The Best Pressure Points to Relieve Anxiety
Nearly everyone has experienced anxiety at some point in their life. Fear. Fear over even the most routine tasks—a fear that’s known to affect many people, more than you may know.
You are not alone.
While having anxiety around “normal” situations, such as test-taking or public speaking, tends to go unnoticed or forgiven, there’s plenty more that goes under the radar and that isn’t willfully acknowledged. Some anxiety symptoms can become all-consuming. Excessive. They can interfere with your daily life on the basest level. Symptoms—to name a few—including:
– feelings of panic, intense worry, or fear
– muscle tension
– difficulty concentrating
– a feeling of a lack of control
– difficulty sleeping
– digestive issues
Kind of covers the board, right?
Solutions, or at least modes of treatment, for anxiety do exist. It can be treated with therapy, medication, a combination of both. One of several alternative treatments is acupressure.
Acupressure is a bodywork modality originating from traditional Chinese medicine which has been known to provide temporary relief from a number of ailments, including those associated with anxiety.
We all know that the benefits of human touch are countless. Unfortunately, reflexology and acupressure remain under-studied bodywork modalities, but their effectiveness has been sung from the rooftops by many for centuries. Acupressure is about stimulating pressure points. Pressure points are believed to be powerfully sensitive areas of our anatomy that, when applied with pressure, can help relieve pain, establish balance, and improve health in localized regions of and throughout the body.
Here are the best pressure points if you’re looking to relieve anxiety. (For added relief incorporate slow, deep breaths while working on your own pressure points.)
1. Hall of Impression Point
Chinese acupressure name: Yintang
The Hall of Impression Point resides between your eyebrows (at your third eye). Applying pressure here is said to help calm the mind, relieving anxiety and stress.
To use this point: Use your index finger to gently massage this area in a circular motion for 1-2 minutes.
2. Heavenly Gate Point
Chinese acupressure name: Shen Men
The Heavenly Gate Point is found in the upper area of your ear, at the tip of the triangle-like hollow there. Its name no doubt derives from the fact that many people claim this pressure point as their go-to for relieving anxiety, stress, insomnia, and pain anywhere in the body.
To use this point: Using a mirror, find the point in your ear. Apply a firm but gentle pressure, going in slow circular motion, for two minutes.
3. Shoulder Well Points
Chinese Acupressure Name: Jian Jing
The Shoulder Well Points are located at the highest point of the shoulder (in the trapezius muscle), at the midpoint between the rotator cuff and the spine. Stimulating this pressure point will create an immediate release of tension, and can also help soothe headaches and stress. (Note: Don’t use this point if you’re pregnant.)
To use this point: Find the point on your trapezius (shoulder) muscle and pinch it with your thumb and middle finger. Apply gentle yet firm pressure with your index finger and massage the point for four to five seconds. You may release the pinch and massage the area. Repeat once or twice.
4. Union Valley Point
Chinese Acupressure Name: He Gu
You’ll find the location of this pressure point in the webbing between your index finger and thumb. Stimulating this point is another common go-to for headache and stress relief. It's also effective for relieving pain and regulating elimination. Just like the Shoulder Well Point, avoid this point if you’re pregnant.
To use this point: With your thumb and index finger, apply sustained firm pressure to this point for four to five seconds, and then continue to massage the point for another four to five seconds. Repeat once or twice.
5. Inner Frontier Gate Point
Chinese Acupressure Name: Neiguan
You can find this point on your arm, about three fingers’ width up from your wrist. Stimulating this point may help to reduce anxiety. It also relaxes the chest, specifically the heart region.
To use this point: Turn your hand palm-up. With your other hand, find the point in the center of your forearm about three fingers’ width below your wrist. You’ll find the point in the hollow between the tendons. Apply pressure and massage for four to five seconds.
6. Great Surge Point
Chinese Acupressure Name: Tai Chong
The Great Surge Pressure Point is found on your foot. About two to three fingers’ width below where your big toe and second toe meet, it is found in the hollow there, just above the bone. This pressure point not only helps with reducing anxiety and stress, but it can also be used for facial pain, toothaches, and menstrual cramps.
To use this point: Locate the point by sliding your finger straight down between your first two toes until you hit the hollow. Apply firm, deep pressure, and massage for four to five seconds.
Keep In Mind
While there are some small studies that have proved acupressure for anxiety is beneficial, there is, sadly, limited academic and scientific research available. Even the studies that have proven acupressure successful also suggest that acupressure is better relied upon for providing TEMPORARY relief from symptoms.
So, when it comes down to it, do everything you can to maintain a calm, stress-free mind. It’s hard to do—everyone struggles with it to varying extents. But your mental health is important. Maintain any therapy, stress management techniques, or other treatments prescribed by your doctor. But acupressure is more than worth a shot. You’re worth it.
If you would like to learn more about pressure points, we suggest the cook called Acupuncture Points Handbook.
Zach Stahlecker, CMT, CAMTC #41331
Zach Stahlecker is an experienced bodyworker in Sacramento and owner of Sacramento Massage Studio. Over the years, he has created a thriving practice and an environment that unites serenity with healing. He prides himself on providing professional therapeutic services in a warm and comfortable manner.
Other articles you might also be interested in: 4 Steps To Destroy Stress
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