Anxiety is one of the most common health conditions faced by millions of people around the world. Most individuals face anxiety at a particular stage in their lives. You may feel mild symptoms of anxiety, fear, or depression when going through a rough or scratchy phase in life, or when experiencing a stressful or challenging situation.
You may also face more long-lasting, severe symptoms that can have a profound and adverse effect on your daily life, such as restlessness, irritability, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, feeling of worry or panic, digestive problems, nausea, muscle spasm, headache, and more.
Anxiety is usually treated with medication, therapy, or both. However, there’re several effective alternative treatments available out there, such as acupressure, which can come in handy to improve your symptoms.
Acupressure may well offer relief from the symptoms of anxiety. Acupressure for anxiety works on the principle of stimulating pressure acupoints in our body, either with the assistance of a licensed acupuncturist or on our own.
Anxiety is one of the most common health conditions faced by more than 40mn adults across the US aged 18 or above or reported by 18.1 percent of the US population annually. Anxiety is easily treatable, yet just 36.9 percent of all anxiety patients in the United States receive treatment for it.
Walk through this brief post to understand how acupressure can help improve your symptoms associated with anxiety.
Is Acupressure for Anxiety Treatment a Viable Option?
Anxiety is one of the most common disorders faced by billions of people around the world. While the root cause of anxiety varies from person to person, treatment options available are more or less the same.
While there are several treatment options available to improve the symptoms of anxiety, including meditation, counseling and anti-anxiety pills, each of them have their limitations such as adverse side effects, associated cost, etc., the traditional Chinese practice of acupressure is widely recommended to get quick relief from the symptoms of anxiety without any harmful side effects.
With acupressure, firm pressure is applied on certain specific points (known as acupoints) on the patient’s body. Exerting firm and repeated pressure on these acupressure points for anxiety aids in relieving muscle tension and spasm, promoting blood circulation, and releasing the natural painkiller of your body to improve the symptoms of anxiety. When used in combination with other modes of treatment such as medicines or meditation, acupressure for anxiety comes in handy to deliver exceptional results.
[Also Read: Get Rid of Anxiety Naturally]
Benefits of Acupressure Therapy
The toxins built up in the regions of the qi (energy) blockage flow effortlessly across our bloodstream and out of our body. At times, you might feel a little nauseous (due to the flushing out of the harmful toxins) when firm pressure is applied on the respective acupoints, although this feeling goes away rather quickly.
It aids in regulating the menstrual cycle, reducing blood pressure, treating tummy issues and mental anxiety, and reducing labor pain. Diverse health conditions, including migraine, insomnia, headache, nausea, and indigestion can be quickly and easily treated using acupuncture. Also, it aids in increasing the energy levels in our body.
[Read: Practice Meditation for Anxiety]
What do Studies Reveal about using Acupressure for Anxiety?
There is a lack of research regarding the use of acupressure and acupoints for treating anxiety. However, researchers have already started exploring various alternative treatments for anxiety.
Most existing researches have reflected the effect of anxiety pressure points for treating anxiety and stress before a medical procedure or any stressful situation, instead of general anxiety. Though, all the studies carried out have been quite small. However, the results of these studies have been promising.
In 2015, a review of different existing studies analyzed the impact of acupressure(1) on anxiety and found that it seemed to aid in relieving anxiety or stress ahead of critical medical procedures such as invasive surgery.
Another study carried out in the same year analyzed the anxiety levels of 85 patients hospitalized for the treatment of cancer and found that acupressure helped in reducing their anxiety substantially.
Later in 2016, a study focused on 77 women suffering from extreme menstrual pain found a considerable decrease in anxiety by applying moderate pressure to the Great Surge acupoint at the end of 3 menstrual cycles.
In 2018, a major study revealed that acupressure(2) helped improve the symptoms of anxiety and stress in women undergoing fertility treatments.
As most of these studies revealed that acupressure is only a temporary solution to resolve the symptoms of anxiety, it recommends that you practice it in combination with other forms of anxiety management methods such as medicines and meditation.
[Read: Treat Anxiety with Acupuncture]
Stimulating Pressure Points for Anxiety Relief
Applying a firm pressure regularly on the acupoints discussed below can help relieve the symptoms of anxiety when practiced in combination with other modes of anxiety relief methods:
1. Hall of Impression Point
Hall of an impression pressure point is located right between your eyebrows. Apply a firm pressure regularly on this acupoint to get good relief from stress and anxiety.
To Use this Acupoint:
- Sit calmly with your eyes closed.
- Touch the pressure point between the eyebrows gently with your thumb or the index finger.
- Take deep breaths slowly and apply a firm yet gentle pressure on the acupoint for some 5 to 10 minutes in a circular motion.
2. Heavenly Gate
Heavenly gate pressure point can be found in our ear’s upper shell, right at the tip of the hollow, triangle-like area. Stimulating this acupoint helps relieve insomnia, stress, and anxiety.
To Use this Acupoint:
- Find the pressure point in the upper area of your ear. Using a mirror can help.
- Apply a gentle but firm pressure for some 2 to 3 minutes in a circular motion.
3. Shoulder WellPoint
The shoulder well point is in your shoulder muscle. To find it, pinch your shoulder muscle with your middle finger and thumb. The location of the pressure point is in your shoulder muscles. To identify it, you can pinch the shoulder muscle using your thumb and the middle finger. This acupoint helps to relieve headache, muscle tension, and stress.
To Use this Acupoint:
- Locate the acupoint on your shoulder muscles.
- Pinch the muscle with your middle finger and the thumb.
- Apply a firm but gentle pressure on the point with the index finger and mildly massage the acupoint for some 4 to 5 seconds.
- Massage the point gently as you release the pinch.
4. Union Valley Point
You will find this pressure point in the webbing between your thumb and index finger. This acupoint is in the webbing between your index finger and the thumb. Stimulating it helps relieve neck pain, headache, and stress.
To Use this Acupoint:
- Apply firm but gentle pressure to the point with your thumb and index finger.
- Massage the point gently for some 4 to 5 seconds, taking deep, slow breaths.
[Read: Control Anxiety with Yoga]
Risk Factors and Precautions You Must Take
While acupressure is entirely harmless and can easily be self-practiced at home, there are certain points of safety that you must consider ensuring you get the most favorable results, such as:
- In case you’re pregnant, it is essential for you to be aware of the acupoints on your body that are regarded as off-limits for pregnant women since they might encourage labor.
- Anyone suffering from some life-threatening ailment or critical health condition must always consult their health physician before adopting acupressure treatments.
- Remember that acupressure is not intended to serve as an alternative for necessary medical procedures, intervention, and advice.
- Know your limits and be kind with your body. Applying to much pressure can hurt you instead of providing some symptomatic relief from anxiety and stress.
- Consult a licensed acupressure expert to learn about acupressure techniques for anxiety and stress management.
Acupressure can serve as a beneficial tool to temporarily manage your anxiety and associated symptoms; however, there’s a need for more extensive research to support the use of acupressure as a standalone treatment for chronic anxiety. Still, practicing acupressure on the pressure points given in this post during the times of acute anxiousness or stress can undoubtedly help.
Just ensure you keep up with other modes of treatment as recommended by your health physician and consult them in case your anxiety symptoms become severe or start affecting your day-to-day life.