If you’re dreading the usual drama and conflict at your next family gathering, try this new approach to self care. Instead of pointing fingers at each other, poke yourself into a healthier relationship with your own body with acupressure.
Just as communication styles
vary and understanding them better helps bring you closer to your family, understanding the effects emotions have on your body can provide valuable clues to managing your energy when interacting with your family. They can even clue you in on what’s driving the other person’s behavior. Remember, emotion literally means energy in motion!
Sometimes emotional imbalances are caused by physical imbalances. Is your normally docile and patient middle-aged mother now short-tempered? Perhaps she is in peri-menopause and has depleted adrenals, the glands which regulate the stress hormone cortisol.
Do you have a depressed uncle who used to be cheerful and the life of the party but who is now always crabby? A congested liver might be blocking his Qi and his ability to detox.
The mind and emotions in health and disease are an inherent component of Eastern medicine and the 5 Element Theory, says Banya Lim, an acupuncturist and director of Sedona Story and Chakra Healing Arts Center in Sedona, Arizona.
According to the 5 Element Theory, the five primary emotions – joy, sadness, fear, anger, and worry – are intimately connected to the organs and have a reciprocal effect on one another. The effects of strong emotions that remain unbalanced for long periods of time may be manifested in three aspects of the body: the Qi, the blood or on the yin aspect. And conversely an imbalance of Qi, blood or Yin can affect the ‘Shen’ or the mind and emotions.
“By focusing on the body when in emotionally charged situations,” Lim says, “you can find a way to heal your relationships with your family, and your relationship to yourself.”
Here's a list of the five emotions, including their corresponding organs and some acupressure exercises you can use to balance them.
Each acupressure point is bilateral, that is, the meridians run along both the left and right sides of the body and therefore acupressure you perform on one side should be repeated on the opposite side for effective balance.
Press into each point for about about 5 seconds and 5 times on each point. You can do each side separately or do acupressure on both sides at the same time.
The length of time or intensity of pressure you use is highly individual. However, the more tender a point feels the more likely you are experiencing congestion in that meridian and should invest more time on that part of your body for better results.
Anger corresponds to the liver and gallbladder. Eastern medicine says that gallstones are ‘fossilized bits of aggression’ and that is where the term ‘galling’ comes from.
This acupressure point is at the top of the foot, below the big toe. Holding the side of your foot, press into the point with the pad of your thumb to stimulate and tonify your liver which will help increase bile production and help your gallbladder function better.
Joy, unsurprisingly, corresponds to the heart and small intestine. While we all want to experience more joy, it is still an emotion and causes energetic changes in the body. If ‘overjoyed’ for too long, you could wind up in an unbalanced state.
Keep yourself in check with the acupressure point located on the palm, below the ring finger. Holding your wrist with your other hand, gently press the pad of your thumb into the point with as much pressure as is comfortable.
Worry corresponds to the spleen and the stomach. When you feel your stomach ‘tied up in knots,’ that’s a strong indication your spleen meridian could use some clearing.
This point is located on the leg, four fingers’ width below the knee cap. Place your hand at the front your knee, count four fingers down and then press the point right outside your shin bone.
It’s said that when the lungs are congested with sadness they hold all your unspent tears. Sadness also corresponds to the large intestine. Get things flowing again with the acupressure point on your hands, both left and right.
This point is in the fleshy part of your palm, between the first thumb knuckle and your wrist. Place your hand palm up in your other hand and gently push the pad of your thumb into this area just below your thumb. You can use steady pressure or massage in tiny circles. Soon you will feel like you can catch your breath again.
The kidneys and bladder correspond to fear. That’s why it makes sense when people say, “I was so scared I almost peed my pants!” when they are afraid. Sustained fear is extremely stressful on the adrenal glands, kidneys and central nervous system. Calm your nerves and tone your kidney meridian with the acupressure point located on the inside ankle.
Find this point just below the ankle bone. Grasping the back of your ankle in one hand palm down, press into the point with the pad of your thumb to stimulate your kidneys.
With a little practice you can be a master of your emotions and your own best friend. That’s sure to make an impression on your family!