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Study Finds Ocean Views are Linked to Better Mental Health

Do you currently live in a home with a view of the ocean? Can you hear the waves rolling in and smell the salt air as you have dinner on the balcony? If so, the rest of us envy you. As it turns out that perfect home with an ocean view could have even more benefits than the obvious. It could be beneficial to your mental health.

A recent study has shown that living in a home with a view of the ocean could have significant benefits of reducing stress and improving overall mental health. That’s right; as if that perfect beach home you dream of wasn’t perfect enough already, it could even help your sanity.

“Increased views of blue space is significantly associated with lower levels of psychological distress,” says one of the authors of the study.

The research study was performed by a group at Michigan State University and found some relatively surprising results. It was co-authored by Amber L. Pearson, an assistant professor at the university whose main focus is social justice and understanding the “unexpected tenacity, adaptability and resilience of the underprivileged.”

Her area of focus may seem surprising enough, considering the fact that ocean views are normally only affordable to ocean viewsthe very upper-class. However, that was part of the point of the investigation. Professor Pearson seeks to understand the aspects of the built, physical and social environment that bolster health in the face of adversity. She has worked specifically in the realm of water research and to understand the intersection of spatial and social dimensions of health as they relate to water access.

“We live in increasingly urbanized areas which limit our exposure to natural spaces and this could lead to more depression and mental health issues – one of the top causes of disease worldwide – so identifying factors within cities which relate to positive mental health is important,” says Professor Pearson.

Much of her research on this topic has been performed in wealthier areas, and this one was no different. In this study, she and other researchers used various topography data and studied the visibility of blue and green spaces in Wellington, New Zealand. New Zealand is statistically one of the wealthier nations of the world, and performing the study there provided specific advantages.

“We used the capital city of New Zealand – Wellington to examine the relationship between mental health and the visibility of natural spaces, including blue space or water bodies and green space or parks and vegetated areas.”

The term “blue space” refers to areas with visibility of natural bodies of water, such as the ocean of sea. “Green space,” on the other hand, is what it sounds like. It refers to grassy or forested areas. The study was published in the May issue of the academic journal Health & Place, an interdisciplinary journal dedicated to all aspects of health in which place and location matter. According to Michigan State, it is the first to find a true link between health and the visibility of natural bodies of water.

The urban capital of Wellington provided the researchers with the ability to study several different types of locations. It is surrounded by the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. These were the blue spaces in the study. The green spaces were surrounding forests or grassy park areas.

The goal was to find out how access to these views could impact one’s mental health, if at all. As global urbanization escalates, some urban neighborhood features could improve mental and even physical health. If this is true, the placement of housing in these areas could have a growing level of importance.

“We developed a geospatial technique to quantify visual exposure to blue and green spaces for residential locations across the entire city,” says Professor Pearson. “Then, using the New Zealand Health Survey Data, we linked mental health data for the respondents to blue space visibility, based on where they lived.”

The data to which Professor Pearson is referring is provided by a national organization designed specifically for this purpose. The New Zealand Health Survey (NZHS) provides information about the health and overall well-being of people living in New Zealand. In 2011, the NZHS became a continuous survey, enabling the publication of annual updates on the health of New Zealanders and providing useful statistical data for studies such as this one.

The researchers also used the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, also known as the K10, as the main instruments in testing respondents. It is a ten item questionnaire intended to yield a global measure of distress based on questions about stress and depressive symptoms that a person has experienced in a 30-day period. It asks how often the participant has felt certain emotions such as sadness, anxiety, depression and others as a predictor for anxiety and mood disorders.

Participants are asked to rate the frequency of these emotions on a scale of one to five, ranging from “None of the time” to “All of the time.” The use of this type of self-report measure is generally viewed as a desirable method of assessment because it is a genuine attempt on the part of the clinician to collect information on the subject’s current condition and establish a productive dialogue. The K10 has been proven, through the use in multiple reputable studies, to be an accurate predictor of possible mental health problems.

Using a cross-sectional survey of adults and the application of novel geospatial techniques, this study investigated whether increased visibility of nature could be related to lower stress levels. The researchers also factored in other socioeconomic factors which they believed could skew the results of the study.

“We found that higher levels of blue space visibility were associated with decreased psychological distress, regardless of other factors such as age, sex and income,” says Professor Pearson. They also factored in things such as neighborhood population density, housing quality, crime and deprivation. The results seemed relatively conclusive that a view of the ocean played a large role an individual’s stress level and overall mood.

“We do not know whether our findings would hold true in other settings,” Professor Pearson added. “The blue space in Wellington is almost completely oceanic. When one sees the ocean, other senses are experienced including sound and smell. So similar studies evaluating the relationship for fresh water would be beneficial.”

While this does not mean that you should give up on hopes of buying that lake house in exchange for a condo on the beach, it does show that other factors could be at play. The ocean is pleasing to our senses in many ways other than just the beauty of the waves. However, the results do still show a defined difference in the moods of those with an ocean view compared to those without.

The researchers did not find similar results in the cases of views to green spaces such as forested areas or grassy parks. In fact, the research shows little to no difference in the moods of people with these views when compared to other, more urbanized areas. However, Professor Pearson admits that there could be additional factors that influenced this aspect of the study as well.

“It could be because the blue space was all natural, while the green space included human-made areas, such as sports fields and playgrounds, as well as natural areas such as native forests,” Pearson said. “Perhaps if we only looked at native forests we might find something different.”

While further research would be needed to determine a comparison between natural areas and those that are man-made, it does still show a direct correlation between a house by the sea and one’s overall mood. We know, this doesn’t exactly come as news to most people, but it could have serious implications in other aspects of society. Professor Pearson is, first and foremost, a health geographer with a focus on social justice and understanding how geography relates to social issues.

“If other studies confirm our findings, there may be urban planning implications,” says Pearson. “It would be important that residential views of blue space not be limited to those that can afford them, in order to limit inequalities in mental health between the rich and the poor.”

Like many other wealthy nations, New Zealand is highly urbanized. This means that effective city planning is becoming increasingly important there. If this study can get more attention and research into these topics can gain momentum, it could have a large impact in the United States and around the world.

If further research confirm Professor Pearson’s findings, it could change the way city planners think about where they place residential areas. When taking into account the mental health of citizens, the geography and topography of further expansion could mean designating a portion of high-rise buildings or affordable homes in locations with ocean views.

Although this is a lot of “if”s, Professor Pearson hopes that her research can be the first step in bringing about more focus on the health of city residents. This could give hope to those outside the upper tiers of society to one day watch the waves roll by through their windows.

Why Adult Coloring Books Are Good For You

There is a growing trend out there that is bringing millions of adults back to the joy of childhood. Adult coloring books appearing in bookstores and other coffee shops around the world, and it has many people taking notice. While it may seem like an interesting hobby or a silly fad to most, others are saying that this could be more important than we think.

Adult coloring books are not just regular old coloring books with more adult-themed pictures. They feature more intricate designs, a wider variety of selections and even higher-quality paper. They are also not the same as the color-by-number books you may have seen. Adult coloring books require high levels of attention and detail, and they can unlock a creative nature in anyone.

Not only could they bring back your inner child, they also provide a wonderful artistic outlet for anyone. Claims have also been made that they can be beneficial for a person’s mental health. There is already a school of thought that creating art can be used as a form of therapy.

Art Therapy

Some therapists are beginning to speak about adult coloring books and their potential as a therapeutic tool. In fact, many have already been using this type of therapy for years. You may have heard of the term “art therapy” before, but most people are unclear about exactly what it is. Just for the record, we got the definition directly from the source.

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is: “a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem.”

That may just sound like regular therapy with some artistic stuff thrown in. Well, it kind of is. The process of art therapy is very similar to the process of therapy that most of us already familiar with. In turn, the benefits are very similar as well.

Adult Coloring Books and Art Therapy

While adult coloring books could be a very useful tool in the process of art therapy, the books without the therapist may not be as useful. As the trend continues to grow, so does the debate about their therapeutic value among therapists.

While many art therapists have come out strongly in support of adult coloring books and their benefits, not everyone agrees. The main dispute seems to be regarding the usefulness of these coloring books as opposed to art therapy as a profession.

The biggest difference is the lack of interaction when one only uses a coloring book without being part of a therapy session. During these sessions, a trained therapist may use them as a tool to help the patient’s growth. However, without the therapist, many believe the benefits are greatly diminished.

Drena Fagen, an art therapist and instructor at New York University’s Steihardt School spoke exactly to this sentiment in a recent interview, saying “I don’t consider the coloring books as art therapy; I consider the coloring books therapeutic, which is not the same thing.”

Although the art therapy community may disagree on the new trend of adult coloring books and how it relates to their profession, that does not mean they are not helpful. You may not be able to cure all your mental ailments with colored pencils, but there are many clear benefits of using adult coloring books.

Genesis of Adult Coloring

While the dispute about adult coloring books as a form of therapy continues to grow today, the idea actually goes back decades. Carl Jung, who is viewed as one of the father’s of modern psychology, recommended coloring as early as the 1930s. He would often “prescribe” it to his patients as a method of accessing their sub-conscious and recognizing greater self-knowledge.

The modern adult coloring trend started a bit differently. Although adult coloring books have been available as a niche market for hobbies since 2012, the recent trend seems to have begun in the usual modern fashion: as a marketing campaign.adult coloring book

Beloved crayon manufacturer Crayola recently began creating and releasing coloring books for adults, and the idea took off. It has been so successful that they now have an entire line of adult colored pencils, markers and coloring books called Crayola Escapes.

Benefits of Coloring for Grown-ups

Although you may not be creating a masterpiece, coloring can unlock many benefits in even the least artistic among us. A few of these benefits include:

  • Helping relieve stress and anxiety levels
  • Releasing and expelling negative thoughts
  • Helping your brain to enter a meditative state
  • Helping achieve mindfulness by keeping you in the present
  • Bringing you back to a simpler time in life
  • Unlocking a level of creativity that you did not know was there

Some claim that coloring can even be a form of meditation. Coloring does cause many effects that are similar to a meditative state. In creates a sense of great focus that takes one away from all the thoughts and worries of the present. This focus is directed at one simple and singular thing that then takes precedence in the mind.

In a recent article about coloring as a form of therapy, neoropsychologist Dr. Stan Rodski said, “Like meditation, coloring allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus on the moment. Tasks with predictable results, such as coloring or knitting, can often be calming.”

Dr. Rodski does have an interest in the field of adult coloring, as he owns his own line of adult coloring books. This would make one skeptical about his beliefs, but he has done extensive scientific research on the topic. In a later interview with the Australian Broadcast Corporation, he spoke about some of his studies.

“The most amazing things occurred — we started seeing changes in heart rate, changes in brainwaves. There are three key elements—repetition, pattern and detail—that prompt positive neurological responses in participants. When you have things that you can predict will happen in a certain way, it’s calming for us.”

Whether he is biased or not, this does make sense.

Coloring in the Treatment of Mental Illness

It has been said that the use of adult coloring books can be helpful in the treatment of many mental health problems. In many instances, lack of focus and structure are key triggers for individuals. The effort, focus and time that it takes to color can help to take the person away from the negative habits and redirect their minds in a more positive direction. This is can be especially helpful in cases of:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Stress disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Anger management
  • Substance abuse issues
  • and many others
Renowned psychiatrist Dr. Nikki Martinez recently wrote an article in the Huffington Post about the usefulness of adult coloring books in the treatment of mental health issues:

“These activities can help tremendously with individuals with PTSD, anxiety, and stress issues, as they calm down our amygdala. This is the part of the brain that controls our fight or flight response, and keeps individuals in a heightened state of worry, panic, and hyper-vigilance, when it is active. Coloring and focusing on this harmless and calming activity can actually turn that response down, and let your brain have some much needed rest and relaxation. This can be an exceptionally productive and welcome outlet for these individuals.”

How Adult Coloring Books Could Benefit Youadult coloring books

Even if you do not suffer from any of the above mental health problems, coloring could still have many benefits. There have been many recent studies showing evidence that coloring can significantly reduce stress and anxiety levels.

This happens because coloring focuses the brain on simple activity. When this occurs, the brain relaxes and we become less aware of our current stresses and problems. It requires a certain repetition and attention to detail that takes us away from all the normal worries of the world.

If nothing else, coloring can take you back to a simpler time in life when all that mattered was cartoons and candy. Reconnecting with the feelings of childhood can be very cathartic and can help relieve a lot of tension and anxiety that can be brought about in the normal, grown-up world. It can also tap old feelings and memories of a times before cell phone and social media.

Similarly to the effect it has on children, coloring can replace negative thoughts with more constructive ones. It takes a lot of focus and concentration to select the right color, stay within the edges and making everything just right. Although it may not seem like a lot, at least you won’t be concentrating on bills and work.

Give it a Shot

The great thing about adult coloring as a form of therapy is the fact that it has no known side-effects. Even if it does not have all of the great benefits we discussed here, at least you will have made a pretty picture.

Sleeping With a Weighted Blanket Could Help Insomnia and Anxiety

Who would have ever suspected that pressure could help you sleep? Well, probably not in the sense that you are thinking. However, recent studies have shown that the pressure caused by weighted blankets could be very helpful in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety and many other health issues.

The importance of a good night’s sleep can easily be overlooked in a modern world that is obsessed with productivity. We all find ourselves wrapped up in our jobs, families and daytime life that we forget how important a productive night of rest can be. Lack of sleep can take a huge toll on our health and our moods, thus hurting our waking lives.

We all know how it feels to miss out on sleep. Worries enter you mind, and it seems as though your brain will not calm down. Then you begin thinking of how poorly you will feel in the morning if you don’t sleep. One thought follows another, and the whole process begins to snowball. Many of us have spent late nights on the internet, researching ways to help us fall asleep.

If that is how you came across this article, we may be able to help. New research provides evidence that sleeping under a weighted blanket at night can help you fall and stay asleep. Although it is no miracle cure, it can be very beneficial for suffers of anxiety and insomnia who are simply looking for anything to help them get through the night peacefully.weighted blanket

The reason this works is due to a process known as deep pressure touch stimulation, or DPTS. DPTS therapy is similar to what occurs during a massage. Deep contact with the skin and muscles creates a relaxing sensation in the brain. Like the comfort an infant feels when swaddled in a thick blanket, we grown-ups can benefit from a weighted blanket.

“Deep touch pressure is the type of surface pressure that is exerted in most types of firm touching, holding, stroking, petting of animals, or swaddling,” says Dr. Temple Grandin. Grandin has done extensive research into the benefits of DPTS and is a pioneer in the field. “Occupational therapists have observed that a very light touch alerts the nervous system, but deep pressure is relaxing and calming.”

Weighted Blankets

A weighted blanket is not just a thick comforter. It is a cover specifically designed to be heavy and create a small amount of pressure. The fabric of the blanket contains plastic polly pellets, usually spread throughout small pockets, that adds weight to the blanket itself. It’s similar to Beanie Babies, except not as cute.

In fact, the creator of Magic Blanket, a leading brand of weighted blankets, first got the idea 15 years ago when his daughter draped a Beanie Baby over his should as he was driving.

“It was a lizard that was long and hugged my shoulder, and felt pretty cool,” says Magic Blanket creator Keith Zivalich. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if you had a blanket that hugged you that way?’”

Weighted blankets were already being used to treat certain pediatric and psychiatric disorders, but normally only in hospital settings. Now Magic Blanket and other household weighted blankets are gaining in popularity. Most of them weigh between 10 and 30 pounds and some can even be adjusted. Now that they are being used more commonly, there are signs that they can be beneficial in the treatment of other health problems.

How it Works

The pressure of a weighted blanket molds to your body like a hug. This pressure not only helps to relax the muscles, but also creates a relaxing sensation in the brain. When this deep pressure is applied, the brain creates serotonin and melatonin.

Serotonin is a chemical in our brain that is closely related to happiness and elevated moods. Many pharmaceutical anti-depressants work by helping the brain’s serotonin receptors. On a smaller scale, the effect of DPTS caused by a weighted blanket will have a similar effect. When we are resting, the serotonin will then be converted to melatonin.

Melatonin is another biochemical agent that is naturally produced in the brain and helps us sleep. You are probably already somewhat familiar with melatonin, as it is the main ingredient in most natural sleep aids.

When the body feels the gentle amount of pressure caused by sleeping under a weighted blanket, pressure points are activated that will naturally notify the brain to create more serotonin and melatonin. This is the basic concept behind deep pressure touch therapy and the main reason it is effective in reducing stress.

This therapy is not only beneficial for insomnia. A study published by Occupational Therapy in 2008 delved deeper into how it works. The researchers took a sample of 34 people and separated them into two groups. One group slept with a 30-pound weighted blanket, and the other group slept with a regular blanket. They found that those who slept with the weighted blankets showed significantly decreased levels of anxiety than the control group. These results were confirmed by another study in published in Australian Psychiatry in 2012.

Doctors in psychiatric, pediatric and geriatric hospitals have used weighted blankets for years as a way to help calm restless or irritable patients. Karen Moore, an occupational therapist in Franconia, New Hampshire and another proponent of DPTS says, “In psychiatric care, weighted blankets are one of our most powerful tools for helping people who are anxious, upset, and possibly on the verge of losing control.”

Other Treatments

Further research has indicated that this therapy can be beneficial in treating many other ailments as well. Because serotonin levels in the brain are the related to so many different mental disorders, DPTS could be beneficial in the treatment of:

  • Depression
  • Bi-polar disorder
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Sensory disorders
  • and many others

The comforting feeling provided by the “warm hug” sensation of weighted blankets can also help calm and comfort patients suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, paranoia, mania and even detoxification symptoms.

Deep touch therapy can also improve circulation and help in the treatment of blood clots and other circulatory problems. This same effect can help improve breathing and be used as an extra treatment for respiratory issues. Because increased serotonin in the brain can reduce pain, weighted blankets can be helpful for any number of painful conditions such as arthritis, menopausal pain, fibromyalgia and even dental pain.

Some of the most interesting research into the benefits of DPTS involves how it can help children. Dr. Temple weighted blanketGrandin has led the way in this field and performed multiple studies on DPTS beginning in the early 1990’s.

“Deep pressure touch has been found to have beneficial effects in a variety of clinical settings,” says Grandin. “In anecdotal reports, deep touch pressure has been described to produce a calming effect in children with psychiatric disorders. Deep pressure stimulation, such as rolling up in a gym mat, has been used to calm children with autistic disorder and ADHD.”

More recently, Grandin and other researchers have been interested in how deep pressure therapy could be used to help treat children with autism. Early studies showed that children with autism responded better to proximal sensing like touching and tasting than to distal sensing like seeing or hearing. Because of this, they are much more receptive to deep pressure sensory treatment.

More benefits are being discovered all the time, and therapists believe that DPTS treatment can be beneficial in treating multiple other sensory-related ailments such as:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Other sensory disorders

How Using a Weighted Blanket Can Help You

You may not be suffering from all or any of the above-mentioned ailments, but it does go to show all the benefits of deep pressure treatment. This wide variety of treatments all relate to serotonin levels in the brain, which in turn relate to reduced anxiety, improved moods and peaceful sleep.

It all goes back to the basic concept of a baby being swaddled in a warm blanket.

“Historically, Native Americans and other indigenous tribes from around the world automatically wrapped their babies snuggly in a swaddle or cradle board to ease fussiness,” says autism counselor and author Tori Boucher. “Innovative hospitals and birthing centers today continue this practice. Weighted blankets are a clever extension of that idea for individuals who continue to need snug pressure beyond infancy.”

Using a weighted blanket is pretty much as simple as it sounds. First, choose the right size, depending on your body size and type. The normal adult weighted blankets are between 15 and 30 pounds. Especially if you have any serious medical conditions, it is always a good idea to check with your doctor before trying any new therapy. Do not use weighted blankets if you are currently suffering from a respiratory, circulatory or temperature regulation problem, or if you are recuperating from surgery.

A Few of the Unlimited Benefits of Acupressure

Acupressure is a method of healing that is growing in popularity in Western cultures. You may have heard the term but be unfamiliar with the actual practice and how it could benefit you. Acupressure can be used to treat anything from stress and depression to pregnancy complications and even cancer. In truth, acupressure has as many critics as it does practitioners, but recent research is beginning to show it can be more effective in natural healing than Americans originally believed.

To help you understand acupressure and help dispel any misconceptions, we have looked deeper into the practice. In this article, we will help you understand acupressure’s origins and benefits. We will also discuss more of the specifics and how you can put them into practice to improve your overall health.

What is acupressure?

Acupressure is an ancient for of healing originally derived from traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM. The basic idea is to help the body heal itself through the flow of natural energy. It is similar in concept to acupuncture but is more practical in everyday usage. Acupressure is believed to have been developed over 3,000 years ago and has lasted the test of time in Eastern cultures.benefits of acupressure

The basic concept behind acupressure is based upon the idea of meridians. Meridians are pathways that exist throughout the body for the purpose of transmitting Qi, or vital energy. There are twelve total meridians in the body that travel through every extremity from the fingertips and toes to the brain.

Qi (pronounced ch’i) flows naturally throughout the body and consists entirely of your own body’s energy. When meridians are blocked, Qi is unable to flow properly, causing an imbalance that is the source of pain and disease. Still with me? Good.

Acupressure is the practice of massaging these meridians, thus allowing Qi to flow properly and help the body heal itself. It can be performed by a professional acupressure practitioner or even performed by oneself at home. In a professional setting, it is similar to a traditional massage. The patient lies flat on a massage board while the practitioner gently massages meridian points in circular motions.

When the natural energy flow of the body is restored, the body’s natural functions will increase in efficiency. This means faster healing from ailments as well as reducing fatigue and common problems. It is also believed that the energy in the meridians directly effects our moods and mental well-being. If positive energy is allowed to flow properly to the brain, it can reduce stress and even treat depression.

Obviously, many of these concepts are doubted by practitioners of traditional Western medicine. However, some aspects of acupressure treatment can be seen without understanding the Qi and meridians. Regular massage is undoubtedly helpful in reducing stress muscle tension. This can also explain why acupressure is so effective in treating pain. Particularly pain involved in arthritis can be significantly eased with regular acupressure massage. According to the experts at WebMD:

“Not all Western practitioners believe that this is possible or even that these meridians exist. Instead, they attribute any results to other factors, such as reduced muscle tension, improved circulation, or stimulation of endorphins, which are natural pain relievers.”

While some may disagree on why acupressure works, it becoming more and more clear that it does. Regular practice of acupressure can be used to treat:

  • Pain: Practitioners of acupressure believe that almost all forms of pain are caused by the inability of Qi to flow properly to the affected areas. This is not the same as just massaging the area that hurts. Every part of the body has a corresponding pressure point that may need to be unblocked to treat pain. For instance, a headache may not necessarily be treated by rubbing the temples. A common pressure point related to headaches is the He Gu. But we’ll get into that later.
  • Appearance of wrinkles: There is a specific branch of acupressure called “cosmetic acupressure.” It is specifically designed as a beauty treatment and can be effective in reducing the appearance wrinkles. This form of the practice is thought to be more practical than others. It works by massaging certain areas of the face to relax the muscles and improve the blood flow in the area. This will improve the tone of these muscles help improve their overall functioning. Many people are now choosing this natural method as opposed to costly and possibly harmful cosmetic surgery.
  • Stress/Mental health: Similarly to how acupressure treats physical pain, it can be just as useful in the treatment of emotional and mental pain. Since meridians travel to every part of the body, a blockage can significantly reduce energy flow to the brain. When this occurs, you can become fatigued, stressed, anxious or depressed. Through proper application of acupressure, the tension can be eased, thus allowing energy to flow properly and improve your overall mood.
  • Libido: Low energy and blood flow can have a negative impact upon your sex life. Ancient Chinese Sexology is incorporated into modern acupressure to cultivate sexual energy. Stimulating certain pressure points can unlock a flow of energy that can significantly improve your sex drive. Understanding and practicing these techniques can have a big impact on your sexual chemistry and improve your love life.
  • Healing: The overall concept of acupressure is to aid the natural energy flow in your body. When meridians become blocked, your body cannot heal itself properly. Anything from a paper cut to severe back pain can take much longer to heal than it naturally should. When these meridians are loosened, it will improve your body’s natural ability to heal.
  • Other Ailments: Acupressure is used to treat an almost unlimited number of ailments. Anything from heart palpitations to cancer is said to be aided in the proper allowance of energy flow. While this may be the case, there is yet to be enough actual evidence or scientific research for us to feel we should go into them here. However, one great aspect of acupressure is its safety when compared to other treatments. While we don’t specifically endorse acupressure in the treatment of all ailments, it is safe enough for you to try on anything that is bothering you.

Meridians and Pressure Points

benefits of acupressureWhile there are believed to be twelve essential meridians in the body, there are almost countless pressure points. Pressure points are specific areas where meridians are commonly blocked. Gently massaging these pressure points will stimulate the energy and unblock the meridians to allow the body’s natural energy to flow as intended.

In order to use these pressure points, relax your body in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Breathe deeply and firmly massage the area in slow motions for the amount of time indicated. You can repeat this as often as necessary.

  • He Gu (Large Intestine 4)
    • Used to treat facial pain, headaches, tooth pain, stress and neck pain
    • Located on the highest part of the muscle when your index fingers and thumb are held together
    • To use: Hold your thumb and index finger together loosely. Firmly massage the area in a circular motion for approximately four to five seconds.
  • Feng Chi (Gallbladder 20)
    • Used to treat migraines, fatigue, vision problems, stress and symptoms of cold or flu
    • To locate, follow the ear bone down the groove to where your neck muscles attach to your skull
    • To use: relax your neck and facial muscles as much as possible. Clasp your hands together with your fingers interlocked to form a cup shape. Use your thumbs to massage the area for approximately four to five seconds.
    • This point can be difficult to locate at first, so it may be good to have someone help you the first time
  • Tai chong (Liver 3)
    • Used for lower back pain, menstrual cramps, pain in limbs, insomnia, stress and anxiety
    • Located on the top of your foot. Start at the are in between your big toe and the next one over. Move down about an inch and a half from this point.
    • While seated, relax both legs as much as possible. Using your index and middle fingers, gently massage the area in slow circles for approximately four to five seconds. Repeat as much as necessary.
    • This pressure point is also said to be useful in the treatment of indigestion, canker sores and genital pain
  • Sin Yin Jiao (Spleen 6)
    • Used in the treatment of pelvic pain, urological problems, menstrual cramps, irritability and insomnia
    • Located on the inside of the leg, approximately three inches above the ankle
    • Find the pressure point by placing four fingers just above your ankle. Using all four fingers, gently massage the area in slow circles for approximately four to five seconds. Repeat as often as necessary.
    • As is the case with many pressure points, Sin Yin Jiao should never be used during pregnancy. It could induce premature labor. If pregnant, always consult your physician before practicing acupressure.

Summary

This is just a brief introduction to the world of acupressure, and it is a vast world. Like most forms of traditional Chinese medicine, acupressure takes a holistic approach and incorporates many different disciplines. As is the case when trying any new form of treatment, it is always a good idea to check with your doctor first.

Images: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=foodanddrink.inc.acupressurepointtips