Stressed? Tense? Most of us are. But where to start unwinding?
Try this relaxing and quick body check-in to see what parts of your body could use the most help releasing stress or tension. Then we give you some helpful ways to find fast relief. Itís all here:
You may want to have a friend read this aloud to you, or make an audiotape of yourself reading it, or simply read and remember.
1. Take a few minutes when you know you wonít be disturbed, and sit comfortably with your eyes closed.
2. First bring your attention to the sounds you can hear where you are. Do you hear traffic? Birds singing? The hum of a computer or refrigerator? Just take a moment to notice.
3. Now bring your attention to your breathing. What is it doing? Is it fast or slow or something in between? Deep or shallow or something in between? Just notice what your breathing is doing for a few breaths.
4. Now bring your awareness to your head. Are there any areas of pain there? Notice your forehead, the back of your head, the area behind your eyes. How do these areas feel? Now check in with your jaw. Is it clenched or relaxed? Notice the inside of your cheeks: are there ridges where perhaps you have been biting down during the night? Are the muscles of your face smooth and serene, or do you feel ridged and furrowed?
5. Now bring your awareness to your neck and shoulders. Is there any pain or discomfort there? Are the muscles hard or soft? When you visualize your neck and shoulders, does it feel you are carrying a heavy weight there?
6. Now bring your attention to your arms and hands. Is there any pain or stiffness? Do your arms and hands feel warm and loose or tense and tight? Are you clenching?
7. Bring your awareness now to your torso. How does your chest feel? Are you aware of your heart beating loudly or rapidly? Is there any agitation in your stomach? Does your lower belly feel comfortable or is there pressure or discomfort there? How does your spine feel? Are there any feelings of pain in your lower back or is everything feeling aligned and at ease?
8. Now bring your attention to your legs and feet. Do you feel any tension or pain there or are your legs and feet feeling easy and at rest? Are your feet warm and comfortable or cold and tight?
9. Finally, bring your awareness to your body as one amazing whole. How do you feel? What areas did you sense were holding tension or stress?
If you had tension in your head:
Squinch all your facial muscles as hard as you can, then release (this will include clenching your eyes shut, then opening them wide). Open your mouth and stick out your tongue as far as it will go. Use your fingertips to massage every inch of your scalp. Gently tug down on your earlobes, then tug your ear tips upward.
If you had tension in your neck and shoulders:
Shrug your shoulders up as far toward your ears as they will go, then release. Lean your head straight forward and let it hang down for a count of ten, then raise it slowly. Do a few head circles: Turn your head to face over your right shoulder, then bring your chin down toward your chest, then continue the circle to face over your left shoulder, then lean your head back, then back to the right shoulder again. Now reverse the direction.
If you had tension in your arms and hands:
Shake your hands rapidly. Clench and release your fingers. Raise your arms over your head and reach high with your right hand, then reach high with your left hand, alternating hands for several reaches. Reach your arms straight out at shoulder height to either side, lean your head back, brig your hands together over your head, then back to your sides while lowering your head.
If you had tension in your torso:
Concentrate on making your belly softer with each breath you take. Breathe in slowly, hold for a moment, breathe out slowly, then hold for a moment. See how long you can make your in-breaths and out-breaths.
If you had tension in your legs and feet:
Try taking off your shoes and wriggling your toes. Alternately point and spread your toes. Clench and unclench them. Roll a few marbles underneath your feet. Make small circles in the air with your feet. Jump up and down a few times. Do a few deep-knee bends, then rise up on your tiptoes a few times.