and willpower.

It is normal and healthy to experience these emotions at some point in our lives. However, these emotions can become a problem if they become overwhelming and interfere with daily life. 

This may be an indication that an organ system isn’t functioning properly. If someone becomes anxious even when they have nothing to worry about, it’s a pretty good indication that something is wrong. In this case, we would look at which internal system is out of balance and select the appropriate acupuncture points, herbs, and lifestyle changes to help restore harmony.

Does acupuncture actually work for anxiety? Chinese medicine is quite foreign so you may want an explanation of how acupuncture works within the context of allopathic medicine.

Fortunately, there is a great deal of research on acupuncture and how it affects the body. Acupuncture regulates your feel-good hormones like serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine, GABA, neuropeptide Y and ACTH, which can alter the body’s chemistry and alleviate negative emotional states. 

In other words, acupuncture reduces sensitivity to pain and stress which promotes relaxation, thereby reducing anxiety and worry. Acupuncture also stimulates the release of our body’s opioids that influences the autonomic nervous system. 

This stimulates the relaxation response and takes us out of fight-or-flight mode. Also, acupuncture can reverse pathological changes in inflammatory cytokine levels that are associated with anxiety.

Acupuncture has a real and measurable effect on the body’s hormones, neurotransmitters, and autonomous nervous system. These influences can cause positive changes in our behaviour and biochemistry that counter the effects of stress and anxiety.

Because acupuncture is able to do this without medication, many people are turning to it for a drug-free option to reduce anxiety. 

It is important that you seek someone who is capable of making a Chinese medicine diagnosis before getting acupuncture. In British Columbia, they should be a registrant of the CTCMA.

I’d like to share with you a personal experience with anxiety and its impact on my health. I was getting married and doing my final exams for Chinese medicine at the same time, foolishly, and that stress I placed on myself caused me to develop irritable bowel syndrome. 

The pain in my gut was so severe I lost consciousness and knew I needed to seek professional help. I did a course of acupuncture treatments to stop pain and took Chinese herbal medicine to regulate my gut. 

This resolved the symptoms, but I also needed to change the way I dealt with stress. I was told about Dale Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, which was so profoundly helpful that I now recommend it to anyone who comes to me dealing with stress, worry, or anxiety. 

Of course, as with any health problem, lifestyle is important in recovery and for maintaining health. Eating well, getting appropriate exercise, meditating, and speaking with counsellors can all help people dealing with anxiety.

Since moving to Kelowna, I’ve discovered that we have some wonderful resources and support teams available in the community like the CMHA and Okanagan Clinical Counselling.

If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to book a consultation or treatment please get in touch with me at the Okanagan Acupuncture Centre at 1625 Ellis St. in downtown Kelowna.

Michael Côté, R.TCM.P, is a registered practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Growing by quitting work

Intentional Unemployment: Taking a Risk to Discover Your Authentic Self

By Kate Nestibo

Identity Crisis

Our jobs typically demand a great deal of our time and energy. They frequently come up as a conversation starter and may even be the first thing we’re asked about.

We form much of our identity around our chosen career and our professional accomplishments.

We judge others by their profession and make assumptions about them based on their job titles. We may stay in roles and working environments that don’t fulfil us or with leaders who don’t value us, not simply because we’re reliant on the income, but often for the prestige, power, or significance we feel they bring.

Who are we without our jobs? Some of us will never take the time to contemplate that question. The answer our brain conjures up may be more than we wish to consider.

I Quit

When your passion, strength, and values intersect with your career, you’re a force to be reckoned with. If you find yourself in a job that is out of alignment with your unique gifting or value system, the consequences of this misalignment can manifest mentally, emotionally, and even physically.

Recently, I made the decision to resign from a job after mere months with the company. For the first time in my life, I ended my employment without first securing another job. Yes, it was a scary move, and for some it’s an unlikely option with looming bills or a family to care for.

With a small financial cushion and a temporary stint in my parent’s basement, I realized the scarier option would be to continue down a career path I did not feel was the best fit for me.

During this season of transition, I’ve had the opportunity to think about work I’m naturally drawn to, the strengths I have self-identified or others have recognized in me, and my definition of success. Nobody wants to appear as if they hop from job to job, but sometimes you must ‘try before you buy’.

While job interviews are a chance to showcase our skills, experience, and personality, they’re also an opportunity for us to assess potential employers and corporate culture.

It’s a two-way street. Employees should be viewed as the greatest asset a company has, rather than its largest liability.

The Realization

So, back to answering the question: Who are we without our jobs? Well, you’re still uniquely you. Your job doesn’t make you. You make the job.

Nothing is accomplished without you and the distinct set of values, beliefs, passions, capabilities, and insights you bring to a role. And when you leave a role, you don’t lose those elements.

We must continually take time to get to know ourselves and to evaluate our mental, emotional, and physical well being in the workplace and beyond.

Dating While Jobless

If you really want to delve into how you define yourself without paid work, try going on a first date while unemployed. That’s precisely what I did.

When a friend offered to set me up on a blind date the same week I left my job, I figured it was either the best or worst time to meet someone new. Naturally, I had the thought that being unemployed and living at my parents' place may lessen my appeal.

I joked with my girlfriends about using this as my opening line during my impending rendezvous.

Luckily, I quickly circled back to the fact that this just happens to be the stage of life I’m in and having a job doesn’t change the story of me. There’s plenty more to discuss than my job description. If a date doesn’t agree, that’s OK by me. All I’m responsible for is putting forth the most authentic version of myself. Take it or leave it.

Seeking Support

When you’re experiencing a big change in life, a solid support system of family, friends, or mentors are vital.  Most people have a need to process their feelings and experiences with another person, ideally someone who understands their perspective and can offer a listening ear or practical advice.

Your relationships are best tested when you go through challenging periods of life. We may feel like there’s an expiry on the amount of time we are allotted to discuss our issues with those closest to us. Genuine relationships create a safe space where you can wrestle with personal issues for as long as it takes to find resolution.

We rarely judge our loved ones as harshly as we judge ourselves. Remember to extend the same understanding and compassion to yourself that you so freely give to others.

Nobody has life permanently figured out. We all experience ebbs, flows, highs, and lows. If not, you’re probably not truly living your life. 

Take the opportunity to experience change, risk, and personal growth then reap the rewards that trickle into every sector of your life as you seek out the most honest representation of your authentic self.

Kate Nestibo believes in the power of investing in people. With a varied background in marketing and communications, Kate has a growth-mindset that drives her to continually develop as a person and a professional, helping others along the way. Email: [email protected].

Innovative neighbours

Accelerate Okanagan digs into the downtown core to discover what local business owners and operators are most anticipating following the opening of the Innovation Centre.

Randy Zahara is no stranger to technology.

As manager of Kelowna Community Theatre for well over a decade, Zahara has been an advocate of the significant upgrades the theatre has applied to its lighting, audio-visual, and technical services.

Upon entering his new role, Zahara built relationships within the community to increase the number of shows the theatre hosted and partnered to develop. With attendance steadily rising, Zahara recalls that when he “first started, the average age was about 60-plus and now it’s closer to 45. We’ve added a lot more family friendly shows and shows for a younger crowd.”

With annual attendance reaching 120,000 at its peak, he is optimistic about the future of the theatre. As a close neighbour of the Innovation Centre, Zahara says he “can envision working with the Innovation Centre to use social media and crowd-funding to bring new shows. You have a building full of entrepreneurial, gifted people that have a lot of skill and contacts. ... I would love to see us getting that kind of synergy going and I think it could do cool things for the performing arts in our community.”


In the heart of Kelowna’s cultural district sits the Rotary Centre for the Arts (RCA).

With over 230,000 annual visits to the RCA, it’s likely you have attended one of the hundreds of theatrical performances, classes, exhibits, or special events on offer each year.

Nearing his fifth year as general manager at the Rotary, Patrick LeBlanc has been at the forefront of the venue’s evolution. When LeBlanc accepted the position, he recalls, “there was still a concept of Kelowna being more of a retirement town and our general demographic was 55-plus. What we do here is a lot more multicultural and a lot more multigenerational than it was before.”

Having played host to numerous tech conferences, large-scale Accelerate Okanagan events, and the SugarPlum Ball hosted by Mayor Colin Basran, the RCA is already an active supporter of what the Innovation Centre hopes to achieve.

Leblanc shares that he has “talked to some people at the Innovation Centre about merging technology and arts. There was talk of hooking ballerinas up to electrodes and videotaping that and getting movement… I love the fact that we’re at the center of all of this dynamic stuff happening.”

Awaiting the opening of the Innovation Centre and flanked by the museum, art gallery, public library and a wealth of other vendors, it appears the RCA truly has one of the best seats in the house.


When you’re an expert in your craft, clients will flock to you from regions near and far.

Such is the case for Nicole Pidherny and her team of stylists at Pomme Salon. When founder Pidherny first opened the salon in 2015, she said she knew Ellis Street was the perfect place to make her mark.

“I wanted to be centrally located with easy access from all over the Okanagan as we have clients come from Penticton through to Vernon. I also knew Ellis was the ‘next big area.' Pomme is a small business and I wanted to be surrounded by other local businesses that seek community growth.”

Affectionately referred to as the Pomme Squad, Pidherny leads this young and creative group of professionals who have collectively amassed a style portfolio that their social media followers are quick to approve. With the Innovation Centre mere blocks from her storefront, Pidherny enthusiastically predicts that the new landmark is “going to bring our ideal client right to our doorstep. The Centre will help solidify Ellis as the cultural hub of the Okanagan. I'm looking forward to creating long-term relationships with these companies.” With its scissors sharpened and shampoo sinks shining, Pomme is poised to show off its skill on some fresh heads of hair.


It has been operating for less than two years, but BNA Brewing Co. has quickly become a weekly watering hole for students and professionals of all ages.

A rustic yet modern two-level restaurant and bar, the eatery features a full-length bocce court, a restroom that was nominated for a national award, and an onsite craft beer brewery with a tasting room. Owner-operators Kyle and Carolyn Nixon are heavily invested in the downtown core.

Partners in both business and in life, the pair knew that no other location would suffice for their new venture after setting their sights on the former tobacco sorting facility, originally built in 1919. With both of them born and raised in Kelowna, Kyle recalls that “when we were 19 and would go out, downtown wasn’t an option, very rarely would we go there.”

With the city center now flourishing, and as hands-on business owners, downtown is where they now spend the bulk of their time.

Kyle and Carolyn have met many of the future tenants of the Innovation Centre who can often be found sampling a specialty brew at BNA after a long week of work.

Kyle notes of this group, “it used to be that the moment you turned 22, you had to leave Kelowna. It’s cool seeing young people that are able to stay here now and work for companies that are inspiring and fun and innovative. That type of energy inspires us.” 

BNA certainly has a loyal fan base of downtown dwellers but Carolyn believes the brewery has yet to reach its full potential.

"The more things there are downtown that attract people, the more activity, jobs, and excitement that’s created here, it will bring people in from other neighbourhoods.”

Admitting they may be biased, the entrepreneurial duo says they can’t imagine living outside of the Okanagan.

"It’s a privilege to be able to have a career that lets you live in Kelowna,” Carolyn says.

Nodding his head in agreement, Kyle adds “and it’s a privilege to be able to raise a family here. We have always had that mindset. We’re lucky to be business owners and have a business we love, but also to be able to raise our kids here. 10 years ago, that wasn’t always normal.”

Cheers to the new normal, with a BNA craft beer of course…

With neighbouring businesses like these, the support for the Innovation Centre is tangible. The hundreds of shops, restaurants, services, and entertainment facilities scattered throughout the downtown core make this district unique, along with the engaged public sector who continues to sustain it.

As the building prepares to welcome the public into its new space, this sense of community will undoubtedly grow with plenty of opportunities for collaboration, entrepreneurship and innovation.


Site C to keep lights on

By Dave Conway

BC Hydro set a new daily record for power consumption earlier this year as cold winter weather increased the demand for electricity.

Of course, it’s our job at BC Hydro to keep the lights on.

To be successful, we need to be able to meet our customers’ electricity needs today — like on these cold winter nights — while also planning ahead for the future.

Although the demand for electricity fluctuates in the short term, our long-term forecasts show B.C.’s electricity needs will grow by almost 40 per cent over the next 20 years.

This increase is being driven by a projected population increase of more than one million people as well as economic expansion.

And going forward, the B.C. government’s Climate Leadership Plan will require that 100 per cent of the supply of electricity acquired by BC Hydro come from clean or renewable sources, with allowances for reliability.

The long-term trend is clear: new sources of clean electricity will be required to power our province.

As extensive as BC Hydro’s electricity supply is today, it will not be enough to meet B.C.’s long-term electricity needs, even with BC Hydro’s ambitious conservation programs that are targeted to meet at least 66 per cent of future electricity growth by 2020.

That’s why BC Hydro is re-investing in its existing hydroelectric assets and building the Site C project.

Site C is the most cost-effective way to meet our future electricity needs.

An independent Joint Review Panel concluded, “Site C would be the least expensive of the alternatives, and its cost advantages would increase with the passing decades as inflation makes alternatives more costly.”

Now is an ideal time to build Site C.

The project is being financed at historically low interest rates; low commodity prices are helping to keep the costs of materials down; and the slowdown in the natural resource sector means skilled workers are available just as Site C construction ramps up.

Construction of Site C began in the summer of 2015 and will be completed in 2024.

Once in service, the project will be a new source of clean, reliable and affordable electricity, helping us to keep the lights on for generations of British Columbians.

Dave Conway is BC Hydro’s Community Relations Manager for Site C.

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