How To Press Acupressure Points: The Reset Button For Anxiety
If I asked you to stimulate your heart, you might skip around or do a little cardio jib so you could feel it pumping. But when it comes to your vagus nerve (the key nerve for emotional processing in the body), you will know you have accessed and activated it by how you breathe. Remember: Reactivity often shows up in shallow, constricted, or confined breathing. As you tone this nerve, you will notice how your body wants to take a deep, long inhale, inflating the sides of your waist, followed by a nice, grounding exhale.
One way to tone this nerve is by pressing acupressure points. Here, I've listed two ways you can use acupressure points to stimulate your vagus nerve and calm your anxiety.
Pressing acupressure points (aka your reset button).
Think of the acupressure points I am about to share with you as your reset button. Over time, as you work with these points, they will take you out of reactivity and back into the present moment, where your emotions are processed. Try it!
- Use the two peace-sign fingers of your dominant hand to press about an inch above your navel.
- Using the same two fingers, now press to the right about an inch directly above your navel, and then to the left about an inch—those are your three acupressure points.
- I have found that people with anxiety are so in their heads that they tend to move fast, so slow down. Let yourself hold each press for a count of two before moving to the next point. Remember, you are communicating with your body, so your body needs you to take it through, step by step, until you get used to it.
I often coach clients to press their reset button when they are over-focusing on their thoughts (following a trigger) or if symptoms of anxiety are announcing themselves. What can happen is, as you slow down, your symptoms are more noticeable. This is not necessarily because you are getting worse but because you were keeping yourself too distracted to even notice. Your body loves when you notice it and attend to it. Be kind and gentle in how you respond. Rather than panic and follow worried or anxious thoughts, redirect yourself by pressing on these points.
The second half of pressing includes connecting the points to areas on the top of your head. (Some professionals also recommend touch points behind your earlobes.)
- With two fingers of your nondominant hand, touch the back of the crown of your head while pressing the three points near your navel with the dominant hand.
- Move the two fingers on the back of your head to the middle of the crown, and continue to press the three points on your abdomen (about an inch above the navel, and about an inch apart; think Pillsbury Doughboy).
- Then bring the fingers on your head closer to your forehead while pressing the three points near your navel.
Think of your fingertips like magnets pulling and moving energy as you intentionally apply them to certain areas. As this occurs, you are directing the electrical current (your emotions) and providing blood flow between your gut and your brain. Remember, pressing pause is not about stopping your reactions; it is about releasing the emotions!
Adapted from Emotional Detox for Anxiety by Sherianna Boyle. Copyright © 2019 by Sherianna Boyle. Used with permission of the publisher, Adams Media, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Inc. All rights reserved.
Sherianna Boyle, MED, CAGS, is a Yarmouth, Massachusetts-based author of eight wellness books including, Emotional Detox for Anxiety. She has a master's of education and a certificate of advanced study, both in psychology, from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
Today, Boyle is a professional speaker, adjunct Psychology Professor, seasoned yoga instructor, and a C.L.E.A.N.S.E. Coach (a method which she founded).