Most people experience anxiety at some point in their life. You might experience mild symptoms when facing a challenging or stressful situation. You might also have more severe, long-lasting symptoms that impact your daily life, including:

  • feelings of panic, fear, or worry
  • restlessness
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • nausea, headaches, or digestive concerns
  • feeling a lack of control
  • muscle tension

Anxiety is typically treated with therapy, medication, or a combination of both. There are also several alternative treatments, including acupressure, that can help.

Acupressure is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that may provide temporary relief from anxiety symptoms. It involves stimulating pressure points in your body, either on your own or with the help of a professional.

Read on to learn about six pressure points you can try for anxiety relief.

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The hall of impression point lies between your eyebrows. Applying pressure to this point is said to help with both anxiety and stress.

To use this point:

  1. Sit comfortably. It can help to close your eyes.
  2. Touch the spot between your eyebrows with your index finger or thumb.
  3. Take slow, deep breaths and apply gentle, firm pressure in a circular motion for 5 to 10 minutes.

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The heavenly gate point is located in the upper shell of your ear, at the tip of the triangle-like hollow there.

Stimulating this point is said to help relieve anxiety, stress, and insomnia.

To use this point:

  1. Locate the point in your ear. It might help to use a mirror.
  2. Apply firm, gentle pressure in a circular motion for two minutes.

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The shoulder well point is in your shoulder muscle. To find it, pinch your shoulder muscle with your middle finger and thumb.

This pressure point is said to help with relieving stress, muscle tension, and headaches. It can also induce labor, so don’t use this point if you’re pregnant.

To use this point:

  1. Find the point on your shoulder muscle.
  2. Pinch the muscle with your thumb and middle finger.
  3. Apply gentle, firm pressure with your index finger and massage the point for four to five seconds.
  4. Release the pinch as you massage the point.

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You find this pressure point in the webbing between your thumb and index finger.

Stimulating this point is said to reduce stress, headaches, and neck pain. Like the shoulder well point, it can also induce labor, so avoid this point if you’re pregnant.

To use this point:

  1. With your index finger and thumb, apply firm pressure to the webbing between the thumb and index finger of your other hand.
  2. Massage the pressure point for four to five seconds, taking slow, deep breaths.

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The great surge pressure point is on your foot, about two or three finger widths below the intersection of your big toe and second toe. The point lies in the hollow just above the bone.

This pressure point may help to reduce anxiety and stress. You can also use it for pain, insomnia, and menstrual cramps.

To use this point:

  1. Find the point by moving your finger down straight down from between your first two toes.
  2. Apply firm, deep pressure to the point.
  3. Massage for four to five seconds.

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You can find the inner frontier gate point on your arm, about three finger widths below your wrist.

Stimulating this point may help to reduce anxiety while also relieving nausea and pain.

To use this point:

  1. Turn one hand so your palm faces up.
  2. With your other hand, measure three fingers below your wrist. The point lies here, in the hollow between the tendons.
  3. Apply pressure to the point and massage for four to five seconds.

There’s limited research about the use of acupressure and pressure points for anxiety. But experts are starting to look at alternative anxiety treatments.

Most of the studies that do exist have focused on pressure points for anxiety before a potentially stressful situation or medical procedure, rather than general anxiety. They’ve also all been fairly small. Still, their results are promising.

For example, a 2015 review of several studies examining the effects of acupressure on anxiety found that acupressure seemed to help relieve anxiety before a medical procedure such as surgery.

Another 2015 study of 85 people hospitalized for cancer treatment found that acupressure helped to reduce their anxiety.

A 2016 study looked at anxiety in 77 students with severe menstrual pain. Acupressure applied at the great surge pressure point during three menstrual cycles decreased anxiety in study participants by the end of the third cycle.

Most recently, a 2018 study found that acupressure helped reduce stress and anxiety symptoms in women receiving fertility treatments.

Again, larger studies are needed to fully understand how to use pressure points for anxiety. But the existing studies haven’t found any negative effects of acupressure on anxiety symptoms, so it may be worth a try if you’re looking to try a new approach.

Just keep in mind that these studies also suggest that acupressure seems to provide temporary, not long-term, relief from symptoms. Make sure to keep up with all other stress management, therapy, or other treatments prescribed by your doctor while trying acupressure.

While acupressure may provide some temporary relief from anxiety symptoms, there’s not much evidence that it’ll help with long-term anxiety.

If you find that your anxiety symptoms are making it hard to go to work or school or interfering with your relationships, it may be time to talk to a doctor or therapist. Concerned about the cost of therapy? Here are therapy options for every budget.

You should talk to a doctor or therapist if you start to experience:

  • feelings of depression
  • thoughts of suicide
  • panic attacks
  • trouble sleeping
  • headaches
  • digestive problems

Acupressure can be a helpful tool for temporarily managing anxiety symptoms, but there’s not enough evidence to support its use as a treatment for ongoing anxiety. Still, using these pressure points in instances where you’re feeling particularly stressed or anxious can help.

Just make sure to keep up with any other treatments recommended by your doctor and reach out to them or a therapist if your symptoms become more severe or start interfering with your day-to-day life.