“At a time when people are so conscious of maintaining their physical health by controlling their diets, exercising, and so forth, it makes sense to try to cultivate the corresponding mental attitudes too.”
– HH the Dalai Lama, 1963
It can be easy to forget how much our mental state can affect our physical well-being. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, that connection is evident in the treatment strategies, but it is also true that when we are feeling bad, we don’t always think to look at our minds. It works both ways.
As we find ourselves in the middle place between winter and spring that is February, it is common to experience anxiety. Seasons aside, there has been a measured increase in anxiety levels for many people around the world associated with the coronavirus pandemic as well. So, whether feeling anxious is new to you or you know anxiety like an old friend, I wanted to offer five simple acupuncture points you can administer on yourself to help alleviate some of that mental strain, and hopefully boost your physical health as well.
All of these points are accessible while seated or lying down. I recommend using your thumb on each acupoint, gradually applying more pressure until you find a sweet spot where there is some resistance but no pain. Hold that pressure steady while you make small circular movements with your thumb, massaging the point. Take 10 slow breaths, and then release the point. If you are pregnant or have a preexisting health condition, take precautions and check with your primary physician first before applying these acupressure points.
Point 1: Shen men or Heart 7.
This point is located on the inside of your wrist, in the crease, on the side where your pinky finger is. This point is great if you have trouble falling asleep due to anxiety or if you wake up in the middle of the night feeling anxious. Massaging this point calms the heart and anxiety along with it.
Point 2: The third eye or Yintang.
Known well to yogis, this point is located between the eyebrows. This is another good point for insomnia. It is located right over the pineal gland, which helps regulate melatonin. Besides insomnia, this point is known for taking the edge off feelings of restlessness and helps with overall emotional well-being.
Point 3: Pericardium six.
This point is also located on the inside of the forearm, about two inches down from the wrist crease, in the middle of the forearm. While it is often used for nausea, it is also a great point to open the chest and the heart, counteracting the contracting energy of anxiety.
Point 4: Chest center or Conception vessel 17.
This point is located in the center of the chest, between the nipples. For many people, anxiety can feel like a tightness in the chest or shortness of breath. This point relaxes and opens the chest and relaxes the diaphragm.
Point 5: Hundred meetings or Governing vessel 20.
To find this point, use both hands to trace from the tops of the ears to the center of the top of your head. This point can help with racing thoughts and existential anxiety. For those that experience anxiety in their body as jaw clenching, this is a good point for releasing that. This point can also raise yang energy, lifting depression and sadness.
Administering acupressure on yourself is a great daily practice, and these points are a helpful starter pack for anxiety. If your anxiety is ongoing or you would like more support, you can always reach out to me with questions or to set up an appointment.