We’ve all been there. After stockpiling stress and anxiety for days (or weeks or months), we finally reach the end of our fuse. We’re seconds away from blowing and if we don’t find an outlet to release our frustrations, our co-worker, boyfriend or poor dog is going to get an earful just for being in the same room with us.
But before you let stress disrupt your sleep, interfere with digestion and create even more fear about things that probably don’t warrant it, stop the madness by tapping into the power of a 4,000-year-old Eastern treatment: acupuncture. Hey, if it was good enough for the Yellow Emperor of Huángdi, we should all be willing to give it a try.
Acupuncture is uniquely designed to treat stress and anxiety, says Tansy Briggs, doctor of oriental medicine and integrative acupuncture and oriental medicine practitioner.
“In a simplified nutshell, acupuncture can access the regenerative aspect of the cells, and thus the body, to help regulate stress responses and actually help the body to begin to heal and rejuvenate — sort of like getting the best night’s sleep ever in 20 minutes,” Briggs says.
Certain pressure points on the body allow you to access things the body uses to regulate itself, including the systems that cause you to feel stress and anxiety, via the endocrine system, your hormones and a cascade of biochemical responses, Briggs adds. And here’s what’s frightening: There’s a chance that, if you have been experiencing stress for long periods of time, your body may have literally forgotten what it feels like not to have all those hormones and biochemical responses.
So what about getting the benefits at home?
A formal assessment and treatment plan provided by a qualified acupuncturist is the best move, but if you’re in between appointments or feel too much like a ball of anxiety to wait another second for relief, Briggs provides a handful of wisdom, no needles required.
Try this ear massage you never knew you needed
“Start at the top of the ear and work toward the earlobe by taking them in-between the forefinger and thumb — gently but with enough pressure to feel the pinch. Pinch the outer rim of the ears and then work your way into the center of the ears at least three times,” Briggs says. “At the end you will have pressed on the front surface and back surface of the ears. Your ears will feel very ‘hot.’ This will help you to feel more calm, focused and awake. The points you just pinched are correlated to all the areas of the body (the quickest self massage ever!).”
The power of tapping
The following acupressure “tapping” sequence is described by Briggs as a way to help turn off the fight, flight or freeze hormone response in the body. This will help you to relax, relieve anxiety, fright, fear, performance anxiety and insomnia. The sequence should be followed in the exact order Briggs lists.
- Head: Tap the top of your head nine times. Tap right above the middle of the eyebrows on your forehead about nine times, then straight down from there to right below the eyes (on top of the cheek bones) about nine times.
- Nose: Next, tap simultaneously below the nose — in between the nose and the lips and below the lips on the chin — about nine times.
- Collarbone: Tap midway between and below the collarbone on the upper chest nine times. Lower your hands so that they’re placed midway between and below the collarbone on the upper chest and tap this area nine times.
- Sternum (breastbone): Tap midway on the sternum nine times.
- Armpit: Tap midway on the left armpit (only) below the armpit, midway between it and the lower rib, about nine times.
- Fingers: Finally, tap the ends of all your fingers together nine times.
Repeat this sequence three times and feel calm, clear-headed and ready to take on the world. You got this.