Few things are more relaxing than getting a massage. Whether that means a doe-eyed plea for your S.O. to rub your feet after a long day of work, a post workout shiatsu from your trainer at the gym, sitting in one of those pulsating chairs at the mall, or actually going to a spa for a full Swedish deep-tissue, so much of your stress is held in your muscles—specifically, your pressure points. Pressure points are the places on the body that an acupuncturist sticks with needles to release tension, but there are ways to get those pressure relieving benefits, sans prick of the needle, too. By knowing exactly where certain pressure points reside, what they do, and how to release them, you can learn just how to use acupressure to find relief from tension and stress while increasing circulation in the body.
Acupressure has been used for more than 2,000 years in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The belief is that each pressure point is connected to the stress, health, or wellbeing of a specific organ in the body. Stimulating these points is signal to the body and brain that that specific organ needs some help healing, self-regulating, or relaxing. To use the techniques effectively, it’s important to relax, close your eyes, and breathe through each stimulation and to use a deep, firm pressure on each point. To totally elevate the experience and make the relaxation benefits even more effective, try giving yourself these quick stress-relieving massages with a soothing massage oil.
According to Elizabeth Trattner, A.P., an integrative medical specialist based in Miami, to relieve pain and ease anxiety, you can stimulate five pressure points for stress relief and optimal relaxation.
If you have a tension headache
Large intestine 4
This point is located on the hand, in the web of the thumb and first finger and is the command point of the face and neck, so is great for easing the mind and related headache pain. Take your thumb and place it on the web of your hand with the thumb pointing into the first finger and squeeze, forming a ridge above the thumb. The point is in the middle of that ridge, just above the end of the crease formed by thumb and forefinger.
If you are sad or experiencing grief
This minor chakra in the center of the palm is used for trauma and loss. If you take your thumb into the center of your palm and press you have found it. Gently rub or palpate this point to release the tension it holds.
If you have anxiety related stomach issues
Located in the white inside part of the arm, two fingers up from the wrist crease between the tendons, this point is excellent for anxiety, stress, and the resulting nausea and vomiting (it even helps with nausea during pregnancy or menstruation). Use your thumb and press into the tendons in your arm to relieve the symptoms.
If you’re experiencing brain fog
If you are feeling a bit out of it, slower than usual, or foggy, this point, located above your hairline at both corners of your forehead, is great to rub or palpate to increase mental clarity.
If you are having trouble sleeping
Heart 7 and Pericardium 6
These two points are close together and work in tandem to help you fall and stay asleep. Flip your arm over to the underside, then go to the wrist and raw a straight line from the pinky, upwards. This crease is H7. Make a fist and put three fingers across your wrist, between the tendons in P6.
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