Ever wish you could just bottle up that wonderful feeling of pure relaxation and euphoria you experience after receiving an acupuncture treatment? Never had acupuncture, but keep reading about all the stress-relieving benefits? Then, acupressure may be right up your alley. By learning about a few simple acupuncture points and their locations, you can give yourself a relaxing acupressure session to better manage stress.
Since Mother's Day is just a little over a week away, I created this post with all you moms in mind (however, EVERYONE can benefit from a little stress relief so please keep reading if a tool for de-stressing sounds good to you). Let's face it. Many of you moms are running day in and day out. Shuttling kids back and forth from school to daycare to after-school activities. Many of you allow yourselves to be pampered and catered to a couple of times per year--Mother's Day and birthdays--and then you spend the remaining 363 days of the year (364 on Leap Year) caring for others. Does this sound familiar?
While setting time aside for yourself may seem impossible, try not to wait until you're sick and exhausted before taking care of yourself. In an effort to help you de-stress, here is a simple 5-10 minute acupressure routine you can do at home, work, or pretty much anywhere you can sit and unwind for a bit.
Massaging and applying pressure to the points listed below for 30-60 seconds each can give you a nice, relaxing DIY (do-it-yoursel) acupressure session. Which point to start with? People who tend to feel heat rising up toward their head when they're upset, or tension headaches under stress, often feel relief when starting with the points on the head and working down toward the feet (this helps pull that energy downward and get you out of your head--so to speak). On the other hand, people who feel completely drained and even a little 'spacey', may benefit by starting from the feet because this can help bring a little energy upward. Are you mix of types? Try one way first and then the other way the next time. Listen to your body's response and see which way feels the best to you.
Located right between the eyebrows.
This point is known to calm the spirit (or shen). It is used to help calm anxiety and some people even use it to help with insomnia. It can also help to relieve headaches (especially those in the forehead region), and it can help clear nasal congestion or a runny nose.
This point is located in the center of the chest midway between the nipples (level with the fourth intercostal space). It is on the mid-line of the body. This point is known as the 'influential point of Qi'. It can help regulate Qi (or energy) which often gets stuck or stagnant when people are stressed. The point can help relax the chest and release the diaphragm. It's wonderful for people who tend to feel the effects of stress and anxiety in their chest region.
LI4 (Large Intestine 4)- CONTRAINDICATED IN PREGNANCY- This point is located on both hands. If you squeeze your thumb against the base of your index finger, it is located at the highest point on the bulge of the muscle. This point promotes the smooth flow of Qi, and when combined with LV3 (you'll see this point described below), they make up what is called the 4 Gates--a combination that helps to keep the Qi and Blood flowing through the body. Because it can be such a 'moving' point, it is NOT USED during pregnancy. In addition to being used to calm the emotions, it is also often used to treat constipation, headaches, and toothaches. Because this point is located bilaterally, massage one hand first and then the other before moving onto the next point.
ST 36 (Stomach 36)
This point is located below the knee. It's about one hand breadth below the bottom edge of the patella (kneecap). The easiest way to find this point is to run your hand up your shin bone until you hit a little bump ( which will be approximately 1 hand breadth below the bottom of the kneecap). ST 36 will be 1 finger breadth (width of middle finger) lateral. If you feel around you can usually find a sensitive spot. This is a MAJOR stomach point and helps with many stomach issues. I like to use this point for stress because many people 'hold' stress in their stomach. They sometimes feel tightness, indigestion, or even pain in their stomach due to stress. This point is also a WONDERFUL immune boosting point, and it can actually be massaged daily to help boost immunity.
LV3 (Liver 3)
This point is located on the dorsum (or top) of the foot. It's in the space between the big toe and the second toe. If you press into your foot near the web between your toes and slide your finger back toward your ankle you'll run into the bony junction separating your big toe and second toe. LV 3 is just distal to the junction. This point helps move the Qi to keep energy flowing. Again, energy can become stuck when someone is dealing with stress. If you've ever seen an acupuncturist you may have heard the phrase 'Liver Qi Stagnation'. This point spreads the Qi and is often used to help PMS symptoms such as irritibaility. This point is also said to nourish the blood which makes it very useful when treating gynecological issues.
KD 1 (Kidney 1)
This point is located on the sole (or bottom) of the foot. If you point your toes, it is in the depression the forms near the upper middle portion of the foot. Pointing the toes usually creates a nice sized divet which can make it pretty simple to find. This point is wonderful at helping people to get out of their head. It is often used because it is considered a 'grounding' point and can help pull energy downward. It works well for those people who suffer from insomnia, especially due to incessant thinking. This point also helps to calm the spirit and is often used to calm anger and irritability.
Yin Tang, Ren 17, LI4, ST36, LV3, and KD1. There are 10 points total (counting the fact that most of the points are found on both the right and left sides of the body). *A little hint** Diffusing some essential oils, such as lavender, and putting on some nice quiet music can take an acupressure session to a whole new level. HOWEVER, you can see that each point has some individual properties and can be used on its own. For example, if you wake up in the middle of the night and just can't shut your brain off, massaging KD1 may help. Or, if you're feeling a little tightness in your chest due to anxiety, a little massage near Ren 17 may open things up. Hopefully these points will give you a little extra tool to add to your wellness arsenal.
Wishing you a very happy, healthy Mother's Day!!
All infographics used with permission. Credit: A Manual Of Acupuncture by Peter Deadman
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