Have you ever noticed how relaxing it is when someone massages your ear, especially when your partner does it during intimate moments? Some people can get so relaxed with an ear massage that they can just about fall asleep. The good news is that now there are research studies that back up that feeling of well-being amongst couples when they massage each other’s ear.
When you are under stress and are not able to cope with the stress, you invariably are prone to get anxiety. The first step to decreasing anxiety is to stop your negative thinking about the stressor, as your negative thoughts about the stressor will continue to make you anxious. The anxiety that results from your negative thinking and maladaptive coping skills in reaction to the stressor will result in physical effects of the anxiety, which include increased heart rate, shortness of breath, muscle tension, lump in the throat, and butterflies in the stomach. The fight or flight response induced by the anxiety is responsible for these physical effects of anxiety.
After addressing your negative thoughts, the next step is to remove the physical effects of the anxiety. This is where acupressure comes in. Acupressure is an alternative treatment and is similar to acupuncture, in which life energy flows through meridians. Applying physical pressure to these acupuncture points clears the blockages in these meridians. So acupressure involves stimulation of acupuncture points and meridians without the use of needles. Applying physical pressure to some of these acupuncture points can lead to a reduction of anxiety.
Numerous studies show that auricular acupressure can lead to a reduction of anxiety (Qu et al., 2014; Kao et al., 2012; Mora et al., 2007; Barker et al., 2006; Kober et al., 2003). The ear has a relaxation point, referred by the ancient Chinese as Shenmen, and simply massaging this point can relieve your anxiety. The Shenmen point is located at the bifurcation of the crura of antihelix, or in the center of the upper third of the ear:
(picture from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4030259/figure/f3/)
Try it on yourself by taking your index finger and gently massage it. Better yet, have someone else massage your relaxation point, the Shenmen point. You may find yourself getting more relaxed as evidenced by your breathing slowing down and your breaths getting deeper. You may also notice less muscle tension. You may feel your body unwinding, after previously getting primed and kindled by anxiety.
If this works for you, then massage the Shenmen point every time you have anxiety and not able to cope with stress. You can also massage the Shenmen point every night in bed, before you go to sleep.
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