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Pressure Points to Relieve Stress

Little else is so all-consumingly painful as a pounding stress or tension headache—when your eyes water and everything appears blurry and irrelevant. It can make you irritable and moody, and ruin your day. Calling on acupressure techniques may provide symptom relief whether your headache is just starting or you’re already in the throes of it.

Tension or stress headaches affect about 80 percent of Americans at some point in time—about three percent experience them chronically.  The most common type of headache occurring in adults, they can be identified by pain located in the muscular region in the head and neck. These muscles tighten causing tenderness and pain. It’s a vicious cycle—stress gives you tension headaches and being out of commission due to the headache increases the stress. Instead of popping painkillers, try the traditional Chinese medical practice of acupressure to reduce the pain naturally.

First of all, no therapy can work on the outside if you do not examine the root cause of the condition. Unless that is addressed, just cosmetic measures taken externally will not eliminate the pain sustainably, and there will always be a chance that the pain resurfaces. So, before we get into the pressure points let’s understand what leads to tension or stress headaches.

What Causes Tension Headaches?

1. Not slowing down. 

You can help keep tension headaches at bay for good by eating properly, improving your sleep hygiene, and pacing yourself well. You may be surprised by how much tension headaches have to do with the pace and quality of your life.

To begin, regularly eat more sattvic meals and stay hydrated. Whenever you eat or drink, do it mindfully. Make sure you go to sleep at the right time and get the sleep that your body and mind require.

Lack of routine, irregular meal times, and poor sleep result in fatigue that can compound your stress headache. All in all, a stress headache is a sign your body is giving you to slow down and relax.

Take some time out for yourself to nourish your body and mind. Try deep healing practices like yoga, diaphragmatic breathing techniques, and certain mudras that can balance the doshas, soothe your nervous system, and increase oxygenation in your body—all of which will help allay the triggers for stress headaches.

Ayurveda’s holistic, rejuvenating, and detoxifying cleanses and therapies are tailored to your Prakriti for treating the dosha imbalances that may have led to the headache symptoms in the first place.

2. Imbalances in Vata and Pitta Dosha

Tension or stress headaches can be caused by severe vata vitiation, and occasionally also when pitta gets aggravated. Vata dosha governs the nervous system and higher cerebral functions. It is a dry and fast-moving dosha. It also regulates the mind, flow of breath, and blood circulation in the body. And so, when vata is vitiated due to emotional or mental stress, it can trigger tension headaches. Alertness, anxiety, pain, spasms, or body tremors are associated with vata dosha.

Check out the Dinacharya, the Ayurvedic daily routine, to get your body, mind, and spirit back into balance. Download a copy here.

3. Skipping Meals

If you already have a history of headaches, skipping meals can further spell trouble for you. Skipping meals while working can exacerbate things further by pitta getting out of hand as well. So, it is important to eat at regular intervals and at the same time.

4. Diet to Avoid Vata-Pitta Imbalance

To bring vata in balance, it is important to attend to ahara or food. Avoid raw, cold, dry, or very heavy food. Have warm, cooked foods like broths, soups, hot beverages, or lightly sautéed veggies regularly.

Some of the other causes of tension headaches that can as much be the result of stress are irregular bowel movements, constipation, eye strain, and regulating natural urges.


This traditional Chinese practice is based on the concept of Qi or life energy (also called prana in the science of Ayurveda) that flows through meridians in the body (described as Nadis in Ayurveda). The basis is that pains and diseases manifest when the flow of life energy is blocked. Applying moderate pressure at specific points throughout the body can clear out these energy blockages and bring the body back to a state of balance.

Before you start, familiarize yourself with the exact location of the pressure points. Here are some well-known pressure points to help you naturally relieve tension and pain.

Third Eye

The Third-Eye, or the Yintang, Point

Gently massage this point, located between the eyebrows, by applying steady pressure for one minute while taking long, deep breaths.

Union Valley 300x202 1

LI 4 or Union Valley Point

You find this pressure point in the webbing between your thumb and index finger. Here too, you can practice long mindful breaths as you apply pressure in the region with the thumb and index finger of the other hand. Stimulating this point can also induce labor, so avoid this point if you’re pregnant.

Drilling Bamboo

B2 or the Drilling Bamboo

This involves applying pressure with the index fingers at the two points at the end of each eyebrow on the inside where the eyebrows connect to the nose bridge.

Gates of Consciousness

GB 20 or Gates of Consciousness

Located at the base of the skull in the parallel hollow areas between the two vertical neck muscles, these points are related to blood circulation in the brain. When they are blocked, you may feel tightness and pressure in the head region and experience difficulty making decisions.

Work these points by placing your index and middle fingers of either hand onto these pressure points. Press firmly upward on both sides at once for 10 seconds, then release and repeat. You can also hold the skull in your other fingers and place the thumb in the wells and continue to apply pressure.

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GB 21 or Shoulder Well

When you are stressed, it is almost guaranteed to show up as stiffness in your shoulders. When energy is blocked in this region due to stress and stiffness, you are likely to be irritated, uptight, and impatient. To relieve the stress from this region, you can apply pressure at point no GB21, which sits right in the middle point from the vertebrae column and rotator cuff on your shoulders on both sides. This point is used for neck pain, headaches, stiffness, and tension in the shoulders.

Hold the side of the shoulder with the thumb and place the index fingers at this point to apply steady pressure and massage this point.

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