Self-Tools for Anxiety and Sleep using Traditional Chinese Medicine By Edythe Vickers ND, LAc
Now is the perfect time to utilize the techniques taught to me over 30 years ago for self-care, calming the nervous system, muscle relaxation and improving sleep. Acupuncture and acupressure are great tools and have been used for 3000 years to help bring the body into balance; away from the symptoms of imbalance like insomnia, anxiety, heart palpitations, stomach aches and general dis-ease.
Simple breathing exercises can help restore a healthy centered pattern. There are many rhythmic breathing patterns that are said to help calm the body and improve sleep. An example is the 4 4 6 technique.
Breathe in through your nose to the count of 4
Next hold your breathe for the count of 4
Now release your breathe through your mouth, for the count of 6
Repeat. Try and do 4 breath cycles without breaking your concentration. Repeat as often as you can. This can also be done as repetitive prayer.
The Binaural Beats App (a free app found on your smart phone; Apple or Droid) can be used to help replicate the brain state that that is found during sleep; use the delta wave setting to help you fall asleep and stay asleep easier. Use the Alpha wave for relaxation. This app must be listened to with stereo headphones. The binaural beat is “produced within the brain in response to two similar pure tones being presented separately to each ear. The rhythm of the binaural beat equals the difference between the two tones and, if sustained, this rhythm can be entrained throughout the brain. The frequency of the binaural beat can thus be selected to produce particular EEG‐associated states.” R Padmanabhan et al., A prospective, randomized, controlled study examining binaural beat audio and pre‐operative anxiety in patients undergoing general anesthesia for day case surgery* Anesthesia, 7-2005 Other free apps for your smartphone with guided meditations include:
Tapping is also a good way to calm your body and regain your equilibrium. Tapping on your lips can help to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, helping to calm and center your body.
There are many acupuncture points that are also helpful to tap or hold:
Governing Vessel 26 (Ren Zhong). This point is located above the upper lip, at the junction of the upper third and middle third of the philtrum. Used for fainting and collapse, hysteria.
Governing Vessel 20 (Bai Hui): This point is located at the top of the head approximately 5 inches from the hairline, in the middle of the head. Uses include clearing the senses and calming the spirit.
Conception Vessel 17(Dan Zhong): This point is located on the anterior midline, at the level of the 4th intercostal space, between the nipples. It is used for fright, pain in the chest, fullness in the chest and palpitations among other uses.
Kidney 27 (Shu Fu): located in the depression on the lower border of the clavicle, 2 inches lateral to the midline. Uses include cough, calming and soothing.
Kidney 1 (Youn Quan): This point is located on the sole of the foot, about 1/3 of the way from the base of the second toe and 2/3 of the way up from the heel at the bottom of the foot between the second and third metatarsals. It can be used for calming, grounding and insomnia.
Ear Acupressure for Anxiety and Sleep using Traditional Chinese Medicine By Edythe Vickers ND, LAc
Ear acupuncture/acupressure is a system that can be used to bring balance to the body. There is a map of our entire body in the ear, and by stimulating certain points we can feel the effects of the release of endorphins (calming and soothing, centering and decreased pain). If I had to pick 5 points to help in this time of great stress and anxiety, they would be as follows:
Shen Men (Neurogate): In the triangular fossa, 1/3 of the way, between the apex of the triangular fossa, towards the helix. Shen Men is along the superior ridge of the fossa, in the upper half of the triangular fossa. Uses, anti-anxiety, sedative, analgesic, anti-allergies.
Heart: In the lowest depression in the inferior concha. Indications for use include Heart issues, blood pressure issues, and mental disorders. This is a good point for strengthening the heart and calming the spirit.
Adrenal: At the prominence on the inferior part of the tragus. ¾ the distance from the top of the tragus to the bottom. Indications for use include regulation of cortisol andadrenalin. Also, for inflammation, allergies, shock, asthma and chronic diseases.
Subcortex: On the anterior side of the inner wall of the antitragus, ½ way down the back side of the wall. Regulates excitation and inhibition of the cerebral cortex. Indications for use include insomnia, fatigue, neuropsychiatric problems, inflammation, excessive sweating, and pain.
Brain: on the high point of the antitragus. Indications for use include excitation and inhibition of the brain. Used for any diseases of the nervous system, digestive system, urogenital system, or endocrine system.
Ear seeds or pellets consist of small black seeds from the vaccaria plant or small metal beads or ceramic pellets that are secured on the ear with a piece of adhesive tape over specific acupressure points. The continuous mild pressure they exert is amplified by stimulating the seed or pellet with a few seconds of fingertip massage every few hours. Ear seeds are non-invasive and do not puncture the skin. You can make these pellets at home with a dried bean and tape. Just take the dries bean or lentil and cover with a small piece of tape and apply to the point in your ear. The pressure of the tape allows the point to be stimulated. Keep on for 1-3 days.
You could also buy online vaccaria seeds or metal ears seeds. Look on amazon.com
Here is an ear seed being placed on shenmen, and also one on stomach.
Some body pressure points that are also helpful during this time. You can place a bean over these points as well. Heart 7 which is used for stress and worry, also poor sleep.
Pericardium 6: best known for nausea and vomiting, but also opens the chest and calms fright.
Kidney 1: best known for its calming and centering principles. It is also a good point for headaches.
Stomach 36: aids digestive disturbances, and it great for calming and centering the body.
Governing Vessel 20: helps to regulate your energy, to sharpen your mind and aid concentration.