Traditional Chinese medicines and techniques typically don’t come with a stamp of approval from any governmental agency. Yet some prefer the ancient remedies over today’s conventional medicine. For example, there are holistic Chinese techniques that purportedly reduce anxiety with breathing and acupressure exercises.
Seated Breathing Exercise
You can perform stress-reducing breathing exercises pretty much anywhere, but it is best to do them in a location that’s quiet and not windy. To do seated exercises, sit on the front edge of your chair or bench with your knees bent at approximately right angles, your feet flat on the floor, and your back straight. Relax your shoulders and rest your hands on your knees. Tighten your abs and lean forward slightly as you exhale strongly through your mouth. Expel as much air as you can, then relax your abs as you lean back and inhale normally through your nose to complete one repetition. Try to fill your lungs about halfway by breathing through your nose and then perform another rep. Do three sets of 10 reps, two or three times each day, or work up to that level.
Standing Breathing Exercise
If you prefer to perform breathing exercises while you’re standing, assume an erect posture with your feet shoulder-width apart. Position your hands in front of your lower torso with the fingers of your right hand cupped on top of your left. Look down at the ground in front of you and then inhale as you lift your arms to your sides until they’re horizontal. Breathe through your nose at all times. Exhale as you lower your arms until your hands are in front of you with your fingertips touching.
Hold your breath for about two seconds and then inhale as you raise your hands straight up in front of your torso. Keep your hands close to your body and palms up with your fingertips touching, or nearly so. Turn your palms in toward your body when your hands reach about eye level. Lift your hands, turning your palms to face forward, until your arms are extended straight up over your head. Hold your breath again and then exhale as you lower your arms as they are extended to your sides. Return to the starting position. Try to do 25 to 30 reps per day.
Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine claim that pressing or massaging certain points on the body helps to reduce anxiety and stress. To try it for yourself, position your left thumb horizontally across the wrinkles on top of your right wrist, on the inside of your forearm. Measure two thumb-widths toward your elbow and place the tip of your left thumb nail between the two major forearm tendons -- the tendons will protrude if you make a fist. Press the thumb nail into the acupressure spot and then move it in slow, small circles for about one minute. Repeat the exercise one or two more times during the day, on both arms. There is another acupressure point on your wrist crease just inside of the ulna bone, on the pinkie side of your wrist. There is also one more on the arch of your foot, about one-third of the way in from the big toe and just below the ball of the foot.
Breathing exercises and acupressure techniques may help you reduce stress, calm your mind and allow you to sleep better. Although holistic exercises typically won’t cause harmful side effects, check with your physician before beginning any type of new exercise program.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.