While we often think of stress as it relates to mental pain, there is no doubt it can cause real, physical pain in the form of headaches, backaches, earaches, eye pressure, and leg and foot discomfort, among other ailments.
This is where acupressure comes in.
Acupressure is the ancient practice of applying pressure to key body points.
The theory, which dates back thousands of years, maintains that stretching from your fingertips to your brain is a system of pathways attached to organs.
These channels contain a vital life force.
When the energy is blocked, we experience pain.
Applying pressure to certain parts of the body unblocks passageways and helps the body activate its own self-healing mechanisms, returning it to a natural, balanced state.
In Chinese Traditional Medicine, these 12 major pathways are referred to as meridians and the energy in the body as qi (pronounced “chi”).
The energy is divided into two categories, yin and yang, which represent both negative and positive energy forces within the body.
When these forces are out of balance, sickness results.
The concept of maintaining balance is similar to the Hindu practice of yoga in which the body must be balanced between the Linga, the male side, and the Yoni, or the female side of the body, to experience health.
While all this energy talk may sound crazy, several recent studies have proven that the microstructure of a primo-vascular system does exist and lines up with what’s been taught by eastern civilizations for millennia.
Dr. Vitaly Vodyanoy of Alabama’s Auburn University injected blue ink into a rat to document the system of vessels that make up this system.
When activated by something such as acupuncture or acupressure, it is thought that stem cells are produced, flow to particular organs, and replace injured cells.
This theory fits with Andrew Taylor Still’s belief, the founder of osteopathic medicine, that “the body possesses self-regulatory mechanisms, having the inherent capacity to defend, repair and remodel itself,” a press release by the university stated.
So what does this have to do with stress?
Regardless of if you believe in the concept of energy coursing through your body, applying pressure to acupoints has almost universally been proven to lower stress and promote longevity.
Applying firm yet gentle pressure to them regularly is also associated with increased immunity against disease, relieving joint pain and digestive issues, and even easing menstrual pain.
This is similar to the results of acupuncture, which uses the same meridians to alleviate pain.
Those who have experienced someone triggering pressure points for the first time liken it to a tingling sensation throughout the body accompanied by an incredible feeling of relaxation.
With this information in mind, here are nine easy-to-find pressure points that are guaranteed to reduce your anxiety in seconds and leave you more able to cope with the stresses of everyday life—from head to toe!
One of the easiest pressure points to find is the ying tang, or the third eye point, which is at the midpoint between your two eyebrows.
Locate this pressure point by placing your finger directly in the middle of your eyebrows and moving your finger in a circular motion.
Try to relax while massaging it and breathe deeply.
Jamie Starkey, a licensed acupresserist from the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, recommends rubbing this point in a circular motion for three minutes several times a week.
This point is called the “Shen Men” or “Heavenly Gate.”
It is slightly harder to find, but considered one of the most effective and a gateway to overall health.
It is located on the upper part of your ear in between the top of the ear and the earlobe.
Some people recommend using a pen or cue tip instead of your finger to stimulate it.
This point in the neck called the “Feng Chi” or “Wind Pool,” often contains a lot of tension.
This acupoint can be adjusted by clasping your hands and putting them behind your head.
Feel with your fingers where the neck muscles attach to the skull and push your thumbs in while applying gentle, but firm pressure.
The “Jian Jing,” or “Gall Bladder 21,” can be found by pinching the shoulder with two fingers halfway between the arm and the neck.
While you can do this exercise yourself, you may want to have someone assist you.
You should be aware that it may be tender as stress accumulates there, so you will want to start by gently massaging this point and then applying downward pressure with your finger or thumb as the tension is released.
While this one might seem a little strange, this area, also known as the “Central treasury,” is located on a meridian acupoint.
It can be found at the top crease on the outside of your armpit.
You can also trace your finger from where the collarbone and shoulder meet, and then bring it downward toward the armpit until your finger falls to the top of the crease.
Use your index finger to apply gentle, but firm, circular pressure and hold for at least a minute.
Also called the “Shan Zhong,” or “Sea of Tranquility,” this pressure point is located in the middle of your sternum between your nipples.
Use your three fingers to apply gentle yet firm pressure to the area and hold for between one to three minutes while breathing in and out deeply.
The “Inner Gate,” or “Nei Guan,” can be found by placing three fingers underneath your wrist on your inner forearm and then placing a finger between the two tendons.
Apply firm pressure for between several seconds to a full minute.
The “He Gu,” or “Joining Valley” is in an area of the hand where the index finger and thumb form a “v.” The point is in the muscle belly between the two fingers.
Another spot on the hand is the “Zhong Zhu,” which is slightly below the pink and ring finger between the two tendons.
Hold and press or rub in a circular motion for best results.
The “Tai Chung,” or “Great Rushing Point,” on the end of the foot, can be located by placing your finger on the space between and underneath the big toe and the second toe.
Slide your finger down until it touches the bone, but does not yet reach the ball of the foot.
It should be about two finger widths above the skin where the big toe and next toe join.
When doing acupressure, always remember to focus on your breathing.
Taking slow, deep breaths in and out automatically reduces your stress levels and allows you to think more clearly.
It also helps to stimulate the flow of oxygen to your brain, which gives you more energy—a win-win situation!
Be sure to stretch, too, while using these acupoints as it helps to relieve even more tension.
As with anything, there are a couple cautions.
If you are pregnant, putting pressure on some of these points can actually induce labor!
So, unless your goal is to pop your baby out early, you may want to stay away from doing any self-acupressure until he or she is born.
You should also be careful if you have cancer or another chronic condition.
It is important to ask your doctor if any of these circumstances apply to you.
For an added twist, try implementing these techniques with a partner.
Not only will he or she be helping you to relieve stress, you will be helping your partner to relieve stress, too.
And what else is better for your psyche than that?
If you have any questions, I’m always happy to help!
Looking for some jewelry to help with stress relief?
Check out this article!