Rope knotWorry. It’s the force behind that knot in your stomach, the clenching of your jaw, your trouble falling asleep and the furrow in your brow. You know it’s not accomplishing anything, but your mind resists getting off the hamster wheel.

How can you change the channel? Turns out, there are points for that. The Stomach and Spleen are responsible for digesting not only our food, but our lives: absorbing what’s useful, letting that nourish us, and passing on the not-so-useful stuff to the Large Intestine so we can let it go. Worry is the mental equivalent of sluggish digestion, or chewing on the same thing over and over again without swallowing. Just as there are points to aid digestion, there are points to help dissolve the mental knots. Here are three:

SP 5

Spleen 5

Spleen 5 is the point to use when your compassionate heart leads to a worried mind and you can’t stop thinking about the problems your friend (or your kid, or co-worker) is facing, even though you know there’s nothing you can do to change their situation. This is empathy gone astray. First, summon some compassion for yourself – it’s tough to watch someone you love go through something hard. Then, find the point on the inner foot, just below and in front of the bony bump on the ankle. Press this point firmly with your thumb, and massage in circles for a minute while thinking to yourself “I let go.”

Lung 7

Lung 7 is the go-to point to help clear your mind of worry. Like the breath itself, this point helps anchor us to the present moment rather than projecting into a future that may never come to pass. Take a long, slow breath and massage Lung 7 – Make a “thumbs up”, and HT 5 and LU 7locate the point about an inch towards your elbow from the thumb/wrist crease.

Heart 5

Tap Heart 5 when you’re worried about what you’re going to say. This point helps you express what’s in your heart, so it’s especially useful for speaking your truth, confronting someone, or having to say “no.” Located on the inner wrist, one thumb-width up from the inner crease, just inside the tendon that leads to the pinky. Tap this point gently for 30-60 seconds, visualizing raindrops striking and bouncing up from a puddle at the point.

Changing your relationship with stress is the most powerful thing you can do for your health. If you’re ready to revamp your nervous system for more ease and confidence, check out your bodymind toolkit:

 Calm Yourself: Self-Care Strategies for Stress and Anxiety





Meditating on a rockWhat do you want to do differently in 2015? Lose weight? Exercise more? Learn to meditate? Write your novel? Resolving to change a behavior requires overcoming the inertia of habit. And even with determination and motivation, the Force of Will is pathetically weak compared to the Force of Habit. Here are 8 ways to leverage your willpower and turn your resolutions into lasting lifestyle changes.


1) Commit to the journey, not the destination

Rather than focusing on an outcome that may or may not be within your control, focus on the path you’ll take to get there. Replace “I want to lose 10 pounds by March 1st” with “I will do five 30-minute workouts a week, cut out white flour, and eat only at mealtimes.” Commit to specific behaviors and put them on your calendar so you know how they fit into your day.


2) Make it small — then scale up

When you set a goal and meet it, you’re proving to yourself that you’re capable of change. That’s motivating! So start with something you know you can do, such as one minute on the treadmill, one minute of conscious breathing, or rolling out your yoga mat. When that seems easy, add another simple step, then another.


3) Do it in the morning

Stress is like kryptonite for good intentions. After a long, hard day, it’s going to be much harder to stick to your plan of working out, painting, writing, meditating, or whatever. Unless your life is utterly serene, you may want to schedule your new thing for early in the day before the stress has a chance to deplete your willpower.


4) Prepare to succeed 

Make it as easy as possible to stick to your goal. Pack your gym bag or lay out your workout clothes the night before. Have the veggies in the fridge and chopped ahead of time so they’re the easy option at the end of a long day at work, when you’re tempted to eat whatever is there. Take time on the weekend to stock your fridge with fresh vegetables or make a big pot of soup for the week ahead.


5) Put it on autopilot

Willpower is puny compared to the force of habit. Hooking your new habit onto something you’re already doing can help transform a new behavior into a routine. Consider what routines are already happening automatically, such as brushing your teeth, eating, making tea, getting up to use the bathroom.  Any of these can serve as cues for things like doing five push-ups; taking 10 deep, mindful breaths; or practicing gratitude. Leveraging your brain’s strategy of taking small routines and turning them into bigger ones can help you fast-track a new habit onto autopilot.


6) Understand your triggers

If you’re trying to break a bad habit, like smoking or consuming too much sugar or alcohol, understanding what’s motivating the behavior will get you farther than simply trying to stop. When you feel tempted to engage in the bad habit, practice pausing and getting curious about what’s happening. When you’re tempted to overeat, are you really needing rest? Or support? Or empathy? Close your eyes and turn your awareness inward. Notice your breath, whatever sensations are happening in your body, your emotions, and what’s going on in your mind. When you’ve identified what’s triggering the habit, substitute a healthier behavior that will give you a similar payoff. Watching your breath for ten cycles can be an excellent way of relaxing your nervous system and enabling you to substitute a more satisfying behavior.


7) Hold yourself accountable

Tell your friends, partner, and colleagues about your goal. Tweet it, take photos of yourself doing it, and post them to Facebook and Instagram. Or if that’s not for you, identify who can hold you accountable (it could be a friend, a coach, or health care provider). Email this person once a week and tell them of your progress. Having even one person who believes in what you’re doing improves your odds of success.


8) Meet slip-ups with curiosity and self-compassion

Nobody’s perfect. When you miss the mark, give yourself compassion for being human. Talk to yourself as you would console a friend who was trying to do something hard.  Self-compassion will actually get you back on track faster than guilt and shame, and it feels way better. Next, get curious as to what derailed you, so you can plan to avoid it next time. Then double down on your goal.


I’ll be cheering you on.



The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg, (Random House Publishing, USA, 2012).

The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why it Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It, Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., (Avery, New York, 2012).

Self-Compassion: the Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, Kristen Neff, Ph.D., (William Morrow, USA, 2011).