Say yes to pressure
Acupressure stimulates the same points as acupuncture, but with fingers instead of needles. Michael Reed Gach, PhD, director of the Acupressure Institute in Berkeley, California, recommends pressing on the following three points:
- The Third Eye, located between the eyebrows, in the indentation where the bridge of the nose meets the forehead.
- The Heavenly Pillar, on the back of the neck slightly below the base of the skull, about half an inch to the left or right of the spine.
- The Heavenly Rejuvenation, half an inch below the top of each shoulder, midway between the base of the neck and the outside of the shoulder blade.
Breathe deeply and apply firm, steady pressure on each point for two to three minutes. The pressure should cause a mild aching sensation, but not pain. Here are some more pressure points to try for stress relief.
Schedule worry time
Some stressors demand immediate attention—a smoke alarm siren or a police car’s whirling red light. But many low-grade stressors can be dealt with at a later time, when it’s more convenient. “File them away in a little mental compartment, or make a note,” Dr. Elkin says, “then deal with them when the time is right. Don’t let them control you.”
Shake it up
Stand or sit, stretch your arms out from your sides, and shake your hands vigorously for about 10 seconds. This exercise loosens the muscles in your neck and upper back; if they’re strained, they can cause a lot of pain. Combine it with a little deep breathing, Dr. Sobel says, and you’ll do yourself twice as much good while still managing stress.