In a year of isolation, the difference that touch can make to our mood and wellbeing has never been more apparent. It’s so powerful, in fact, that a world of wellness has developed around it.
It’s the basis behind reflexology and it’s at the core of the ancient chinese practice of acupressure.
You know when a work task is screwing with you, and you hold your head in your hands to help you focus – guess what? You’re giving yourself some acupressure. The simple act of pressing your temples can help to release strain. It comes so naturally to us, we do it unconsciously.
Based on the same principles as acupuncture (only without the needles), acupressure seeks to alleviate the tension in our body and balance our energy by applying pressure – in this case, with our fingertips – to different tactical points from our head to our toes.
The ancient theory goes that meridians, or invisible channels in our body, become blocked, preventing the flow of energy (or ‘qi’). When these channels become blocked, it can throw us out of whack leading to stress, tension and sickness. Centuries later, modern medicine corroborates that practices like acupuncture and acupressure can help reduce muscle tension and improve circulation, releasing endorphins and, in some cases, relieving pain. That’s a lot of kudos for your fingertips.
Here’s four simple acupressure exercises you can do yourself according to pro physiotherapist, acupuncturist and massage therapist, Renata Nunes, whose customisable blend of treatments are sought out to help relieve pain, muscle tension, poor circulation, insomnia, stress and anxiety.
To soothe anxiety
Remember I was talking about holding your head in your hands? Try this instead… “Press the Yin Tang Acupuncture Point located between the eyebrows,” says Renata. Use your index finger to apply pressure and hold there for around 15 seconds. “This is one of the main points which when stimulated helps to soothe and relieve anxiety,” Renata adds.
To calm the heart
If your heart feels like it’s beating out of your chest, use pressure from your fingertips to help slow it down. “Press gently on the CV17 (conception vessel 17) acupoint, which is located in the centre of the chest between the nipples,” says Renata. Use your middle three fingers and press gently directly between your breasts. “This point calms the heart and deepens the breath,” she explains.
To ease your mind
You know how travel bands apply pressure to your wrists to stop you vomming all over fellow passengers? This follows the same logic. On the anterior inner forearm, press the Pericardium 6, which is located three fingers below the wrist, between the tendons,” says Renata. Using your thumb push the central point three fingers beneath your wrist. “It is a good point to use for nausea, to calm the mind and reduce anxiety,” she adds.
To boost your energy
Before you get confused, by this next point, Stomach 36 acupoint is located… under your knee. It’s thought that there’s a vital meridian there that leads to your stomach since our body is so connected. “If you are feeling tired, apply pressure on the Stomach 36 acupoint, which is a powerful point to increase the energy,” says Renata. “The point is located about a hand’s length below the patella (kneecap), outside the prominent tibia bone on the lower leg,” e.g. slightly outside of the centre (away from your other leg) on each knee.