While a good cup of flower tea is great for stress, there are a lot of other wellness rituals you might consider adding to your routine. If you’re feeling a little extra stress these days, you might enjoy acupressure. Acupressure has been a staple of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as a treatment method for a wide range of conditions. Typically, acupressure is used to treat stress, boost immunity, and relieve pain, but today we’re going to dive into our five favorite self-acupressure points for less stress.
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What is acupressure?
According to the Integrative Medicine department at UCLA, “acupressure is essentially a method of sending a signal to the body (by needle or other means) to “turn on” its own self-healing or regulatory mechanisms" (1). In TCM, acupressure helps improve the circulation of your qi, or vital energy source. It does this by applying pressure to certain points along the meridians of your body, which are channels that your qi flow through.
Acupressure and acupuncture are both ways to stimulate your qi, but they are slightly different. Acupuncture involves inserting needles into specific meridian points by a licensed acupuncturist. Acupressure instead uses firm pressure to massage those points. While these wellness practices both work well, acupuncture will better activate your body’s innate healing ability than acupressure will. This is because the needles used in acupuncture are able to pin-point the exact meridian point.
What are the benefits of acupressure?
Like we shared earlier, people use acupressure for a variety of reasons, but one of the main benefits is stress relief. Even though we’re going to focus mostly on stress today, here are a few other problems that acupressure can be used to help: (2)
- Cancer-related fatigue and other forms of fatigue
- Menstrual cramps
- Motion sickness
- Muscle tension and pain
- Nausea or vomiting after surgery or chemotherapy
- Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy and morning sickness
Can you do acupressure on yourself?
Unlike acupuncture, which always requires a trained professional, acupressure can be performed on yourself once you understand the basics. When performing self-acupressure you need to use firm—but not uncomfortable—pressure while massaging and stimulating each point. You can massage in a circular motion or simply hold down.
While you’re performing self-acupressure, remember to relax, breathe deeply, and listen to any cues from your body. Generally, you only need to perform self-acupressure for a few seconds, but you can also do your acupressure massage as many times as you need!
5 Acupressure points for less stress
1. Conceptual Vessel 17 (Ren 17) or “Chest Center” (Shan Zhong)
As you might’ve guessed, “chest center” is right at the center of your chest. But you can find the exact point by locating the midway point between your nipples.
If you’re stressed due to emotional distress, this is the acupressure point for you. By stimulating this point, you’ll help relax and open up your chest, which is essential to the movement of qi. This is also great for anyone who feels shortness of breath or tightness in their chest when stressed or anxious.
2. Gall Bladder 21 or “Shoulder Well”
Your “Shoulder Well” is located at the highest point of your shoulders.
If you’ve been feeling like Altas these days, this is the perfect acupressure point to take some of the weight off of your shoulders. The “Shoulder Well” point helps release any stress or tension in your upper body. It also helps clear any anger. Just do NOT use this point during pregnancy as it can induce labor.
3. Liver 3 or “Great Surge”
To find your “Great Surge” point, you’ll just need to find the point between your first and second toes and then move down about an inch.
This point isn’t called “Great Surge” for nothing. This spot is one of the best points to relieve stress and irritability. It’s one of the best points because your “Great Surge” point regulates the flow of qi within your entire body. Also, if you’re feeling tension or increased digestive problems because of stress, this is a great point for you. You might also enjoy our whole flower organic rose tea, which helps calm digestive issues.
4. Large Intestine 4 or “Union Valley Point”
Your “Union Valley Point” is just beyond where your thumb and first finger bones meet. Sometimes this spot can feel a little achy so if you reach a spot that feels a little more sensitive than another spot, you’re probably in the right place!
This is a great self-acupressure point because you can activate it just about anywhere (even out of sight in a stressful Zoom meeting or under the table at dinner with your in-laws). By activating this point you’ll help reduce stress, headaches, and neck pain. Again, do NOT use this point during pregnancy as it can induce labor.
5. “Hall of Impression” (Yin Tang)
Your “Hall of Impression” is located right in the center of the eyebrows, also known as your “third eye.”
This is another great pressure point for emotional well-being. With everything going on in the world these days, emotional overwhelm can be hard to avoid. (We’ve definitely felt a lot of emotions this past year ✋.) By activating your “Hall of Impression,'' you're connecting with the pineal gland which helps promote deep relaxation. Use this acupressure point when you need to calm down or clear out any anxiety or overwhelm.
How does acupressure work?
In the western world there is no consensus on why exactly acupressure works. Some scientists believe that stimulating the pressure points may help release endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving chemicals. Others think that activating the pressure points may stimulate the autonomic nervous system.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is believed that acupressure helps increase the flow of qi, which is your life force. Your qi is made up of two equal, yet opposite forces: yin and yang. TCM practitioners believe that having an imbalance of yin and yang can lead to illness and disease. In order to maintain the balance of your qi, you must maintain balance between your organs as well as external elements. By stimulating the meridians that are connected to your organs, you can help restore balance.
Are there any side effects of acupressure?
After an acupressure session, you may feel sore or slight bruising on any acupressure points. But, acupressure should never feel painful. If you are pressing or massaging to the point that it is uncomfortable, try using a lighter touch. Besides that, acupressure is considered a very safe form of massage. That being said if you have any underlying conditions or are pregnant, you should speak with your doctor before beginning an acupressure regime.
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How else can you add the benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine to my routine?
If you already enjoy acupuncture or acupressure, you can consider trying other TCM wellness practices like Tai Chi as well as enjoying healing herbs. There are hundreds of different herbs that promote healing with the TCM tradition. Each of our herbal teas has a specific healing ability. If you’re looking for glowy skin and hair, a gut health boost, and restful sleep, try our Shangri-La flower tea. If you’re looking for an immune boost or metabolism boost, try our Chrysanthemum blooming tea. Finally, if you want deep relaxation and stress relief, you can try our Blue Lotus flower tea.
But, as always, it is always best to speak to a certified TCM practitioner or doctor to figure out the best plan of action for your specific needs. Also, if you have any questions, we would be happy to answer them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice before choosing at-home healing.
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