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Discovering Self-Care Practices

Image of a Veteran practicing self-care through acupressure, by pressing one finger into the top and middle of foot.

Acupressure is one of several topics on the #LiveWholeHealth self-care blog series. Pictured here is a Veteran practicing acupressure self-care by pressing one finger into the top and middle of their foot.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

VA’ s Whole Health approach is centered on you and what matters to you! You are the central component in your health and well-being. There are several components to promote and maintain the overall state of wellness in your mind, body and spirit. Self-care is a key ingredient that you can access anytime, anywhere and as often as you want.

The #LiveWholeHealth self-care blog series  provides brief videos on a range of topics. You can watch these from your phone, tablet or computer and be guided on topics such as mindful breathing, yoga and more.

Acupressure, a method of self-care similar to acupuncture but without needles, is the application of pressure to specific points on the body, often used to help relieve tension and pain.  Acupressure has been used for thousands of years to provide comfort and help our bodies heal.

Rubbing our temples during a headache or stressful moment is an example of how we naturally choose to place our hands-on specific areas of our body for relief. Acupressure helps the body heal the local tissue you are pressing or massaging and can also affect the meridian system on which the acupressure point is located.

From an Eastern Medicine perspective this may mean balancing and influencing the “qi”, “chi”, or energy of the body that flows in that meridian. From a Western Medicine perspective, acupressure improves circulation, relaxes tight muscles, and releases pain relieving endorphins.

You can learn specific acupressure points  as a self-care method to be used at home., and  can then access the relief these acupressure points provide  whenever it is needed.

When using acupressure, simply press or massage the acupressure point(s) for about 30 seconds. Use an amount of pressure that feels comfortable without being painful. When several points are grouped together to increase effectiveness of the treatment it is called an “acupressure prescription”.

Acupressure prescriptions can be individualized to help a person with a specific complaint like low back pain or headaches or can focus on general wellness. Acupressure can be used to increase energy, calm a stressful moment, or relax the body for sleep. Acupressure can be used many times per day.

Experience acupressure for wellness with Juli Olson, DACM, DC. Juli leads the Acupuncture team for VHA’s Integrative Health Coordinating Center and is a staff chiropractor and acupuncturist at the Iowa City VAMC. This poster may be downloaded, shared and printed for your convenience.


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