Acupressure for Reducing Stress and Anxiety
Acupressure is a safe and gentle home practice. It can be a great self care tool to use between acupuncture appointments to nourish your wellbeing. Acupressure stimulates communication with the nervous system to release feel-good chemicals (endorphins) and activate the body's self healing systems. It is a great supportive treatment for anything that ails you, but be sure to listen to your body and seek wise counsel from your doctor and acupuncturist when ailments are acute or persisting.
In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), thoughts and emotions are considered a major contributor to the internal causes of disease. I'm sure that does not surprise you because you've probably felt a headache come on or your heart race during and after an angry upset, or you may have felt palpitations when you are nervous about something at school or work, or maybe you noticed nausea or loose stools with a bout of worry.
Thoughts and emotions are normal, internal, physiological responses to stimulus from our environment. Stimulus happens, we respond, then we go back to normal. However in some situations, the emotions and thoughts get stuck on a loop, and usually not the loop of remembering all the wonderful experiences we have had. When you find yourself stuck in a loop of negative thinking or you feel anxious or overwhelmed, try pressing one of these acupressure points for a minute or two. Acupressure along with focused breathing helps rebalance and smooth the movement of qi and blood in the body, which then helps to bring balance back to the mind, body, and spirit.
Acupressure for Reducing Stress and Anxiety Basic Instructions:
- You may want to rate your level of stress or anxiety, 0-10/10. Is it 4/10? 8/10? Where are you noticing it in your body?
- If you are sitting in a chair, sit up straight, center your heart over your pelvis and your head over your heart.
- You can keep your eyes open or closed while you press each point.
- Slow your breathing. Inhale in your nose and out your mouth. You might want to breathe in deep and let out an audible sighs, repeat a couple times at the beginning of this practice. This is reminding the body to relax and let go of stress.
- As you continue to breathe, notice your lower ribs expanding with your inhale.
- You can press one or all of the points listed below in any order. Hold each point for 3 or more slow deep breath cycles.
- Use firm but gentle pressure at each of these points, you can use 1 finger or your whole palm. Gently press, circle or massage each point.
- As you practice acupressure, every so often, pause and check in with yourself and return to #1- how are you feeling 0-10/10? Where are you still noticing your stress or anxiety? What is feeling better?
- Continue until the stress or anxiety is reduced or eliminated and you feel calm.
These are great stress and anxiety reducing points from the top of your head to the bottom of your foot. I like to start at the top, but you can start with any of these points. Depending on your time, you might want to just pick 1 or 2 or maybe you have time to go through them all head to toes.
- Du 20-- Located at the top of the head. Sit up straight, notice your heart centered over your pelvis and your head over your heart.
- Yin Tang-- Located in the middle between your eyebrows.
- Ren 17-- Located on the sternum (chest bone), four-finger width up from the bottom of the sternum.
- GB-21-- Located at the top of the shoulder. Press or rub this point while you breathe deep. You can also hold this point and then glide the shoulder toward your ear to encourage your shoulders to relax.
- H 7-- Located on the crease of your wrists on the little finger side of your inner forearm.
- LI 4-- Located in the flesh between the thumb and index finger (do not use this point if you are pregnant)
- Ht 8 and P8-- Located in the center of the palm. You can use your opposite thumb to circle your palm toward thumb and around to gently massage these points. https://youtu.be/1BW-kah6Ssg
- Liv 3-- Located between the big toe and the second toe, in the hollow space where the metatarsals (foot bones) come together.
- Ki 1-- Located on the bottom of the foot, in the center where the arch connects with the ball of the foot.
Try it and let me know which are your favorite points.
Acupuncture is an integrated mind-body system of healing utilizing the stimulation of acupoints to rebalance the energy pathways. Heal the body and the mood improves, heal the mood and physical complaints start to go away.
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Inspired Balance, LLC Sarah Aiken-Felling, MAOM, LAc 715-831-8998 www.inspiredbalance.com