Stress is something we all face in our daily lives. Whether we’re trying to meet a deadline, have to sit in rush-hour traffic to get to and from work, have to sit through an argument with a loved one, or need to write an exam for school, stress seeps in and often gets the best of us.
Stress levels vary from person to person, but when it becomes chronic, it can wreak havoc on our body. In fact, pretty much every organ in the body is affected by stress. When we are stressed, our cortisol levels rise, and this can compromise the functioning of the immune system.
Too much stress can affect our skin, result in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, raises blood pressure and puts us at risk of a heart attack or stroke, reduces digestibility of food, makes us gain weight in our waistline, and can even reduce fertility. The negative effects of stress on our body can also go as far as not being able to fight off conditions like cancer and autoimmune diseases.
Relieving Stress Naturally
Relieving stress naturally might take a little work, but it is worth it in the long run. There are many techniques out there that can reduce stress like exercise, listening to music, breath work, yoga, meditation, spending time in nature (one of my favourites), massage, a hot bath, hanging out with friends, or simply taking a day off to do whatever you want (aka. making time for yourself and prioritizing self-care).
Natural stress relief is preferable to pharmaceuticals, alcohol, or smoking, because it promotes well-being instead of compromising it.
Many ancient healing systems have shared beliefs about the energy of the body being important for curing ailments and illnesses. A technique utilized in Japan called Jin Shin Jyutsu, employs a method of using certain acupressure points to relieve anxiety and stress.
The method takes only 2-5 minutes, and is quite simple to do.
Natural Stress Relief and Japanese Hand Self-Massage
There are pressure points in the hand, which when massaged, release tension, stress and relieve pain (1). This is the core concept of acupressure, reflexology and massage.
In ancient Japanese tradition, the energy of stress can be easily accessed in the hand to help relieve it. Each finger corresponds to an emotion. By following the technique outlined below, you can address the negative energy in each finger, one at a time, and release them from body and mind.
The best thing about this technique is that it can be done virtually anywhere!
• Thumb: reduce worry and anxiety
• Index: overcome fear
• Middle: control anger and frustration
• Ring: relieve sadness and depression
• Pinky: stimulate self-esteem and general outlook
Concentrate on each of the above fingers for 1-2 minutes. The methodology is explained below:
1. Open your hand with your fingers spread but relaxed. Beginning with your thumb, grasp the sides of the tip on either side of the nail and pinch with gentle pressure. Move slowly down the thumb toward the palm, gently squeezing the sides until you feel the pulse. Pause in each position, allowing your mind to focus only on release before moving to the index finger, middle finger, ring finger, and finally the pinky finger. End the massage with slight pressure applied to the centre of the palm with the opposite thumb. Hold for 1 minute or more.
2. There is a pressure point between the thumb and index finger, located in the muscle just above the base of the thumb where the bones from the thumb and those of the index finger meet. Many nerves run through this muscle, joining the hand to the rest of the body. Relieving tension there is felt throughout the body, including the head, neck and back, promoting a general sense of well-being. Squeeze the muscle with the thumb and forefinger of the opposite hand and massage for as long as you like.
3. The inner wrist holds a pressure point as well, where the bones of the hand and arm meet. Applying gentle pressure in this area is said to help release negative thoughts and emotions. You may feel a tingling or slight numbness with the pressure.
4. On the opposite side of the hand at the outer wrist, where the bone of the arm meets the bones of the hand, is a little indentation. Apply pressure to this point to allow relaxation and mental clarity.
The video below explains a little more, by utilizing a technique of wrapping your entire hand around each individual finger.