How acupressure and acupuncture can help us in times of stress and anxiety
Recent months have been some of the strangest, hardest, most confusing and stressful times of our lives as a global community. Now, more than ever, we're looking for ways to stay healthy both physically, but also mentally. And not only for ourselves, but many parents and carers have seen the effects this pandemic has had on our children and the young people in our society.
We asked our good friend and Traditional Acupuncture expert Melanie Leeson, who specialises in fertility, pregnancy, women’s health and treating children, to pick her favourite acupuncture points to help relieve stress and anxiety. Here’s what Mel had to say, “With over five hundred to choose from this is a not an easy task and I would usually decide based on a full traditional diagnosis. However during lockdown, I have been working online using acupressure with my clients and there are a several points that come up regularly, here are my top four that can be used for adults or children:
Liver 3: Taichong, Great Surge
Good for irritability and tantrums, depression, moving forward with future plans, feeling cooped up and needing to run free!
The point lies on the top of your foot between the first and second toes. Rub your finger along the outside edge of your or your child’s big toe until you get to the base of the big toe joint, at this level move onto the top of your foot and feel for a tender dip between the big toe and second toe.
If you are doing this on yourself find the points gently and feel for a tender spot or ache, when you are ready inhale through your nose for about 4 counts and on the exhale press on the point and breathe out through your mouth for 5 counts. Each time you inhale try to visualise you are breathing in revitalising energy or Qi through your nose and taking your breath down to your belly. On each exhale sigh out the breath through your mouth and press down on the points feeling for the tender spot. On each inhale release the pressure. Do this for about 6-10 deep breaths either bilaterally or one foot at a time. If you are doing this for your child use a lighter touch, holding their foot in your hand, feel for the dip and gently massaging the point for 1-2 minutes on each foot.
Kidney 1: Yongquan, Bubbling Spring
Good for: insomnia, feeling hot headed, calming and grounding, connecting to the earth.
This point is a third of the way down the sole of the foot, scrunch up your toes and feel for a tender spot just below the base of the big toe on the centre line.
You can press and release the point using the acupressure technique described above. Or you can squeeze Liver 3 on the top of the foot with Kidney 1 on the sole of the foot at the same time. Again if you are doing this for yourself, inhale for 4 beats and out for 5 or longer. This can be really helpful before bed or if you or your child is finding it hard to sleep. Drawing the Qi or energy downwards can be very soothing and grounding.
Heart 7: Shen Men, Spirit Gate
Good for: insomnia, anxiety, feeling unsettled or jumpy, connects to our spirit and self.
This point is on the wrist crease. Run your thumb along the little finger side of your opposite hand to the wrist crease, find a small square bone at the corner of your wrist (pisiform) and jump over it to a small notch in the bone where you can press with your thumb. For yourself apply gentle continuous pressure to the point whilst breathing deeply; in through the nose and out through the mouth. Again try to make your exhale slightly longer than your inhale for 6-10 breaths on both sides.
This is another great calming point for children, holding your child’s hand in yours gently feel for the notch at the wrist crease and rub the point with your thumb for 1-2 minutes.
Yintang: Seal Hall
Good for: calming the mind, anxiety and agitation, corresponds to our third eye, helpful to clear the sinuses and to see more clearly what lies ahead.
This point lies directly between the eyebrows on the centreline.
Use delicate pressure with this point. When using it on myself I like to add one drop of essential oil to the centre of my palm so I can inhale the scent and benefit from the oil whilst connecting with the point. *Lavender is good to calm the mind and opens the heart and chest, or Eucalyptus to enliven the senses, benefit the lungs and clear the sinuses. Again using continuous gentle pressure on the point whilst breathing in and out for 10 or more breaths will help you feel calm and clear headed. I think this is one of the most requested acupuncture points in my clinics.
When using this for your child you can use a gentle stroking motion from Yintang along each eyebrow or simply apply a light and gentle touch here for about a minute.
*Lavender is safe to use on the skin after 12 weeks of pregnancy. Using a vapouriser for essential oils is perfectly safe at any stage and an excellent way to feel uplifted and energised during pregnancy.
- Short nails are best so you can apply pressure with thumbs or fingertips
- Feel for a gentle ache or connection with each point and your own Qi or energy
- If a point feels good, sit with it for longer, your body will often tell you which ones feel right
- Test out finding the points on yourself before trying them on your child.
Melanie Leeson is an experienced Traditional Acupuncturist based in Bath and Bristol. She specialises in fertility, pregnancy, women’s health and treating children. www.melanieleesonacupuncture.co.uk
Images kindly reproduced with permission from: A Manual of Acupuncture, written by Peter Deadman, Mazin Al-Khafaji with Kevin Baker.