Have you heard of Access Bars? Nope, me neither. It’s a new wellbeing/clear your mind kind of treatment that’s grown in popularity in Australia and the US, but is brand new to the UK. And seeing as I LOVE any kind of new hooha like that, when I was offered the chance to try it out recently, I was IN.
What are Access Bars?
Access Bars is a treatment involving light touch to various points around the head. The aim is to help reduce stress and promote a sense of space and calm in the brain. Aficionados refer to this as ‘getting your Bars run’. A typical session can be anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes.
This video shows how it’s done
I am currently writing a book about how to be calm, so this is right in my wheelhouse. I was very curious to see how effective such a simple treatment would be. It’s been very well established that human touch is a great stress reliever – this is why hugging can really calm you down. But can simply touching 32 points on the head in turn really make a meaningful difference to how you feel? I went along to find out.
My experience of an Access Bars treatment
My session lasted 45 minutes. I would liken it to an acupressure massage, except the touch is lighter and the practitioner doesn’t move their hands whilst they’re touching you. Instead they place their fingers on various points of the head and hold them there for a few seconds before moving on. You lie flat on a massage table and close your eyes. It’s kind of strange, very gentle and respectful. You might nod off. Possibly I did because it felt like the time went by very quickly.
The session was conducted by a very nice practitioner called Jared, who commented afterwards “That was a deep one – you really needed to relax.” A fair observation of my state of mind. It had been a busy week. I was advised to listen to my body afterwards, especially if it seemed to be craving any particular food or drink.
Afterwards I did feel deeply, deeply relaxed – almost quite spacey and out of it. I left the London hotel where the treatment took place and the noise of the traffic outside was kind of painful. My feet automatically took me to the park across the road and I sat down and watched the squirrels for a while. I slept incrediby well that night, though by that point I had been on the wine, since as it turned out, the thing that my body was craving was a large glass of red.
Research has compared the positive neurological effects of Access Bars to that experienced after deep meditation. Another study found that one session improved anxiety and depression symptoms by over 80%. I do think that as a treatment it could do with a bit more robust, independent science behind it. But still, these are impressive results.
I can see it being a good one to go for if you are feeling particularly run down or overwhelmed, since you get a very deep shot of relaxation very quickly. It’s like the effects of having an incredibly good night’s sleep, the sort you almost never have as an adult in today’s world.
Clearly this is going to be far too woo for many people, but I’m pretty openminded to stuff like this. If it helps people feel more positive and able to deal with life, that’s all good.
Find out more
*This treatment was provided free of charge for the purposes of review.