Easing Stress Quickly and Simply

Certain circumstances are not completely conducive to giving or receiving hour-long full body massages complete with music, candles, and scented oils. Like when you're in a crowded elevator, for example, or if you're sitting at a departure gate at the airport. In places like those, it's important to remember not to take all your clothes off and start rubbing (either yourself or another person) because that may give massages a strange reputation.

Luckily for you, there are some quick little massage moves you can use every day in public places to help relieve stress. And none of them require you to embarrass yourself.

Easing your own stress

The following are five quick and easy ways to ease your own stress with massage.

Eye hooks

This move feels better than it sounds. Hook your thumbs up into the inner upper corners of your eye sockets, pressing in against the nose bone and up against the ridge of the brow. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. This is great for headaches and sinus congestion.

Headache point

Known to shiatsu practitioners as Large Intestine 4, or LI4, this point is noted for helping to relieve headaches. It's located in the webbing of your hand between the thumb and index finger. The problem is that most people don't press exactly the right spot when they try to stimulate this point on themselves.

The spot is not directly in the center of the meaty part of the webbing, but rather in against the bone of the hand. To press here effectively, grasp the webbing between thumb and index finger with your opposite hand, squeeze it, and then move your thumb in against the side of the hand.

Jaw circles

We all carry whole bunches of tension in our jaw muscles (yes, even you). One good way to alleviate this is to use your fingertips and make tiny little circles right into the center of your jaw muscles. Open and close your mouth slowly at the same time to increase the effect.

You may also want to try gently pulling your chin down until your mouth begins to open, relaxing the jaw muscles. You may be surprised at how tightly you hold your mouth closed, perhaps out of a fear of looking like a dufus. Go ahead, you're all alone; let your mouth hang open for a minute. It'll feel great.

Ear reflexology

According to the zone theory, each point on the bottom of your foot reflects areas in other parts of your body. Did you know that your ears also reflect every other part of the body? Yes, it's true. The Chinese even have an extensive system of treating many disorders with pressure on the ears.

You can give your whole body a boost by simply rubbing your ears with a vigorous little kneading movement between your thumb and first two fingers. Start at the lobe below and walk your fingers up around the outside to the top of the ear, giving little tugs outward as you go. Even if it does nothing for the rest of your body, it makes your ears feel great.

Foot drainage

Most everyone agrees that a foot massage feels great, but what if you're all alone and you have only a few minutes? Well, then try this one move to affect the bladder and adrenal reflex points on the bottom of the feet. It's a good way to stimulate detoxification and elimination while providing some stress relief at the same time.

With one foot up on the opposite knee, press in with your thumb, sliding it back and forth along the arch between the heel and midway up the foot.

Easing a partner's stress

Following are five ways you can help others relieve their stress.

The vice grip

Tightly grasp the top of your partner's right shoulder (the area between the shoulder and neck, consisting mostly of the trapezius muscle) with both of your hands and have her turn her head very slowly to the left. Then have her hold the position at the extreme end of the turn for 10 seconds before slowly turning back. You can switch shoulders if you'd like or repeat on this side if only one shoulder is tight. This is an excellent way to help reduce major stress in the neck and shoulders.

Head squeeze

Although it may look like you're trying to squeeze your partner's head like a gigantic melon, you're actually doing him a big favor with this move, especially if he has a headache. With your elbows well out to the sides, press in with the heels of your hands, using very firm pressure against the sides of your partner's head, just above and in front of the ears. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, asking your partner how the pressure feels. Discontinue if he experiences any discomfort. This is especially effective on tension headaches and has even been known to help with hangovers.

Hooking the skull

Standing behind your partner, place your thumbs at the base of his skull, on the muscles at the top of his neck. Then use a cat-pawing motion to dig your thumbs further into the muscles there, as if you were trying to hook your thumbs up under his skull. This will really loosen up the entire neck.

Make sure not to press directly into the spine with this move, as it may be uncomfortable. Stay about an inch to either side.

Scalp circles

Place your fingertips firmly against your partner's scalp and make little circles while pressing down. Make sure your fingers don't slip across atop the hair but remain firmly pressed against the scalp as you move the skin and thin muscles below. Then, after a few seconds, lift your fingers and repeat the circles on another spot on the scalp.

Wing lift

Have your partner bring one hand around to her lower back, which will lift her shoulder blade up a little. Then use your fingertips to hook into the muscles beneath the shoulder blade and pull steadily upward with light pressure on the blade itself, which will stretch the entire upper back and have a loosening effect on the arm. Repeat on the other side.

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