Stressed? Try This Easy 9-Minute Acupressure Exercise (Video)

Targets acupuncture points without any needles

Mature woman with head pain, side view, close-up

If you feel stressed or anxious, here’s a remedy you may not have considered before: acupressure. 

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Many of us are familiar with the concept of acupuncture, the ancient Chinese method of healthcare involving thin needles, which are inserted into various points in the body to treat or prevent illness. But far fewer have heard of acupressure, a complementary treatment to acupuncture. But it doesn’t involve any needles.

Both acupuncture and acupressure rely on stimulating hundreds of “acu-points” along the body’s 14 meridians, or energy-carrying channels. People use them as an adjunct to traditional medicine or seek out these therapies if medication doesn’t work. They can be used to treat stress and anxiety, migraines, allergies, nausea, vomiting, pain and more.

You can do acupressure yourself, at home or work. You simply apply pressure with the fingers or another small object to the same points targeted through acupuncture.

Acupressure for stress

If it’s stress you are dealing with, using acupressure only takes about nine minutes.

The video below shows exactly where to press with a simple demonstration.There are three points you will press on, one on your wrist, forehead and sternum or breast bone. You should spend about three minutes holding each point.

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Acupuncture is more effective and long-lasting, but I often teach my patients acupressure to help them self-treat at home between appointments. Different ailments or symptoms require pressure to be placed on different areas of the body. It’s safe, easy and effective.

Be cautious

It’s one thing to read about where the pressure points are, but it’s a whole different story when a professional shows you. You need to feel exactly where and how strong the pressure should be.

Acupressure can be like a “recipe,” where stimulating a combination of points can be most effective — also techniques are best learned from a licensed acupuncturist.

I also often send patients home with products like ear seeds” that help with acupressure at home — tiny adhesive beads placed on the acu-points of the ear.

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Proven effective

There are plenty of myths about acupuncture and acupressure, but the science is on the side of this ancient technique.

For example, researchers have found that acupuncture was as effective as mental health counseling in the treatment of moderate to severe depression. Other studies show its usefulness in treating anxiety.

It makes people feel like they are taking control of their own health. It’s empowering to know that you’re doing something that will ease your symptoms.

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Jamie Starkey, LAc

Jamie Starkey is Lead Acupuncturist at the Cleveland Clinic's Center for Integrative Medicine, where she bridges the worlds of Eastern and Western medical philosophy.