reflexology counselingIf you are one of the thousands of people who struggle with severe anxiety, you know how painful it is to go on a number of different medications and still not find any relief.

For many people, anxiety can become so crippling that it affects their ability to sleep, socialize, maintain friendships, and function at work. Although there are a wide variety of traditional and alternative treatment options for anxiety, reflexology is a method that some people find particularly relaxing.

For individuals with stress-related illnesses, anxiety attacks, confidence issues or other mental or emotional challenged, reflexology can be life-altering. Self-esteem and confidence can be improved significantly, with subjects reporting an ability to deal with difficult situations more successfully.

Understanding Reflexology

Reflexology is an alternative medicine therapy involving application of pressure to the feet and hands with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques with the use of minimal oil or lotion. The goal of reflexology to relieve tension, stress, anxiety, and alleviate other ailments. It was developed on the belief that exact areas on the feet, hands, and other areas that are linked to helping restore proper functioning of internal organs. These areas are called “reflex points.”

Reflexologists believe that the blockage of an energy field prevents healing. Another belief of reflexology is that practitioners can relieve stress and pain in other parts of the body through the manipulation of the feet.

Reflexology evolved from acupuncture, an ancient Chinese therapy. The idea is that touching the reflex points stimulate coordinating parts of the body, such as the back or organs. When these areas become stimulated via massage and pressure techniques, the body’s natural energy flow is restored. Once balance is achieved physical and mental functioning improves.

Treating Stress and Anxiety With Reflexology

One of the most common uses for reflexology is to help treat stress and anxiety. It does this by increasing blood flow to the extremities, slowing down heart rate, and decreasing blood pressure. Reflexology can have varying degrees of pressure. The massage may be soft with minimal pressure or it may be done with more force. Some people actually find deep pressure to be more relaxing.

The most common area of the body studied in reflexology research is the foot region. Massage specific reflex points of the foot have been shown to alleviate anxiety, stress, nausea and pain. A study done of cancer patients using reflexology found that these markers were all significantly improved.

Other research has found that reflex points in the hand can help the entire body relax. Additionally, reflexology on the head has been shown to help with tension headaches and stress headaches.  A common point of focus in the treatment of anxiety with reflexology is the stomach. Massaging this area has been shown to calm an overactive nervous system.

Reflexology can alleviate anxiety by addressing hormonal imbalances. Areas of the body that reflexology affects include the adrenal glands, the brain, the pineal gland and the pituitary gland.

If you are serious about using reflexology to help treat your anxiety, look for a reflexologist who is certified by the American Reflexology Certification Board. A treatment usually lasts between half an hour and an hour. Although you probably don’t have the luxury of receiving reflexology treatment every day, there are things that you can do in between treatment sessions to help keep anxiety at a minimum. Some people use hand and feet reflexology on themselves to help control stress symptoms in between sessions with their reflexologist.

Randi Fredricks, Ph.D.

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