Stress balls are a very popular way for busy people to find relief from tension. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers its own version, a Chinese meditation tool called Baoding balls. This article discusses TCM’s perspective on stress and the differences between stress balls and Baoding balls. You’ll discover why both stress balls and Baoding balls help calm the mind, and ways to use Baoding balls to relieve tension, relax joints, and improve sleep quality.
What Are Stress Balls?
Stress balls are small, malleable, foam or gel-filled spheres — or other shapes — that are squeezed in the hand and manipulated by the fingers. A study by the Polytechnic Institute of New York University shows that fiddling with small toys can actually help you relieve stress, enhance your productivity, and even give your memory a boost.
Senior TCM Physician Brandon Yew from Real Medical Health clinic notes that working with stress balls creates a physical outlet for pent-up energy from stress. The act of squeezing and throwing the stress ball can also provide a needed mental break.
What Is A Baoding Ball?
Unlike stress balls, Baoding “meditation balls” are not soft. They date back to the Ming dynasty when people used them for dexterity and strength training, as well as to reduce stress and help to calm the mind. Traditionally they were made of iron. Today, they are made of many different lightweight materials and typically come in pairs.
How To Use A Baoding Ball
You can use the balls in two ways: By turning them between your fingers or to massage various parts of the body. Meditation balls can even enhance the circulation of blood if they are somewhat textured, or “bumpy”. Firm and cool to the touch, Baoding balls have extremely calming properties.
For beginners, try using smaller Baoding balls. Make sure that your ring and pinky fingers are able to balance one ball, while the rest of your fingers and palm hold the other ball. You can start by rotating the balls. Move the ball on your ring and pinky fingers upwards and push down the other ball to switch their positions. Focus and feel the weight of Baoding balls on your palm and fingers.
As your movement becomes more in tune, you may level up by speeding up your movement. If you’re up for the challenge, try using bigger and heavier Baoding balls. Although this exercise looks simple, it requires full concentration — especially the first few times.
How You Can Dispel Stress
Stress balls and Baoding balls are convenient for relieving stress while you’re on the go or at the office. They’re compact and can fit in a purse, backpack, briefcase, or duffel bag. People who use stress balls report having relaxed muscles and less achy joints, less stress and anxiety, stronger memory, and higher quality sleep.
Beyond baoding balls: Other techniques and remedies that you can use to de-stress include deep breathing exercises, mindfulness practice, and quick meditation. Try them whenever you have a few minutes to yourself at home or at work during your lunch breaks.
Lingzhi Cracked Spores Powder is a supplement that calms the mind. It’s suitable for those with busy and hectic lifestyles — which can lead to stress and high blood pressure. Lingzhi helps reduce fatigue, improve blood circulation, and improve sleep quality, all of which are negatively affected by prolonged stress.
What Happens When You’re Stressed
The American Psychological Association reports that long-term stress has serious consequences and effects on the body. One major side effect of stress is tense muscles and body aches. As a result, you may get headaches, migraines, and shoulder, and neck pain.
Stress and very negative emotions activate the body’s fight or flight response. This can trigger asthma attacks, difficulty breathing, and increased heartbeat rates. Prolonged or repetitive stress attacks can lead to long-term damage to the heart and blood vessels.
In TCM, the liver is the driving force for the body to effectively deal with stress. When stress becomes overwhelming or repetitive, it wears the liver to exhaustion, resulting in liver qi (vital energy) stagnation.
Blood and fluids circulation gets disrupted, causing the formation and accumulation of blood clots and phlegm in the body. The spleen, stomach, gall bladder, kidneys, and lungs are also greatly affected.
TCM Stress-Management Remedies
Physician Yew explains that you can relieve stress through herbal remedies, acupuncture, and other techniques, including tuina (Chinese massage and manipulation therapy), moxibustion, and cupping therapies performed by a TCM physician.
You can also perform acupressure as a self-help technique. You can try acupressure by placing your fingers or a firm, smooth object at a specific point of the body (acupoints). When you apply gentle but firm pressure to the area and massage clockwise, and counterclockwise, for at least 3 minutes, you can reduce stress and pain. To discover which acupoints would benefit you, check out the information below.
Acupressure For Stress Relief
Acupoints that directly relieve stress are:
- Baihui (GV20): top of the head, along the midline of the body, approx. on the midpoint of the line connecting the apexes of two ears.
- Yintang (EX-HN3): on the forehead, at the midpoint between the two medial ends of the eyebrow.
- Shenmen (HT7): on the wrist, at the end of the crease of the wrist, in the depression on the radial side of the tendon.
- Daling (PC7): the midpoint of the transverse crease of the wrist, between the two tendons of the anterior aspect of the forearm.
- Zusanli (ST36): on the lower leg, 4-fingers width below the out knee joint, one-finger width from the anterior crest of the tibia.
- Taichong (LR3): located on the dorsum of the foot, in the depression of the first metatarsal space.
- Fengchi (GB20): in the depression created between the Sternocleidomastoid and Trapezius muscles, at the connection of the occipital and nuchal areas.
- Hegu (LI4): located on the dorsum of the hand, directly between the 1st and 2nd metacarpal bones.
- Taiyang (EX-HN5): in the area of the temples, in the depression about one-finger width between the lateral end of the eyebrow and outer canthus area.
- Danzhong (CV17): located on the anterior middle line of the chest, at the level of the 4th intercostal space, at the midpoint between the breasts.
- Sanyinijiao (SP6): on the inner lower leg, 4-fingers width above the tip of the inner ankle, directly behind the shin bone.
- Jianjing (GB21): located on the shoulder directly above the nipple, at the midpoint of the line connecting the acromion and the depression below the spinous process of the 7th cervical vertebra.
It is important to note that acupressure is helpful in allowing you to manage mild stress. For severe stress, you should also consult with a professional TCM physician, as well as a psychiatrist or psychologist.
How Both TCM And Western Stress Toys Can Help You Find Peace and Calm
When it comes to managing stress, you should try different techniques and remedies to understand what works best for you. Both TCM and Western techniques have their benefits when used correctly and consistently. It’s important to take the time to figure out what your body, mind, and spirit needs.
If you’re looking for more helpful techniques for relieving stress, check back soon for tips and advice.
- American Psychological Association. 2018. Stress effects on the body. [Accessed 10 January, 2022]
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