We all have that perfect answer in our heads when asked the question “How do you deal with stress?”. Some of us drift off to a day well spent at an oriental spa, or an afternoon of wine tasting in the Hunter Valley. For others, that happy place may lie in a sun bed with cocktails by the pristine Maldivian beaches. Unfortunately for most of us, it is difficult to be privy to such luxuries on a regular basis, and as reality sets in and the stress builds up even more, we must look for more suitable and accessible ways to relieve the toil of daily stress in our lives. Acute massage therapy administered to relieve the body’s pressure points is a good place to start.
Pressure points refer to specific areas of the body that succumb to pain when manipulated. In massage therapy, the ancient treatments of acupuncture and acupressure are administered to key pressure points around the body to relieve the build up of tension in sore muscles, release pain and pressure from tired joints and alleviate stress to restore harmony to the mind, body and soul. Some pressure points are more important than others, and it is believed that by applying sufficient pressure to these areas, the “Qi” (energy) that flows through our bodies can be released.
Here is a list of the 5 pressure points that can release the Qi and relieve stress:
1. The Third Eye Point
This is located exactly at the centre point between the eyebrows and is the most effective pressure point to lower anxiety. Applying gentle pressure here activates your pituitary gland and stimulates the production of Cortisol, or the “stress hormone”, to bring back balance to the body. It also helps strengthen the endocrine system and aids with digestion problems. Simply bring your middle and index fingers together to find your tender spot and press down for approximately a minute or 2, all the while remembering to close your eyes, breathe, and relax your shoulders.
2. The Shoulder Well
This point can be found between the base of the neck and the point of the shoulder and is a key point to help free up Qi. The application of pressure here helps relax nervousness and palpitations and is known to help increase one’s resilience to the cold and fever. In order to activate this point, curve fingers in a hook-like fashion and place on each shoulder, firmly pressing down on the point using the fingertips and gently massaging through while taking deep, long breaths.
3. The Forearm
There are 4 pressure points located along the forearm, all of which bear positive emotional relief when activated. The first point, known as “daling”, is located on the wrist itself on the wrist crease above the pinky finger. “Nei guan” can be found 3 fingers up the arm from daling. “Jianshi” is a further 2 fingers up and finally, “xi men” is positioned midway between the elbow and the wrist. To stimulate each of these points, press down firmly with the thumb and massage for 1 to 2 minutes.
4. The Conception Vessel
Also known as the ‘Sea of Tranquillity’, this pressure point is located in the middle of the breastbone and can be activated by firmly pressing down with the thumb while breathing slowly and evenly. And just as the word tranquillity suggests, it helps soothe tension in the chest, alleviate emotional imbalance and reduce the feelings of anxiety, depression, anguish and nervousness. Additionally, it helps treat conditions such as asthma, the cough and sore throats.
5. The Feet
Just like the forearm, there are several points located at the bottom and top of the feet that are a great way to deal with stress, anxiety and worry, and promote a healthy flow of Qi throughout the body. 2 key points can be found at the top of the foot, between the big and second toes, and at the bottom of your feet, between the ball of the foot and the arch. Both provide seemingly instant relief and relaxation.