Having anxiety can be a debilitating experience, it can come on out of nowhere, but even when we have awareness of the triggers, it can still catch us off guard, stop us in our tracks and really put a halt to anything we wanted to do. Having tools and coping mechanisms to help guide us through an anxiety or panic attack can be crucial to our ability to feel like we can release the anxiety and live our lives. While medications can be extremely helpful, they also come with side effects and can cause considerable drowsiness which isn’t always desirable. I’ve found acupuncture treatments on a regular basis to be particularly powerful for helping my patients move through anxiety, stress and other tough emotions. But if you aren’t near your Acupuncturist’s office the following acupressure points can help you become more grounded, present and calm in a matter of minutes.
I recommend you go through all of the points mentioned here, treat one side then the other and use the treatment time as a time to slow down, to gather your thoughts and release them as you move through the protocol. You may notice you start yawning, or your eyes water, maybe even cry a bit - these are all good signs that your body is releasing that energy and emotion which will allow you to carry on in a more calm space when you are finished.
Kidney 1 - Bubbling Spring
Kidney 1 is one of the best points for grounding. Located at the bottom of the foot in the indentation created where the ball of the foot meets the body of the foot between the 1st and 2nd metatarsals. If you’re feeling ‘out of your body,’ not very present or really in your mind, this point is a go to. As you press and hold this point, visualize your energy being drawn back down into your body, legs and feet, you may even visualize that energy sinking into the earth. This point is the lowest point on the body, so it has a particularly grounding effect simply by its inherent connection with the earth while our feet are on the ground. It can help us clear our mind, and be more present with whatever is at hand. This point helps us connect to our inner wisdom and clarity, like the freshwater of a bubbling spring is clear and new, this point gives us connection to that clear vision and wisdom we hold within.
Liver 3 - Great Rushing
In Chinese five element theory, the wood element is the generating element or ‘mother’ of the fire element. The emotion of wood is anger and the emotion of fire is joy and anxiety. We often experience anxiety because of unexpressed anger. In this case anger may not be full out rage, but can also be assertive communication and boundary setting, so if we have recently experienced an instance where we failed to assertively communicate our needs or didn’t properly set or hold a boundary that was important to us, it can actually create anxiety later on. Sometimes getting up and moving around in a primal type of way - grunting, punching a pillow, can be very helpful to relieve anxiety because it can move that unexpressed anger from our body. Liver 3 is an excellent point for helping with this facet of anxiety, it helps us to release and move anger and our qi, energy in the body getting it to flow smoothly again. This point can also help with depression, resentment and frustration. Liver 3 is located on the opposite side of the foot from Kidney 1, in the slight depression between the big toe and second toe, you can pinch from the bottom of the foot at Kidney 1 to the top of the foot at Liver 3 to stimulate both points at the same time.
Yin Tang - Hall of Impressions
Located directly between the eyebrows at the center of the forehead, some people associate this point with our clairvoyance, 3rd eye or 6th chakra, however it’s much more than that - it’s an access point to how we view ourselves and the world. Stimulation of this point is often extremely relaxing, it reduces anxiety, calms the spirit and helps us to see clearly both literally and intuitively. This point activates profound presence and centeredness in the receiver. It’s an excellent choice while experiencing anxiety, we can stimulate it by rubbing it gently in a circular motion or by tapping the point. We say this point calms the spirit or the Shen, Shen is an aspect of our spiritual makeup, in Taoism we have 5 spirits and the Shen is one of them, it’s the aspect of our spirit most like the western version of the spirit or soul. But the Shen is easily disturbed or frightened, any type of emotional upset or trauma, even so small as getting a nasty text from your ex, can disturb the Shen. To call the Shen home we need to create an environment of calmness for the Shen to return to, Yin Tang is an excellent choice to help us become centered, present and relaxed again.
Pericardium 8 - Palace of Weariness
Make a loose fist and the location your ring finger touches down to is the location of Pericardium 8 on the palm of the hand. In Chinese medicine every organ system has a job, we use the metaphor of a well running kingdom to help explain what each system does, the Pericardium is like the Heart’s (the Emperor’s) right hand and body guard, the Pericardium is all about how we choose to let people, ideas, thoughts, beliefs, concepts and energy into our system, or keep it out. The Palace of Weariness is like a secret hiding place that the Emperor has to go to when he feels overwhelmed, defeated, or like he needs a break from running the kingdom to really feel into his emotions and experience. We can’t process and release emotions without actually feeling them, and the Palace of Weariness is a safe place we can go to do so. This point helps us to feel safe, to feel calm, and to allow us to feel what we are feeling without shame or judgment, we can just simply be with whatever is arising. We can activate these points by putting our hand in a prayer position and rubbing them together in a circular motion making sure that area we initially located is the main point of contact.
The ear is full of acupuncture points, and nerve endings. It is virtually impossible to stimulate a single acupuncture point in the ear with just our fingers, so to stimulate the ear points instead of picking one point we can simply just address them all. The Vagus nerve, Temporal, Occipital and Great Auricular nerves all end in the ear, so it’s a hot spot of activity. Simply rub your ears between your fingers to stimulate the acupuncture points and associated nerves. The vagus nerve has been gaining popularity for its role in trauma, somatic pain and memory and our emotional health. If we have physical reactions to emotional stimuli, the vagus nerve is likely involved in some way - especially digestive upset connected with stress and anxiety.
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For those local to the North Bay - Marin County, San Rafael, California, Dr. Kim Peirano, DACM, LAc is seeing patients for in person sessions. Acupuncture treatment for anxiety and other mental and emotional wellness concerns includes a full intake and evaluation and specialized treatment which may include herbs and supplements as needed. Dr. Kim also practices NET - Neuro-Emotional Technique, a unique healing modality that can help dislodge stored memory and trauma from the body, in combination with acupuncture treatment the results can be quite powerful.
For those not local to the area, Dr. Kim offers telehealth virtual visits and coaching. Shadow work coaching includes an intake and intention setting along with accessible tools and meditations to help you work through trigger responses that are keeping you stuck and held back from being your most authentic, divine self in the world.
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Dr. Kim Peirano, DACM, LAc is the Owner and Acupuncturist at Lion's Heart Wellness, the San Francisco Bay Area and Marin's #1 Cosmetic Acupuncturist and #1 Holistic Healer.
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