Anxiety is extremely common. In the U.S. nearly 1 in 5 adults has an anxiety disorder, and 30% of American adults and children experience anxiety at some point in their lives. Unsurprisingly, these numbers have risen in recent years.
Anxiety can be a normal response in stressful situations, such as public speaking or taking a test. It’s common to occasionally feel:
- a little fearful or apprehensive
- physically tense
- mildly sweaty
- unsure of oneself
This kind of anxiety is hard-wired into our systems like an alarm, originally meant to help us survive a predator attack in prehistoric times. Today, this response helps us sharpen our focus and drive in giving that speech or taking that big exam. It is situational and temporary.
When these feelings intensify, persist and affect daily life, this is clinical anxiety. Symptoms may include:
- heart palpitations
- shallow breathing
- feelings of overwhelm or dread
- racing thoughts
- worry that is hard to control
Instead of being triggered once in a great while, the alarm is now either sounding louder, sounding multiple times per week for months, or both. This can be distressing, and acupuncture can help.
There are many acupuncture points on the body that relieve anxiety. Listed below are eight of the most commonly used ones:
- Du20 Baihui “Hundred Meetings” 💯 sits at the center of the top of the head; benefits the brain and calms the spirit
- Sishencong “Four Alert Spirit” 👑are four points at the top of the head evenly spaced around Du20 (Bonus: the needles form a crown!); calms the spirit
- Yintang “Hall of Impression” 💆🏻♀️is located above the nose at the midpoint between the eyebrows; calms the mind in the treatment of anxiety and agitation
- LI4 Hegu “Joining Valley” 🤚located on the webbed area between the thumb and forefinger; relaxes the physical tension from stress and anxiety, helps relieve headaches
- Shenmen “Spirit Gate” (auricular point👂) located in the upper shell of the ear at the tip of the triangle-like hollow (triangular fossa); used to calm the mind, reduce stress, and treat pain anywhere in the body
- St36 Zusanli “Leg Three Miles” 🦵located one hand’s breadth below the kneecap and one finger’s breadth lateral to the tibia or shin bone; important for whole-body health, this point can provide energy, strengthen digestion, relieve pain, and promote calm
- Liv3 Taichong “Great Rushing” 👟located on the dorsum or top of the foot two finger widths from the intersection of the big toe and second toe, in the hollow between the bones; often paired with LI4 to treat pain, headaches, anxiety, and stress.
- Pc6 Neiguan “Inner Pass” 🌄found on the inner wrist two thumb widths from the joint between the tendons; relieves chest tightness, calms the mind, relieves nausea.
If you have been feeling the weight of the world, talk to your Chinese medicine provider about how acupuncture can help.
Joanna Willis, L.Ac.