During periods of stress, the human body goes through a lot of changes. The body will release stress hormones, increase its heart rate and pump harder with a stronger contraction, rise its blood pressure, and slow digestion. Many of us live in a chronic state of stress; we put more pressure on our body systems than we realize.
For some, this can lead to unhealthy coping habits – smoking or drinking, for example. Simply being aware of stress is important for reducing it. When you notice tension in your body, try using self-care strategies to reset your system. One such strategy for your self-care toolkit is acupressure.
Research has shown that acupressure can reduce heart rate and improve nervous system function. Performing an acupressure self-care routine can be just the thing to bring attention away from a stressful situation and provide some needed peace.
Acupressure is the application of pressure to specific points on the body. It has been used for thousands of years to provide relief to sore areas and to help our bodies heal. Acupressure uses “acupoints” from traditional Chinese medicine, which are located in areas of the body with a larger number of nerve fibers and are often sore to the touch. Be gentle when massaging these sore areas.
When using acupressure, simply press or massage the acupressure point(s) for about 30 seconds. Use an amount of pressure that feels comfortable without being painful. The next time you experience stress and you notice your heart rate increasing, consider doing these five acupressure points and taking time for yourself. You can use these acupressure points several times a day to reduce chronic stress.
Join Acupuncturist Erika Marie from the Kansas City VAMC for a chance to experience acupressure for stress relief.
Circle of Health
Each of us has the power to impact our well-being. Whole Health offers the skills and support you need to make the changes you want. The Circle of Health can get you started with self-care resources to live a happier life: https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTH/circle-of-health/index.asp
Juli Olson, DACM, DC is the national lead, Acupuncture, for VHA’s Integrative Health Coordinating Center.