Acupressure for Anxiety
Anxiety is a normal reaction to the stresses of life; it is part of our survival instincts. But when anxiety becomes overwhelming or occurs disproportionate to the stress, it can disrupt our lives. Fortunately, acupressure can help us manage our anxiety. Acupressure can be self-administered to calm our mind and overcome our anxiety.
What is Acupressure?
Acupressure is a method of Traditional Chinese Medicine massage based upon the same foundational concepts of Acupuncture. By using finger pressure to stimulate acupressure points, we can adjust the flow of Qi, or energy, in our body. Circulating our Qi can strongly affect our emotional state, helping us better manage stress and anxiety.
Acupressure usually involves the use of the fingers, but also includes the use of elbows, feet, or other blunt tools to stimulate acupressure points. Acupressure can be a great tool to help manage stress, relieve anxiety, and harmonize the flow of Qi in our body.
What Causes Anxiety?
Anxiety is usually a normal reaction to a stressful situation that is occurring in your life. However, sometimes we may experience anxiety even though the stress is not that big, or we find ourselves worrying about everything in life. This excessive worrying can begin to disrupt our sleep, making it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. Phobias of social situations or other circumstances may also induce anxiety. In severe cases, anxiety can cause panic attacks with symptoms including shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, dizziness, chest pain, or uncontrollable crying.
But why do we get anxiety? It is believed that the cause of anxiety is related to either genetics or traumatic experiences. Our genetics greatly influence our brain chemistry, a complex system of neurochemicals that balance our emotional state; disruptions in this balance are often passed through family lines. Prior trauma can alter our response to future stresses; the mind over-reacts leading to ongoing anxiety.
In Oriental Medicine, anxiety disorders are related to an imbalance of the Heart and Kidney energy. When the fire of the Heart organ becomes uncontrolled by the water of the Kidney, the fire rises up to disturb the mind. Often, our Kidney energy is weakened by a poor lifestyle of excessive stress and overwork. As the Heart fire continues to be excessive for an extended period of time, our symptoms can increase leading to more severe cases. Acupressure can be used to manage our anxiety or may function as complementary care along with prescribed medication or therapy.
How Can Acupressure Help Anxiety?
There are several acupressure points that can help us manage anxiety with immediate relief. While it is best to use acupressure charts to map out the locations, we’ll provide a good description of the location of these acupressure points to help you find them on your body.
Our first acupressure point for anxiety is called Yin Tang. Yin Tang is considered an extra point in acupuncture meridian theory, and therefore does not have an organ associated with it. Yin Tang is translated as Hall of Impression, and has been referred to in many spiritual texts as the third eye. Yin Tang is a powerful acupressure point to calm our spirit for anxiety, insomnia, and agitation.
Yin Tang is located on the midline of our face, directly in between our two eyebrows. A slight depression can be felt beneath the skin. Since this acupressure point is located on a shallow area of our face, it is generally not tender to the touch. By using the end of our fingernail on the acupressure point, we can quickly feel the effects of the mild stimulation.
The next point for management of anxiety is called Pericardium 6. In Chinese, it is referred to as Nei Guan, or Inner Gate. In Oriental Medicine, the Pericardium is considered the Heart protector and is treated to affect the Heart indirectly, especially for emotional difficulties. Acupressure stimulation of Pericardium 6 can calm your mind, stop nausea, and reduce anxiety.
Pericardium 6 is located on the inner side of your wrist. To find the acupressure point, place your first three fingers together, and lay them at the crease of your wrist. The acupressure point is located between the two tendons in the middle of your wrist, right where the edge of your index finger crosses these tendons. Feel around in this area for the most active point and apply steady pressure with your finger.
The next acupressure point to use for anxiety is Kidney 1. The Chinese name of the acupressure point is Yong Quan, translated as Gushing Spring. Due to its location on the bottom of the foot, Kidney 1 is considered the most important acupressure point to ground a person, reconnecting them to Earth energy. This means that the acupressure point can drain an excessive Heart fire that is agitating the mind and causing anxiety or anger.
To find Kidney 1, examine the sole of your foot. Kidney 1 is located just behind the ball of the foot, in the middle of the sole. You can apply steady pressure to the acupressure point or try rubbing the area with your palms. Alternatively, you can soak you feet in warm water to activate the acupressure point and guide your energy down.
Acupressure should be applied from top to bottom, starting with Yin Tang, then Pericardium 6, and finally Kidney 1. This order of treatment will help guide your energy downward. Treating these acupressure points should have immediate effects on your mental state and provide a calming relief.
Helpful Tips for Acupressure for Anxiety
- Breathe deeply when performing acupressure on yourself.
- Focus your attention on the acupressure point as you apply stimulation to increase the effects.
- Acupressure stimulation should feel strong, but should not be an uncomfortable level of pressure.
- Perform acupressure on these points when you first begin to feel anxiety, and keep applying pressure until the anxiety subsides.
- A meditation and Tai Chi practice can help us manage our stress and train our minds to remain calm in difficult situations.