Try This Genius (Free) Trick to Breathe Better with a Cold

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A couple of months ago, I had a terrible cold—you know, one of those real shockers where you lie down and can't breathe; the only thing you can think about is how to unblock your nose. Ever the optimist, I hadn't bought any Vicks nasal spray, my go-to for relieving blocked sinuses whenever a cold strikes. But late into the night, in a fit of frustration, I did what we all do: I turned to Google for advice.

During my frantic search, I came across the alternative treatment that is acupressure massage. The theory goes that we all have energy flowing through different meridians within our bodies. Much like in acupuncture (but without the needles), light pressure is applied to different points on the body to clear blockages. Guided by what I read, I started pressing and massaging around my nose, on my head and around my neck until, quite miraculously, my sinuses opened, and I could breathe! It lasted long enough for me to fall into a much-needed slumber.

The technique

To save you the time of rooting around online during those desperate early hours, I called on Darren Rose, a master of Chinese medicine, to share a simple and effective five-minute acupressure massage that will clear your sinuses and help you breathe easy, whether you're suffering from a hefty cold or an annoying bout of hay fever. Keep scrolling for your guide to clearing a blocked nose—fast.

Point 1: Yingxiang

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This is the number one point for unblocking your nose and clearing the sinuses; its name translates as "welcome fragrance," and it restores not only our sense of smell but also our ability to breathe freely. To get the most from this point, use both hands at the same time. Place a light-to-medium pressure on the point, which you can easily find in the small depression formed by the bones to the side of the nose. Make very small circular motions with your fingertip for at least one minute, or continue until you feel your sinus start to clear.

Point 2: Renzhong

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This point has a great effect on clearing the nose, with the added benefit of making us feel relaxed, helping to calm our minds as well. This is a powerful point and can sometimes feel sensitive to strong touch, so there is no need to be so gung-ho with this one! Place one finger on the point, and keep a gentle but firm pressure for up to one minute. Repeat as often as necessary.

Point 3: Shenting

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You can find this point just behind the start of the hairline. Its name translates as "courtyard of heaven" and implies it will clear all blockages in the head. We can use this point to clear the nose and all other sensations of stuffiness in the head, whether from a cold or hay fever.

To activate this point, you need to rub it backward and forward in a small motion with a medium pressure for a minimum of one minute.

Point 4: Fengchi

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These are easy points to find. Just feel for the most sensitive point within the hollow where the head meets the neck on both sides. These are great points for the nose, but they also have the ability to clear all of the sensory organs of the head. So it will help with other symptoms relating to colds or hay fever, like headaches, red itchy eyes, and blocked ears as well. The best way to activate these points is using both thumbs at the same time. It’s easy to do sitting or standing, but for the most relaxing approach, try it lying down.

Point 5: Yintang

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Imaxtree

This point is located directly between the eyebrows and in the area ascribed as the location of the third eye in some cultures. We can use it to treat any form of nasal blockage or runny nose, and because of its connection to the spirit in Chinese medicine, it also has a powerful effect on feelings of stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Again, place a medium pressure on this point for a minute, or until you feel your blocked nose easing up. Before trying this massage, we recommend taking a bath with Kneipp Eucalyptus Cold & Flu Mineral Bath Salt ($20).

This post was originally published on Byrdie UK.