Reflexology is based on the concept that every part of the body is connected by energy pathways which end in reflex areas on the feet, the hands and the head.
When pressure is applied to these areas, it stimulates the movement of energy along the nerve channels, and helps to restore balance in the body.
Reflexology is the practice of working with these reflexes in a precise and systematic way.
Working on the feet is especially beneficial in clearing and balancing the body, and stimulating the body’s own healing energies.
Reflexology for improved mental wellbeing
Reflexology can contribute to mental health by stimulating and balancing the nervous, endocrine and lymphatic systems, and encouraging a release of the feel-good hormones ‘endorphins’, which help to relieve stress. It can also improve circulation and improve detoxification.
Reflexology has been shown to help with:
- Anxiety, stress and tension McVicar, A. J., Greenwood, C. R., Fewell, F., D’Arcy, V., Chandrasekharan, S. and Alldridge, L. C. (2007). Evaluation of anxiety, salivary cortisol and melatonin secretion following reflexology treatment: A pilot study in healthy individuals. [online] Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 13 (3), pp. 137-45. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17631256 [accessed 12 Sept. 2017].
- Sleep issues
- Depression Oh, H. S. and Ahn, S. A. (2006). The Effects of Foot Reflexology on Pain and Depression of Middle-aged Women with Osteoarthritis. [online] Korean Journal of Rehabilitation Nursing, 9 (1), pp. 25-33. Available at: https://www.koreamed.org/SearchBasic.php?RID=0116KJRN/2006.9.1.25&DT=1 [accessed 12 Sept. 2017].
- Post-partum depression Choi, M. S. and Lee, E. J. (2015). [Effects of Foot-Reflexology Massage on Fatigue, Stress and Postpartum Depression in Postpartum Women]. [online] Journal of Korean Academy Nursing, 45 (4), pp. 587-94. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26364533 [accessed 12 Sept. 2017]. http://www.alternativementalhealth.com/reflexology-and-mental-health/
Areas to focus on for improved mental wellbeing
Treating particular reflexology points which correspond to particular areas of the body can be especially beneficial to mental wellbeing.
The adrenal glands regulate stress hormones in the body. In stressful situations and chronic stress, they can overproduce epinephrine, keeping your body on alert. When overstimulated over a long period of time, this can deplete energy stores, so it is important to work on these to calm the nervous system and restore balance.
Working on the areas that correspond to the brain can ease anxiety and promote calmness.
Working on the colon can be particularly helpful when anxiety affects the digestive system and colon
The pineal gland helps control the cycle of waking up and falling asleep. Reflexology can work on balancing the pineal gland if stress or disrupted circadian rhythms are adversely affecting our sleep patterns.
The pituitary gland in the brain is stimulated with high anxiety and stress. Working on this area can be helpful to balance the body’s hormone responses during stressful times.