Try this fantastic DIY acupressure massage therapy for stress and anxiety.
This is the fourth newsletter in an ongoing series that will help you alleviate various aches and pains with D.I.Y. massage. We, at Katoka Massage Therapy know that aches and pains can really take away from your abilities and overall happiness. We’re here to help you access some relief without having to leave the comforts and safety of your home.
Missed November’s Massage Therapy DIY What Does Numbness in the Hands and Fingertips Mean? Read it here.
When stress and anxiety Attack
Most people claim to have experienced stress and/or anxiety at some point in their life. In fact, some stress can actually be useful. When there is a healthy amount of pressure to perform well, people often feel motivated to succeed.
With a big race approaching, a marathon runner will feel the pressure to perform their best, in turn, they are driven to train in order to be prepared for the big day. This type of stress is not to be confused with the kind that creeps up on us and drags down our energies. Unfortunately, we might be feeling this negative stress a lot these days.
The fear and uncertainty of COVID and all its effects is no light matter. It’s understandable that anxieties might have crept up on us and into our lives more than usual. Even taking COVID out of the equation, life naturally has its ups and downs. To put it plainly, everyone is at risk of stress and anxiety and there are, of course, different levels of severity. There are actions to take however to help us alleviate the symptoms of stress and anxiety, helping to induce a more relaxed state of mind.
What is the Difference Between Stress and Anxiety?
On the surface both might seem very similar to each other, as they are both emotional responses and can have similar effects on our minds and bodies. Yet there are fundamental differences between stress and anxiety. Stress is typically triggered by an external factor.
This can be a recent or present factor like an approaching deadline or something more long-term like a strained relationship. Anxiety is more so defined by excessive and persistent worries that don’t go away even if there is no stressor. Stress itself can actually be a trigger for anxiety.
Good to Read: Try These Quick and Easy Stress Management Tips
If the stress and/or anxiety is minor, there are many management techniques that can be incorporated into one’s everyday lifestyle. That’s not to mention the massage therapy techniques that we will cover a little further down! If you are experiencing more severe stress and/or anxiety or find that it is starting to really affect your day-to-day functioning and mood, talking with a mental health professional is a positive and helpful additional avenue to be explored.
How Stress and Anxiety Affect the Body & Brain
Can anxiety make you feel sick? The straightforward answer is most definitely yes!
Stress and anxiety share many symptoms:
Headaches and Dizziness
Chest Pain or Increased Heart Rate
Muscle Tension or Pain
Stomach Pains or Problems
Feeling Tense or Nervous
Inability to Relax
Loss of Sleep or Oversleeping
To put it lightly, anxiety and stress play major roles in our physical, mental, and emotional health! It also will affect individual people differently.
Where Does Anxiety Stem From?
Anxiety increases your breathing and heart rate. This in turn concentrates your blood flow to your brain, since your body is preparing you to face an intense situation. If things start getting too intense, you can easily start feeling lightheaded and nauseous.
Because this is such a physical reaction, having consistent states of anxiety can take a large toll on both your physical and mental health. Long-term anxiety and the panic attacks that often come as a result of it, cause your brain to regularly release stress hormones.
Your brain is flooding your system with chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol, which when used sparingly, help you respond to threats. However, with long-term exposure, these chemicals have an adverse effect. Your body is prompted to have frequent symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and even depression.
Massage Therapy to the Rescue!
Acupressure massage therapy is an easy and effective treatment for when you begin to feel stress and anxiety creeping in! Try stimulating the following acupressure points for some at-home anxiety and stress reduction:
Third Eye Point / Seal Hall or Yin Tang - EX-2
This point is located in the centre of your forehead between your eyebrows. Sit back in a comfortable position and close your eyes. With either your thumb or index finger, apply gentle pressure in a circular motion. Stimulate this point as needed.
GOVERNING VESSEL (DU MAI) One Hundred Meeting Point or Bai Hui - GV20 (DU20)
Find this acupressure point by locating the exact centre on the top of your head. Gently massage this point, working your way up to longer massages. This point also helps to alleviate dizziness, headache and clenched jaw.
Heavenly Gate Point or Shen Men
Find the top cartilages of your ear and then slide your finger down into the triangle-like hollow just below. The tip of that hollow is your heavenly gate point. Apply firm but gentle pressure in a circular motion for about two minutes.
Shoulder Well Point or Jian jing - GB21
This point is located in each shoulder muscle on either side of your neck. To find it, pinch your shoulder muscle with your middle finger and thumb. Apply gently, firm pressure before releasing the pinch and massaging the point.
*Do not use this point if you are pregnant, as it can induce labor.
Great Abyss or Tai yuan - LU9
Turn your hand palm up and slightly spread your fingers. At the side of the wrist nearest the thumb, you should see a slight indent near the edge of the wrist. Gently massage this point in a slow, circular motion for about a minute before repeating on the other wrist. Stimulating this point helps to relieve some physical signs of anxiety such as heart palpitations.
Anxiety and Stress Reduction Techniques
Never take for granted your mental well-being and work to improve it every day! Try incorporating the following into your day-to-day life to help you get the most out of life and increase your positive energies.
Foster Good Relationships:
The people you surround yourself with are important and making connections, in general, is good for your mental wellbeing. Within healthy relationships, you are able to share positive experiences, provide emotional support, and receive support and love from others. - Set aside family or friend time - Plan a day out or a video call with someone you care about but maybe haven’t seen in a while - Try switching off the TV or games to talk with your kids or family (a phone call counts too!)
Be Kind!: Acts of kindness affect us in the best of ways. You feel a positive sense of reward from giving to or supporting others. Your self-worth increases and good connections are created. The best part is that being kind comes in all shapes and sizes.
- Say thank you to someone, anyone! - Go out of your way to surprise someone with a small gift or gesture - Ask your family and friends how they are and really listen to their answers - Volunteer in your community if you can
Learn Something New: Your brain likes being kept active, plus it’s a great way to build a new sense of purpose and boost your self-esteem. Start small!
- Cook something new - Work on a DIY project. This could even be a project that needs to be get done around the house that your would typically hire out for. - Check out a tutorial on Youtube for some inspiration and guidance!
Be Active: I know this one is a broken record, but your body was made to move! Be physical causes chemical changes in your mood, helping to positively influence you.
- Try an at-home workout routine - Go for walks in your neighbourhood - Be more conscious of the times you are sitting for long periods of time and either take a quick walking break or march on the spot!
“Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.” - Jon Kabat-Zinn
Newsletter by: Renée Schweizercan
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