Long ago, when your hunter-gatherer ancestors came across a bear in the woods, they experienced what is now called stress: elevated heart rate, quick breathing, and tense muscles. This response quickened their reflexes, spurring them to fight or run—which would not only potentially save their lives, but also process the stress response out of their systems.
Unfortunately, these days, you can’t fist fight rush-hour traffic or run from a demeaning boss, so the stress response can become trapped in your body and turn chronic. Stress can manifest as a variety of symptoms—tension headaches or a sore back—or, if chronic, can contribute to conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
Stress is no joke, and since you don’t have as many opportunities to leap into fight or flight and process stress as your ancestors did, it’s important to have a stress-management plan. In addition to typical exercise, deep breathing, and meditation strategies, consider acupressure—a self-administered therapy that has shown in research to effectively decrease stress. You can start with these eight acupressure points—and it’s best to check with your physician or health care provider before you begin.
How Acupressure Works
Acupressure can help activate your body’s self-healing mechanisms—the release of endorphins and increased blood flow. It stimulates the same points that are used in acupuncture—with massage-like pressure rather than needles.
Stress-Reducing Point Locations
Acupressure points can be located by anatomical landmarks—either muscle groups or bony structures. Some of them are located by a measurement called “cun,” which is approximately the width of your thumb.