Yesour emails pile up, Slacks notifications appear, and deadlines loom. Work can put a strain on our brain, but also on our body.
If you feel stressed out, take a moment to do a full body scan. The results may surprise you – do you subconsciously clench your teeth? Are your shoulders tense, pinned up near your ears? What about your forehead, is it wrinkled and your eyes are straining to see your screen better?
If you answered “yes” to any (or all) of the above questions, try a quick somatic relaxation exercise developed by Stephanie Rae, a Chicago-based somatic health practitioner and sex and intimacy trainer. The infographic shared by Rae on her Instagram page, Breathe Burn Rise, offers step-by-step instructions on how to get used to your body and relieve stress and tension in just 60 seconds.
“Save this and use it once a day during your work week!” Rae writes in the caption. “1 minute of confidence can change your whole day / mood.”
Rae’s version is one of many somatic exercises that can help relieve stress and tension that are stored in our body. Similar to somatic exercises – a term used by the late Dr. Thomas Louis Hanna was coined and refers to slow, gentle movements that make us smoother and calmer – these simple exercises force us to listen to our body and breath to relax.
How to reduce stress with a somatic relaxation exercise
1. Start by loosening your jaw – your temporomandibular joint and tension headache will thank you for it. “Our jaws are usually one of the first places we clench,” says Rae. “Bite your teeth and relax. To breathe. Relax more. Breathe again. “
2. Next, move down to your shoulders, dropping them down and back as you move your neck from side to side to release any tension or stiffness.
3. Then shake your hands out, open and close your fists, and stretch your fingers. “Let go of all excess energy!”
4. Then go to your eyes and roll them from side to side, blinking occasionally. Rae says that if we focus or “get into the zone” we can get tunnel vision – literally. “Move your eyes around. Side to side and up and down, ”says Rae. “This helps prevent migraines and tension headaches.”
5. Next, stick your tongue out, which will help you loosen your jaw even more while relaxing other muscles in your face.
6. In the last step, take three deep breaths in your stomach, breathe in and out completely. “This is the fastest way to reconnect with your body and yourself. Notice a clearer mind and less tension almost immediately, ”says Rae.
Emails, slacks, deadlines – they all get taken care of. Give your body and brain a minute off.
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