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From anxiety to sleep problems, look to acupuncture for a spring boost

Photograph by Regan Cameron for Harper's Bazaar

Having felt run-down for a few weeks, with an ever-increasing list of things that felt off kilter, I decided to try acupuncture. I'd had a few sessions in the past and its approach to re-setting the system as a whole was very appealing. With 15 years experience, Kate Winstanley is a renowned acupuncturist and has a wealth of experience treating infertility, women's health problems, headaches, insomnia, digestive disorders, chronic fatigue and stress and anxiety, among other conditions.

A first session involves an initial consultation with Winstanley during which a thorough analysis of your symptoms is carried out, including a discussion of aspects of your life that you might not even have considered as symptoms. "This gives me a good picture of your overall health," she tells me, "the final pieces of the puzzle are obtained by feeling your pulse on your wrist, examining the tongue and feeling the temperature of the abdomen." You are quickly reminded what a complex machine your body is; one glitch can send everything off-balance.

My first session involved needles in points on my legs, feet, hands, face and ears. While this was painless, even for a needle-phobe, I felt a subsequent deep ache that sometimes lasted for a while. Winstanley explained, "The needle sensation varies from person to person and from point to point. Generally the points on the hands and feet are felt as a stronger ache. This is because they are the most powerful, located at the beginning and ends of the acupuncture channels. This achy feeling is called 'deqi' and is an important part of the treatment, indicating that the point has been activated." Four needles in my right ear, used to calm the central nervous system and combat anxiety, had such a great effect that I would leave in a totally calm frame of mind and float back to work.

As well as practicing acupuncture, Winstanley incorporates advice on lifestyle and wellbeing, and your sessions are peppered with tips on both nutrition and mindfulness: "I'm fiercely anti-sugar," she tells me, "as this zaps our energy and plays havoc with our hormones. Instead, a quick energy-boosting tip is to add chia seeds to your breakfast." We would spend the first 10 minutes of each session discussing how I felt that week, while Winstanley made recommendations such as regular doses of homemade bone broth, which is full of important nutrients, and listening to online meditations as a way to relieve stress (she recommends Kelly Howell's).

After a few weeks of seeing Winstanley, as well as a decrease in physical symptoms, I really started to notice a calmer mindset and see the impact of her holistic technique: "That way I can treat a person on a really deep level, and the symptoms disappear as the body gets back into health." Her favourite point? "A point called 'Yintang' on the forehead between the eyes which has a wonderful, immediate calming effect. I use it regularly on patients who are running on adrenaline to calm the central nervous system."

An initial consultation with Kate Winstanley is £125 for one hour and follow-up appointments are £95. For more information visit

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