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A few days ago, I talked with a mother of a 7-year-old boy who has experienced a great deal of anxiety in situations that are new: places, people, scenarios.

This mom told me that what has really helped him cope better is the simple — yet not always easy — act of deep breathing.  She was shocked to learn that indeed, her son didn’t know how to breathe deeply.  His breath was extremely shallow.

Here is how she has helped him to learn to breathe more deeply.

  • He lies down, and she places a book on his tummy — right on top of the bellybutton is a good marker.
  • He is encouraged to take a breath that’s deep enough (to fills the belly) and make the book go up.
  • This mom also used her hand, instead of a book. She placed her hand firmly on her son’s tummy so that he felt the resistance and could breath into her hand.  This is probably a great step to take when deep breathing is difficult to attain at first.

The new school year has started, and this deep breathing has helped a 7-year-old make that transition with greater comfort.

How could it help you or a child or adult you know?  You can do this yourself, either lying down, or sitting up or standing, with your hand on your belly.

Name: Great Surge (Liver 3)

This point is on the top of your foot and helps address fatigue, headaches, insomnia related to “busy mind”, hangovers, eye issues (swelling, pain) and alleviates pain. It’s also helpful in energizing.  Some people feel a “great surge” of energy move from their feet, up their legs and bodies; hence the name.

Location: This point is on the top of your foot, in the “valley” at the point where your big toe and second toe bones meet, above the arch of your foot.  See where the dot is on the photo below.  (If you’re familiar with the Hoku point on the hand, you can think of this as the similar point on your foot.)
liverTop
As with all acupressure points except the ones that run down the center of your body, this point is bilateral, which means it’s found on both feet.

To hold: There are several ways you can do this.  It’s important that you are comfortable in your shoulders and arms, so experiment with different ways to hold the point, and see what is most comfortable.

You can sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground, and bend down to reach the top of your foot with your index or middle finger.  Firmly press on the point with a steady pressure.  Hold first for 10 seconds or so, and then work up to a minute as long as it is comfortable.  As with holding all acupressure points, take deep slow breaths as you hold the point.

I find that it can be easier to hold this point by “sandwiching” it between one finger to top of my foot, and another underneath.  See the photos below where I use my thumb on top in one case; the index finger on top in another.

liver32    liver3 3

Often, this point can be tender; if it is, release the pressure if it is too uncomfortable.  This point, too, can take a lot of pressure, so experiment with different degrees of pressure. 

You are encouraged you to seek the advice of a qualified health care provider for questions about a medical condition.

Feeling jittery? Heart palpitations? Certain thyroid conditions can bring about these kinds of symptoms.

There are a bunch of points around your wrist, including one that helps with palpitations. One easy way to get those is to wrap one hand around the wrist of the other hand.

  • A comfortable way to do this is to sit in a chair, feet flat on the floor.
  • Rest one hand on your lap, palm up.
  • With your other hand, wrap your fingers around your wrist so your thumb touches other other fingers lightly. You don’t need to hold tight, but the goal is to have some light contact around your wrist.

As with all acu-point holding, it helps to take slow breaths while you hold the points. I like to close my eyes.

Jet lag, uncomfortable hotel beds, hauling around luggage…these are just some of the things we deal with when traveling. Here are some tips for wellness on the road. We’ll cover these and others in the next wellness class, “Travel Better with Acupressure” at Elephant Pharmacy.

Stay Hydrated

Did you know that air on airplanes is dryer than the desert? To improve your experience during and after your flight, drink water before, during and after; one glass per hour. Also, soak in water–a bath, pool, the ocean–as soon as you can after the flight. I took a nice hot bath after a 16-hour journey; I think it helped since I didn’t experience jet lag! Read more tips here.

Acu Point: Inner Gate

This point can help quell a queasy stomach on a turbulent flight or taxi-ride, as well as help relieve insomnia that might be related to feelings of anxiousness. It’s on the inner forearm and easy to hold wherever you are. Read on to learn more about the point.

Grounding Through Routine

When we travel, by definition we are away from home. This can be fun and exciting, but it can also be disconcerting to be away from the grounding foundation of home-base. In Chinese Medicine, routine is associated with the Earth element and the idea of “home”. So next time you travel, consider if there’s part of your home routine that you might take with you–whether it’s your daily morning walk, afternoon coffee break, or bedtime reading.

Name: Inner Gate (Pericardium 6)

This point can be effective for relieving nausea and anxiety. You may be familiar with it because it’s the point used by those motion sickness wrist bands, which are also helpful foP6_pointr women experiencing nausea during pregnancy.

Location: On the inner forearm, about three fingers’ width from the wrist crease.

To hold: Gently cradle your wrist on the palm of the other hand, and lightly press the point with your thumb. You can experiment with the pressure, but a light pressure is usually effective.

P6demoBe sure to relax both arms and shoulders; you can place your hands on a table or your lap to be comfortable. Hold for 30 seconds or so initially, to see how it feels for you. For some people, the feeling of relief is immediate. For others, it can take a while; try 5 minutes. Release gently if you feel any acute pain.

Boy, was I thankful for having learned to be a better breather when I was under the dentist’s drill, the other day.  I felt some pain, but mostly fear and anxiety about this new experience of getting a filling.

Whenever I teach a class on acupressure,  I tell my students, “Your breath is your friend.”  So when you hold a point, take a few deep breaths.  Even if you’re not holding a point, take a few deep breaths.  Deep breaths help with relaxation.

And what I learned on the dentist’s chair is that I was able to access my calming breath, because I had done it before, in many ways.  Practicing acupressure points; giving wellness sessions; receiving bodywork; meditating; in my yoga practice.  So, hooray for all that attention to breath.