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You can relieve major stress by massaging a certain part of your ear

Ally Hirschlag is a producer/actor/writer who lives in Brooklyn, NY and buys way too many toys for her cats. She contributes to several publications, including Bustle, and The Nerve, and enjoys writing about all things woman. In her spar...

Massaging your upper ear will help relieve stress in tough moments

Stress has probably affected your mind and/or body at one time or another. and whether it's caused by work, finances, relationship problems or just missing the train, stress feels terrible, and can seriously impact your health over time.

According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, the average American considers their stress level to be a 4.9 out of 10. While that may not sound so bad at first, it does when you compare it to 3.7, which is what the Association considers a "healthy" level of stress.

While our bodies are designed to withstand high levels of stress for abbreviated periods of time, long-term stress can wreck havoc on us. According to Psychology Today, if you're prone to stress, you could be upping your risk of cardiovascular disease. Your blood pressure rises when you're stressing, and scientists believe if your levels are rising often, your average blood pressure will go up, too. Stressed-out people also tend to have weaker immune systems, skin problems and chronic pain, and can even suffer from infertility.

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Needless to say, it's important to find time to relax and restore your body in any way that works for you, and this new massage method might be your answer to quick and easy stress relief.

It was developed by Dr. Mark Sandomirsky, a psychiatrist whose work appears on a Russian health network. The method is basic psycho-reflexology, but specifically targeted at the upper ears. According to auricular therapists Dr. Bryan L. Frank and Dr. Nader Soliman, the upper ear, also known as the Shen Men or the Chinese "heavenly gate," is a key acupressure point. Massaging it can help cure a number of ailments including pain, sedation, addiction and inflammation.

In fact, in eastern medicine, the ear as a whole is supposed to represent the entire body. The ear is full of nerve endings that correspond with other areas in the body, so a gentle massage should work to relax you more than you might otherwise think.

In order to perform this therapeutic massage on yourself, all you need are your fingers, a cotton swab and some soothing-smelling oil, if you like. Put a drop of oil on the swab and locate the Shen Men spot on your ear — it's smack in the middle of the flat area on the upper part of your ear.

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Start by pressing the point with the swab, then gently massage, all the while breathing deeply. On your inhale, look left, and on your exhale, look right. That's all there is to it!

Dr. Sandomirsky says you can do this anytime you're feeling stressed, or right before bed to help you get a good night's sleep, something which I'm sure we could all use right about now.

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