Acupuncturists Pick: Best DIY Acupuncture Points for Lowering Stress, Part II
By Sara Calabro
This is part two of a series on acupuncture points for reducing stress.
Then, check out the remaining 11 points below. They are all located on the head!
11 More Acupuncture Points for Stress
The following 11 acupuncture points, recommended by acupuncturists who use them on a regular basis, can help you calm down in stressful situations.
“The first time someone used this point on me, it felt as if a cool trail of water was running down the inside of my cheek,” says Marisa Fanelli, an acupuncturist in Wayland, MA. “All of the tension in that area just drained away.
“Without realizing it, we often hold tension in our face and jaw when we’re stressed. It isn’t until we feel the stress melt away that we notice how relaxed our faces can be. Stomach 6 (pictured at right) dissolves all the pent-up strain in the face muscles. It’s such a vivid sensation.”
Gall Bladder 8
“Gall Bladder 8 (pictured at right) reduces stress and opens up the mind,” says Los Angeles acupuncturist Sarah Nargiso. “When under stress, we’re unable to think clearly, which further perpetuates the stressed-out, overwhelmed, and out-of-control feeling.
“Gall Bladder 8 can be sensitive when you apply significant pressure, but it’s really effective when you’re feeling over loaded. Combining it with basic breathing techniques can relax, refresh, and rejuvenate the brain quickly so that you’re able to see clearly through the mental haze of stress.”
“This is a secret point you won’t find in many textbooks,” says Justin Burkett, an acupuncturist in San Diego. It is actually two points that are very close together. The first point is at the center of the external occipital protruberance and the second is less than one inch above (see picture at right). When I do the point, I needle it from the second point down toward the first. When you do it yourself with acupressure, apply pressure in that same downward direction.
“This non-standard point is absolutely phenomenal for stress,” says Burkett. “The occiput is an anchoring site for the fascial wrapping of the skull. Most humans carry stress in their neck and shoulders. Needling or applying acupressure to this point seems to affect all of the musculature in this area. It induces a kind of liquid-flowing sensation around and inside the head. There is a near-instant clearing of the mind, and relaxing of the neck, back, and shoulders. A sense of deep calm spreads throughout the entire body and mind.”
“Anmian (pictured at right) is a great point for stress reduction, restlessness, agitation, palpitations, and nagging tension headaches,” says British acupuncturist Lorna Jackson, who practices in the Channel Islands, U.K. “The English translation for the point is ‘peaceful sleep,’ and indeed, it’s an effective alternative to counting sheep during those stressful, ‘what have I forgotten?’ hours when you can’t fall asleep.
“I tell patients to clasp their hands behind the base of the head so that the neck and head is supported. Place your thumbs over Anmian on both sides and lift the base of the skull gently via these points. It is a great pressure release, particularly for people whose stress shows up as tension headaches.”
“When we’re under long-term stress, our bodies are constantly ‘on,'” explains Seattle acupuncturist Heidi Holmquist. “We need to be reset occasionally in order to shift from a sympathetic (fight-or-flight) to parasympathetic (rest-and-digest) state.
“I have found that Point Zero (pictured at right) helps my patients achieve deep relaxation, by helping their bodies shift toward physiological balance. Each patient deserves a unique point recipe for relieving what ails them, but time and time again I find myself coming back to Point Zero to help people turn the switch to ‘off.'”
Montpelier, VT-based Kerry Jenni, one of the first acupuncturists to practice aboard a cruise ship, found her favorite stress-reducing acupuncture point while at sea.
“I was in a unique situation where I was only seeing these patients for one, maybe two treatments over one to two weeks on the ship,” says Jenni. “I knew I had to make a great first impression so the cruisers would go home and find local acupuncturists to continue their care.
“My go-to point was one in the ear called Shen Men (pictured above). No matter if I was treating back pain or sea sickness, when I added Shen Men to my treatments, stress reduction was almost guaranteed.”
Triple Combo: Yin Tang, Bladder 2, Triple Heater 23
“In high-stress patients who suffer from an inability to calm their minds—they have lots of mental chatter going on—I use a combination of points across the eyebrow area,” says Dani Foster, a Canadian acupuncturist in Surrey, British Columbia.
“When I needle Yin Tang, Bladder 2, and Triple Heater 23 (pictured at right) on both sides, my patients often comment that they ‘melt into the table.'”
Governing Vessel 24
“One of my favorite acupuncture points to calm the mind and lower stress is Governing Vessel 24 (pictured at right),” says Diane Lowry, an acupuncturist in Glen Allen, VA. “Like several other Governing Vessel points, GV24 has a close relationship to the brain and the heart. When it is stimulated, it produces a profound sense of calmness. The benefits of this point can be awakened through acupuncture needling as well as acupressure or qigong.”
Christine Smyth, who practices acupuncture on the Isle of Wight in England, adds, “I always know that I’ve found the exact location of Governing Vessel 24 when the patient falls asleep. When the needle is removed, often the patient releases an involuntary sigh! It works every time as a stress reliever.”
Patients who visit Naomi Frank, an acupuncturist in Toronto, call Govering Vessel 24 “the vacation point.” She says, “Sometimes I use this point in combination with others, but if stress reduction is what I’m after, it is really great on its own.”
Governing Vessel 20
“I use Govering Vessel 20 (pictured at right) on almost every patient,” says acupuncturist Rachel Coleiro, who practices in Mont Albert, Victoria, in Australia. “Everyone I see in my practice seems to have at least a small amount of stress happening in their lives—and this point is a must-have for anyone being treated for stress.
“Times when I haven’t used Governing Vessel 20, patients have come back saying they didn’t feel as good after their treatment. Many people feel instantly relaxed upon receiving Governing Vessel 20. I now get requests to needle this point!”
Learn more about Governing Vessel 20 and its exact location here.
Acupuncture points affect everyone differently. Most likely, you will not notice results from all of these points.
Try them all out—don’t forget the points from part one of this article—and see which ones work best for you. Once you figure it out, you’ve got your stress-lowering prescription!
Photos by Sara Calabro
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