Without a doubt, allergies can make you and your little one miserable -- not to mention wipe out your tissue supply. Fortunately, it's possible to reduce the congestion, stress and headaches with the right touch: Massage can relieve these symptoms by improving circulation, lessening anxiety and releasing muscle tension.
Case in point: Researchers from The Ohio State University found that allergy sufferers had more severe -- and lengthy -- attacks under stress. That's where touch can help:
According to a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, massage lowers stress hormones like cortisol and stimulates the immune system.
But there's no need to book a massage every time you're stuffed up. By gently pressing on your acupressure points, or on those of your child, you can safely ease allergy symptoms and return to your usual sunny-day activities within minutes. In other words, in about the same amount of time as it takes to blow your nose. Just follow these six expert moves:
Massage to Ease Allergy Congestion:
1. Place the tips of your index fingers where the inside corners of your eyebrows meet the bridge of your nose. Use gentle pressure, and either hold until you feel a release or massage in slow, small outward circles.
2. Place the tips of your middle fingers just to the side of your nostrils, at the edge of the cheekbone. Hold with gentle pressure or massage in easy outward circles.
Massage to Ease Allergy Headaches:
3. With your middle and index fingers, lightly massage temples (outside corners of your brows, above your cheeks) in a circular motion toward your ears. It’s actually an instinctual reaction to rub this point, and for good reason: It melts away pain.
4. Locate the points where your neck muscles meet the base of the back of your skull, and hold with moderate pressure. Press in an upward direction until the muscles release.
Massage to Ease Stress:
5. Squeeze the fleshy part of the hand between the thumb and index finger. The thumb of the squeezing hand should be on the top side of the hand being squeezed. Hold with moderate pressure and then stroke for a few repetitions, gently pulling out (in the direction away from the wrist).
6. Place your index, middle and ring fingers at the tops of your shoulders and hold. If massaging your child (or another adult), you can also gently squeeze the muscle or rub it along the fibers toward the outside of the shoulder (versus upward, toward the neck).
For all points, hold or massage for 20 seconds to two minutes or until there is a release. The pressure should feel good -- not acutely painful.
One warning: If you or your child has a fever (and congestion from a potential virus or infection), steer clear of massage of any kind, as it increases circulation and could actually worsen the illness. The same goes for inflammation and skin irritations, like a rash.