The ancient healing modality of acupressure was developed in Asia over 5,000 years ago and has been filtered and refined ever since. It is a simple yet effective therapy that is often used as a means of self-treatment to reduce pain and tension, decrease stress, fire up the immune system and boost circulation, contributing to the treatment’s broad scope of use from healing emotional pain to improving sexual performance.
This article will provide numerous acupressure points that you can self-administer as and when is necessary, to reduce and eliminate a state of mind that can plague any one of us; stress and anxiety.
Acupressure uses the same pressure point locations as acupuncture, however, it uses different strengths of finger pressure to stimulate them, as opposed to the needles used in acupuncture. The mechanism of action is based on theory that, by applying pressure to these points, we can manipulate Qi (energy) that flows through energy pathways inside of our bodies known to Traditional Chinese Medicine as meridians. The Traditional Chinese Medicine Foundation describes meridians in the following manner:
“Picture a road map: a profusion of points woven into a web by lines of travel. Now imagine this system 3-D in your body: a vast network of invisible energy pathways connecting to each other and to every atom, cell, tendon, bone, organ, each centimeter of skin — everything in your body! They link the upper portion with the lower and the surface with the interior, so that nothing is truly separate.
“Now add other dimensions to this 3-D interconnected body “map”: your mind, your emotions, and spirit — everything conscious and unconscious within you. These amazing pathways are the meridians, and they form your body and all invisible aspects of your being into an intercommunicating whole.”
Acupressure – The How and Why
Modern living offers many incredible benefits such as comfortable and leisurely standards of living, and easy access to healthy food and clean water. However these positives comes with a negative price in the forms of financial stress, tight work deadlines, rocky and wavering relationships, just to list a few, which all ultimately contribute to levels of stress and anxiety that are bodies simply did not evolve to counter and cope with. Exposing our bodies to frequent stress and anxiety can manifest in all sorts of problematic and health-impacting symptoms such as insomnia, head aches, diminished sexual desire and low energy, all of which prevent us from effectively pursuing our passions and dreams.
As mentioned, acupressure can be used to alleviate a host of varying ailments. Modern western science has not quite drawn up an empirical conclusion as to how or why exactly meridian therapy works, but it does nonetheless recognize its effectiveness. The scientific literature is abundant with evidence of its successful application, one such catalog of studies can be found at pubmed.com which houses studies on the effects of acupressure on ailments from nausea to pain and stiffness to anxiety.
Below is a list of five of the most potent acupressure points which each one of us can utilize on a daily basis to stop stress and anxiety dead in its tracks when it starts to arise in our bodies and minds.
A single acupressure point can work in two different ways. When a point is stimulated in the same area that pain and tension is occurring, this is referred to as a local point. Other points may be stimulated on a specific part of the body with the intent of relieving a symptom or ailment elsewhere in the body; this is called a trigger point and works through the electrical pathways of the meridian system at a distance.
Before self-administering acupressure, it is advisable to do some deep breathing and light stretching, in order to maximize relaxation and muster a peaceful mental state beforehand.
To apply pressure and stimulate the pressure points, a firm pressure is the most fundamental and effective technique. Using either the thumbs, fingers, knuckles, palms or the side of the hands, apply firm and stationary pressure to the chosen point. You should slowly increase the amount of pressure applied to the point over a period of 3 minutes to experience optimal results from the treatment. Each point will feel slightly different when pressure is applied and you should be firm enough that it begins to hurt somewhat. If the point is particularly sensitive, you should gradually decrease the pressure until a balance between pain and pleasure is struck.
Caution: If you have a serious or life-threatening illness, please consult with your physician before practicing acupressure.
Using Acupressure to Relieve Stress and Anxiety
Point 1 (Nei Guan)
Starting from the wrist, measure the length of three fingers down the forearm. Where the third finger meets the middle of the arms width is where the point is located. Apply firm pressure using the thumb and gently rotated the thumb in a circular motion to massage the point for 2-3 minutes. Doing this to both arms will help to melt anxiety and will also help reduce any nausea present.
Point 2 (Union Valley)
This point is located between the webbing of the index finger and thumb. Apply the index finger and thumb from the opposing hands to either side of the webbing to form a pinch. Apply firm pressure for three minutes whilst taking deep enough breathes to fully inflate the abdomen. Applying pressure to this point will help to relive stress and tension in the body.
Point 3 (Shoulder Well)
This stimulation point is located half way between the point of the shoulder and the base of the neck. Applying pressure with your index finger to this point aids in relieving stress and decreasing tension in the body. According to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, this point also helps to free up the flow of Qi throughout the meridian system.
Point 4 (Central Treasury)
This meridian point is located on the tender tissue two finger widths above where the underneath of the arm meets the chest. Using the tip of the index finger and applying moderate pressure to this point, to either one or both sides simultaneously, will aid with deep breathing and increased blood circulation, and help with the balancing of unstable emotions.
Point 5 (Heavenly Pillar)
This point lies one fingers width below the base of the skull, upon the rope-like muscles roughly one half-inch either side of the spine. Web the fingers across the back of the skull and use both thumbs to apply firm pressure to both points. Close the eyes and take long and deep breathes whilst stimulating the point for around 3 minutes to relieve stress. These points also assist in insomnia, a stiff neck, over exhaustion and swollen eyes.
About the Author:
Luke Sumpter is a 21 year old writer/journalist from the United Kingdom. His main focus is health and well-being, having written for websites such as Reset.me, Elephant Journal and The Mind Unleashed in this subject area. He is currently preparing to start his degree is Acupuncture in London and is also a holistic health mentor and founder of The Art of Wellness where he publishes and shares information involving alternative and holistic healing therapies.
You can follow Luke at Twitter.com/Luke_A_Sumpter.