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DIY acupuncture for stress, anxiety, sleep and depression

Written by Dr Patricia Diaz | Thursday, 11 November 2021

chinese medicine

While it is normal to feel stressed, anxious or depressed now and then, the pandemic has exacerbated mental health concerns for many people.

A recent survey¹ highlighted how lockdowns can cause a prevalence of depression and anxiety, with respondents concerned about losing their job, contracting COVID-19, or not being able to access their usual support networks.

Studies² ³ have shown that acupuncture may assist with depression, and during these locked down times self-administered acupressure can be a handy tool to help lower anxiety and depression and lift your mood.

Acupressure works just the same as acupuncture, except no needles are involved and the best part is that you can perform acupressure yourself anytime anywhere.

“Acu” means care or precision ⁴, and combined with pressure, it is used on the skin to conduct bioelectrical impulses in the body. When certain points are manipulated with acupuncture needles or pressure, pain-relieving neurochemicals called endorphins are released causing the muscles to relax and the healing process to begin in the affected areas.

From a Chinese Medicine perspective, as the point is pressed Qi (pronounced “Chi”), also known as the body’s internal energy, and blood begins to circulate, and this can aid in balancing the neurotransmitters. When neurotransmitters are low, this is a precursor that can lead to depression.

Acupressure can also help keep emotions in check, balance stress, and anxiety levels, and can relieve tension caused by repressed feelings.

Here are some DIY Acupressure starters for anyone feeling anxious, stressed, depressed, or in need of some quality shut-eye.

Acupressure for stress:

Governing Vessel 16 Wind Palace — Directly in the back of the head, one thumb breath above the midpoint of the posterior hairline. Feel for the large hollow depression under the base of the skull.

How To Acupressure: Press together with index and middle finger in the direction towards the top of the head whilst gently tilting the head slightly backward.

Benefits: Headaches, stiff necks, vertigo, dizziness, mental stress, and fatigue.

Emotional/Mental Level: Helps clear the mind.

Governing Vessel 16 (1).jpg

Acupressure for anxiety:

Yintang extra point Hall Of Impressions (also known as the Third Eye) — Located on the forehead, between the eyebrows.

How to Acupressure: Gently press down, applying soft to medium pressure using index finger and hold for 10 seconds, then release. Repeat 3 – 5 times.

Benefits: Headaches, vertigo, dizziness and mental disorders.

Emotional/Mental Level: Reduces anxiety and worry, relieves tension and irritability, and helps maintain focus and a sense of self-control.

YIN TANG - 3RD EYE (1).jpg

Governing Vessel 20 One Hundred Meeting Point — On the middle of the head, at the midpoint between the tip of the ears to the top of the head.

How to Acupressure: Feel for the hollow depression on the very top of the head and gently press down using the index finger and hold for 10 seconds, then release. Repeat 3 – 5 times.

Benefits: Headaches, vertigo, and mental disorders.

Emotional/Mental Level: Clears and calms the mind, relieves anger, settles emotions, and boosts morale.

Governing Vessel 20(1) (1).jpg

Acupressure for depression:

Lung 1 Middle Palace — On the upper chest, in the tender depression 20cm from the middle of your chest towards the outside portion of the chest, and three finger widths below the collarbone.

How to Acupressure: Usually quite tender to touch. Feel for muscular tension in the upper outside portion of the chest and stimulate by gently massaging using your index and middle finger together or tapping.

Benefits: Difficult breathing, revives breathing, and eases coughing.

Emotional/Mental Level: Calming, brings inspiration, restores a sense of higher purpose, and helps to move through grief.

Acupressure for sleep:

Kidney 6 Shining Sea— Located in the depression directly below the border of the inner ankle bone.

How to Acupressure: Palpate with the index finger and feel the tender depression. Press down firmly for 10 seconds and then release. Repeat 3 – 5 seconds.

Benefits: Irregular menstrual cycles, frequent urination, dryness, and pain of the throat.

Emotional/Mental Level: Insomnia and release sense of fear.

KIDNEY 6(1) (1).jpg


  1. Stocker R, Tran T, Hammarberg K, Nguyen H, Rowe H, Fisher J. Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9) and General Anxiety Disorder 7 (GAD-7) data contributed by 13,829 respondents to a national survey about COVID-19 restrictions in Australia. Psychiatry Res. 2021 Apr;298:113792. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2021.113792. Epub 2021 Feb 8. PMID: 33592399.
  2. Armour M, Smith CA, Wang LQ, Naidoo D, Yang GY, MacPherson H, Lee MS, Hay P. Acupuncture for Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Clin Med. 2019 Jul 31;8(8):1140. doi: 10.3390/jcm8081140. PMID: 31370200; PMCID: PMC6722678.
  3. Zhang J, Wu X, Nie D, Zhuo Y, Li J, Hu Q, Xu J, Yu H. Magnetic Resonance Imaging Studies on Acupuncture Therapy in Depression: A Systematic Review. Front Psychiatry. 2021 Aug 20;12:670739. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.670739. PMID: 34489749; PMCID: PMC8417590.
  4. Gao, D. (1997). The Encyclopedia of Chinese Medicine. Kiribati: Carlton. “Acupressure” (p.149).

Dr Patricia Diaz

Not only is Dr Patricia Diaz one of Endeavour College's esteemed lecturers, Patricia has already established her international reputation as one of Australia’s best-known health experts and founder of the newLife centre for Women and acuIVF™ (acupuncture for In-Vitro Fertilization). Patricia had also served as a practitioner member panel for the Chinese Medicine Board of NSW, assisting in conducting inquiries, hearings into complaints, and notifications about the conduct of registered Chinese Medicine practitioners and students practising in NSW.

Read more by Dr Patricia Diaz