Acupuncture in Practice: 5 Acupressure Points to Relieve Stress At Home
By Dr. Heather Robinson, BA, ND
Oh, that hot button word. Stress means something different to every person. Technically stress is simply a change. This means that your body (and maybe mind) undergoes stress when there is a change in your job, a change in your finances, a change in your body like getting a cold, hormone shifts and so on. Our bodies don’t know the difference between getting chased by a bear and getting an unexpected bill. We’re smart, but not that smart.
When I speak to patients, I find there are typically 2 ways stress can manifest; often both are happening but people’s attentions are focused on one. They are mental stress and physical stress. When I say mental stress, I mean stress that people are fully aware of, which can lead to symptoms of anxiety.
“I have to get the kids up, feed them, shower, drive them to daycare, go to work, go to my appointment, pick them up, get dinner ready, wash them, prepare for tomorrow, do the laundry...”.
That stressed me out even writing it. It’s the feeling of overwhelm and lack of control over circumstance.
The other form is physical stress which means there are symptoms of stress in the body like heart palpitations, trouble sleeping, issues with energy stability, constipation/diarrhea and even hormonal disturbance. A lot of the time these people will say, “No, I don’t really feel stressed”, which may be true, but their body is telling us a different story.
So, how do we address these in practice? As you may know, Naturopathic Doctors have a massive toolbox; we can use herbs, nutritional therapy, supplementation, lifestyle and of course, acupuncture. We are trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture, which means we are operating from an entirely different way of looking at the body.
We will assess you by getting you concerns and history but also feel your pulse and look at your tongue to see what patterns we can discern that are going on within you. Click here if you want to know more about how TCM works.
Common Pattern with Stress
Heart Yin Deficiency
People will complain of a busy mind that is hard to turn off, especially at night. They may suffer from heart palpitations, night sweats, trouble relaxing, sweaty palms and feet, and easily startled to name a few. What diagnosis would this apply to in Western medicine? None. But because TCM looks at groupings of symptoms differently and therefore the assessment is different, we can treat that group of symptoms very specifically. With Heart Yin deficiency, points on the body would be located to help nourish yin, clear empty heat and calm the mind. This may not make total sense, but that's okay. See below for acupuncture points that can help you feel less stressed right at home!
Acupressure Points to Relieve Stress That You Can Do At Home
1. Yin Tang: Located directly in between your eyebrows (see picture above). My favourite point to calm the mind (who doesn't need that?).
2. Heart 7 (HE-7): The inside of your wrist at the line between your hand and forearm. Follow your pinky finger down to the wrist and wiggle your pinky finger. The point is on the lateral side of that tendon (see picture). This is the master point or 'Source' point of the Heart channel; it is great to quell anxiety and worry, helping qi flow smoothly through the Heart channel.
3. Heart 6 (HE-6): Find HT7 and move about 1 finger-breadth down towards your elbow. This point is amazing to nourish heart yin which means if you have many of the symptoms listed above in Heart Yin deficieny, this is for you.
4. Pericardium 6 (P-6): 3 finger breadths below the wrist line on the inside of your wrist. Between the two tendons in the middle of the forearm. Another point that is great to calm the mind, but it also helps to alleviate nausea and vomiting. If you tend to get nauseous with stress, this is the one for you!
5. Shen Men: See the image of the ear below. In Chinese, Shen translates to mind. Again, this point is here to calm the mind and a wonderful point to have an Acu-tack (very tiny needle on a sticker) in for ongoing stress relief.
Acupuncture is typically most effective if done weekly for 6-8 weeks so the effects can persist. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, talk to your Naturopathic Doctor or Chinese Medicine practitioner about what your options are!