In Chinese medical philosophy, everything goes through periods of expansion and contraction, up and down, high and low. The ebb and flow are natural and to be expected. For example, we tend to feel more energised and active in the summer, and more dormant and slow-moving in the winter. These cycles though can also apply to the highs and lows we experience in a single day.
We wake up to a bright sun, rested and ready to conquer the world, then steadily throughout the afternoon and evening, our energy slowly winds down again as we settle into a restful evening and then go to sleep. However, what do you do when you’ve been doing too much, not sleeping enough, or your diet is no longer fuelling you with the ample energy you used to have?
At some point or another, after too much time spent juggling every area of life (not to mention trying to do everything perfectly) something starts to give. Health issues like fatigue and exhaustion that you generally want to avoid tend to become the main characteristics of your day-to-day life.
We’ve all been there – dragging ourselves out of bed when the alarm goes off way too soon, downing a couple of Americanos in order to get going and make it through the day, skipping our exercise class because we’re just too tired to imagine moving, canceling plans and missing things we usually find fun, because we don’t have the energy. It's a cycle that many of us face every single day, no matter the season. However luckily, Chinese medicine has been a great source of knowledge for thousands of years on natural ways to increase energy and we're now going to explore how we can utilise these traditional remedies and incorporate them into our modern every routines.
Clearing blockages for energy flow: how acupuncture works
You’ve likely heard of, or tried, acupuncture* – the insertion of very fine needles into powerful points that are located along meridians. You can think of meridians as being like the body’s highway system. There are 12 main meridians, and most of the points your acupuncturist uses in a treatment are located along them, because like highways, they provide the fastest moving, most efficient connections for energy, blood and information to travel from one part of the body to another. Meridians also explain why, for example, a point located in the web between the thumb and first finger is often used to treat headaches. While the point is nowhere near your head, it’s located along a meridian that travels up your arm and ends in your head, so in Chinese medicine, it's said that it's still intimately connected to your head pain.
How to become an acupuncturist
It takes over three years of training and studying the meridians to become a licensed acupuncturist. But you don’t have to study for three years, or even make an appointment with your local acupuncturist in order to work with meridians and stimulate more energy – you can do so yourself using your fingers to apply pressure to a few powerful points!
What is acupressure good for and how does it work?
By using the points and meridians, acupressure has effects similar to acupuncture, in that it releases muscle tension and pain and is a successful method in releasing blocked energy in the body. It also helps stimulate and increase circulation of blood, lymph and endorphins to promote healing. Acupressure requires low amounts of supporting products or technology methods, if none at all.
Acupressure points to press for instant energy
• Yin Tang – this point, located at the third eye chakra or just between and above the eyebrows, is used to open and clear perception and calm the mind from overactive thinking.
• GB21/JianJing – located at the highest point of the shoulder/trapezius muscle, this point can be used for any upper body tension to stimulate systemic circulation, and relieve fatigue.
Note: avoid using this point if you are currently pregnant.
• Ren6/QiHai – this point, located 2 finger widths below the belly button, translates to 'Sea of Qi', and is used to call upon deep, dormant energy to relieve fatigue.
Note: avoid using this point if you are currently pregnant.
• ST36/ZuSanLi – this point is referred to as 'Leg Three Miles', meaning that it boosts energy and strengthens muscles so much that you can walk an additional 3 miles! It's located 4 finger widths below the kneecap, and 1 finger width to the outside of your tibia, or shin bone.
• LV3/TaiChong – located on the top of the foot, 2 finger widths above where the big toe and second toe meet, this acupressure point is used to relieve stress and ease anxiety, and to increase smooth blood circulation.
How to release blocked energy in the body
1. Find a comfortable position and locate the point you’d like to use.
2. Close your eyes and breathe deeply into your belly while pressing the point with firm, consistent pressure for 1-3 minutes. No need to press too hard even lightly stimulating the point by placing your thumb or finger on it will activate your connective tissue and start the healing response.
3. Repeat at each subsequent point.
4. Optional technique: instead of pressing, you can try rubbing or tapping the point, using a consistent rhythm and light stimulation.
You can start by doing acupressure for 10 minutes each day, keeping in mind that more is not necessarily better. You don’t need to increase the time you’re spending on it in order to experience results. In fact, most acupuncturists say that it’s far more helpful to practice it regularly for short periods of time than to do it once for an hour but then never again.
Benefits of acupressure for tiredness, fatigue and exhaustion
Research indicates that this ancient method of touch therapy, or pressure on acupoints, releases natural painkillers called endorphins and may block the transmission of pain signals along nerves. Therefore, it can help to boost energy naturally, help you get better quality sleep and relieve discomfort from physcial pain too.
After regular use of acupressure, you’ll start to become aware of the way your body responds to the pressure you’re applying. You may feel sensations in the point itself, or in other areas of your body, when you’re pressing on or tapping a particular point. This is means that your meridian system is responding to the directions that you’re giving it through your use of acupressure. For tracking the effects of acupressure, start a note on your phone and keep track of the points you used and how you felt afterward. You’ll be surprised by how much your energy changes over time.
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