Acupressure, like acupuncture, has been practiced for thousands of years and is becoming more integrated with Western Medicine. Acupressure doesn’t require needles and uses the power of touch to stimulate energy (qi) and assist the body’s innate healing. Studies show that physical touch triggers the release of chemicals oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. In their own unique way, each of these reduces anxiety, counters stress, and makes you feel good.
Since many of us are spending more time at home, acupressure is a safe, relaxing activity for you and your family to enjoy. Acupressure can be done any time of day, so include it as part of your morning routine, mid-day, or before retiring to bed. To enhance the experience light candles, use essential oils, or play relaxing music. Below are a few of my favorite acupressure points to calm the mind and reduce anxiety.
To start, wash your hands thoroughly and find a quiet place to sit comfortably. Take a few moments to center yourself with deep steady breathing. Then follow the sequence of points listed below, starting at the top and working your way down. Use the locations noted as a guide when finding the points. You should target tender spots, tension, or even a slight depression at or near the location described. Once you find the point, apply firm pressure and hold for about 2-3 minutes at each point then repeat another round and switch sides. Do this 2x a day especially when feeling physical tension or emotional stress. Note: a slight ache while applying pressure is to be expected. Also you may ‘press and release’ each point (instead of holding), to create a pumping sensation.
Location on body: About ¼” above the space centered between the eyebrows.
Benefits: Yin Tang is a popular point used in meditation and also the location of the third eye, 6th chakra in Ayurvedic medicine. It is an excellent choice to promote harmony and peace from within. The pineal gland is located deep behind this point. Pressing yin tang may help the function of this gland to regulate circadian rhythms (sleep/wake cycles) and balance hormones such as cortisol.
Pericardium 6 (Nei Guan)
Location on body: This point is between two tendons on the inner wrist, about 1-1.5” up from the wrist crease. (The tendons are more visible with the hand gently clenched as a fist.)
Benefits: This point is indicated for anxiety and associated conditions such as palpitations, insomnia, emotional upset, pain, and nausea. It helps regulate the heart rate, calm the mind, and settle the stomach. The pericardium is a sac which surrounds and protects the heart. This point is on the pericardium meridian and energetically helps maintain emotional boundaries and protect the heart.
Location on body: In the center of the chest, level with the lower border of the 4th rib.
Benefits: This point is referred to in Chinese Medicine as the ‘sea of qi’. It opens the lungs, relaxes the diaphragm, and expands the chest to regulate breathing and allow more oxygen to circulate the body. It is also located at the heart or 4th chakra in Ayurvedic medicine. Energetically this point opens your heart to receive love and compassion.
Location on body: On the top of the foot, about 1-1.5” up from the webbing between the 1st and 2nd toes. There is usually a soft tender depression.
Benefits: Liver 3 is a great point to resolve stagnation, clear heat, and move energy. It is particularly useful to balance your temperament when feeling frazzled. This point promotes smooth flowing energy and also relieves premenstrual symptoms.
Location on body: On the bottom of your foot, below the ball of your foot and between the first and second toes there is a tender depression. Press here to find the point.
Benefits: Since this point is located on the bottom of the foot it is very grounding. It creates a sense of security, calms the mind, and promotes restful sleep.
To compliment this acupressure series and promote relaxation, I recommend the following.
- Apply an essential oil such as lavender, rose, or chamomile at each acupressure point location. These scents soothe and relax the mind.
- Soak for 15-20min in a warm Epsom salt bath 2-3 times a week to relax muscles and relieve tension.
- Take 300mg of magnesium citrate or an herbal formula before bed. Check out the ‘Moody Blues’ elixir at gryphandivyrose.com or connect with Stephanie @StephaniePetrowLAc for more information.