Acupressure for Stress

This post is copied from our older, original blog. Original post date 06/28/2012. 

By Marcie Bower, Lic.Ac.

Feeling stressed? Try to self-massage these acupuncture points to help yourself feel better. When massaging, apply firm downward pressure on the point – you can use any of your fingers or knuckles to stimulate the point.

Liver 3, Tai Chong, “Great Surge”

Liver 3 (LV3) is located on the top of the foot, in a depression distal to the junction of the 1st and 2nd metatarsal bones. To find this point, start at the web between your big toe and your second toe. Walk your fingers back up your foot, staying between those two metatarsal bones, until the bones meet and you can’t walk your fingers any farther up in the groove. This is LV3. It will likely be sore.

LV3 helps to circulate energy throughout our whole body – when you get stressed, energy flow abruptly stops moving in its natural rhythms and you may feel tense or anxious. LV3 helps to restore your energy flow to its natural patterns to relieve symptoms of stress.

Massage with firm pressure either straight up and down or in a counter-clockwise direction.

Conception Vessel 17, Dan Zhong, “Chest Center”

Conception Vessel 17 (CV17) is located on the sternum (breast-bone), on the midline, directly between the two nipples. If you are feeling stressed, anxious, or upset, the area will likely be sore when you put pressure on it.

CV17 opens and nourishes the Pericardium energy center in the body, which protects our Heart. The Heart is the seat of our emotions in TCM, and when we become stressed our emotional self is thrown out of whack.

Massage CV17 with firm pressure in first a clockwise direction and then a counter-clockwise direction.

Ear Shenmen, “Spirit Gate”

Ear Shenmen is located just above the apex of the triangular fossa of the ear. (See picture). It directly acts on the Spirit (hence its name) to balance the emotions and calm the mind. It is one of the best points on the body to bring down stress levels in the moment of stress. It can be used to treat anxiety, sadness, fear, anger, frustration, impatience, or feeling overwhelmed.

It is easiest to massage by placing the pointer finger on Ear Shenmen and placing the thumb on the same point behind the ear (so your pointer finger and thumb are applying pressure on the point from both sides.) Massage by applying firm pressure and gently moving your fingers back and forth.

Governing Vessel 24, Shen Ting, “Spirit Court” & Gall Bladder 13, Ben Shen, “Root Spirit”

Now you’re ready to massage 3 points at the same time. Together they make a crown along the top of your forehead.

Governing Vessel 24 (GV24) is located on the midline. It is about ½ inch into the hairline. Feel around that area – you’ll find a sore spot if you are feeling particularly stressed, anxious, or upset.

Gall Bladder 13 (GB13) is located about ½ inch into the hairline, too, directly above the outside corner of each eye.

To stimulate these points, put both your hands in front of your face, palms facing you. Join your pinkies together and place them on GV24 (in the middle). Use your pointer fingers to find GB13. Massage all 3 points with firm downward pressure, or alternating clockwise and counterclockwise circles.

Pericardium 6, Nei Guan, “Inner Pass”

Pericardium 6 (PC6) is located on the inside of the wrist, between the two ropey tendons in the center of the wrist, 3 finger-widths up from the wrist crease.

PC6 opens the energy flow in the chest, so is particularly good for stress that causes chest tightness, panic attacks, heart fluttering, etc. It also has a profound effect on quelling nausea so is good if your stomach gets queasy when stressed or anxious. It has a documented relaxation effect and can help you calm yourself down when you get worked up.

To massage, apply firm and steady downward pressure. You can use your nail to really get into the point and stimulate it strongly – it will be sore when you hit the right depth.