Stress in an unavoidable feature of life. Nobody likes it, but it's not as if there's some button that you can press to turn stress on and off... or is there? If you believe in the alternative medicine technique called acupressure, then that's pretty close to what happens when you apply pressure to specific points on your body.
Studies have found that acupressure can effectively treat a range of health conditions, including nausea, pain, headaches, and stress. While some skeptics have raised questions about the science behind the alternative, non-invasive practice — arguing that it's more of a placebo effect than a legitimate, physiological response — many report that the practice, which is rooted in traditional Chinese medicine, has improved their quality of life.
There are a number of pressure points throughout the body that are associated with stress relief in particular. Just apply pressure, massage each point, relax your body, and repeat as necessary. That's the standard method recommended by experts at UCLA's Center for East-West Medicine, an integrative medical school that has developed techniques based on traditional Chinese practices that have been around for more than 2,000 years.
Here are five pressure points that can relieve stress.
1. He Gu
Locate the highest spot of the muscle when the thumb and index fingers are closed together and massage it for four to five seconds. This pressure point is used to treat stress, headaches, toothaches, facial pain, and neck pain.
2. Jian Jing
Pinch the shoulder muscle with your thumb and middle finger and stimulate the point for four to five seconds. It's commonly used for stress, facial pain, headaches, toothaches, and neck pain.
3. Tai Chong
This pressure point is used to treat stress, lower back pain, high blood pressure, menstrual cramps, limb pain, insomnia, and anxiety. Apply pressure on your foot about two finger widths above the place where the skin of your big toe and the next toe join.
4. Feng Chi
Use your thumb to follow the mastoid (ear) bone down the groove back to where the neck muscles attach to the skull and apply pressure. This acupressure technique is recommended for stress, headache, migraine, eye blurriness, fatigue, low energy, and cold/flu symptoms.
5. Zu San Li
"In traditional Chinese literature and practice, this point is frequently stimulated for health promotion and longevity," UCLA wrote. It's also commonly used for gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, stress, and fatigue.
If you'd prefer a step-by-step guide to acupressure for stress, check out this video: