Have you ever had one of those awful tension headaches brought on by stress?
It starts at the back of your neck and spreads like wildfire through your entire head. These headaches are brutal, they can last for hours or even days, and can have a massively negative effect on how the rest of your body feels. Suddenly it goes from tension in your head to tension in your shoulders, your back, your hips and so on through your body!
Even if you’re among the lucky ones who have never had a tension headache, you may be familiar with some of the other effects of stress: weight gain, fatigue, anxiety, panic attacks, stomach upsets, quick temper, foggy thinking, making snap judgments and decisions, and insomnia. Stress can wreak havoc on the body.
But what if all this can be helped or even avoided with a few simple relaxation exercises?
Employing relaxation exercises that relieve stress knots in your neck, shoulders, and back can provide gentle relaxation for your whole body. These exercises do not require much physical exertion, making them suitable for everyone.
Simple Relaxation Exercises For Quick Relief
1. Put your legs on a chair.
Place a chair in a fairly open space. Lie next to the chair with your back flat on the floor and place your legs across the seat cushion of the chair. Make sure the bend in your knees is right up next to the side of the chair. Keep your arms extended out from my body, allowing a slight stretch and openness in those muscles.
Breathe deeply and slowly while feeling your body letting go of tension. Focus on how your muscles physically relax now that the strain of your body is off of them.
2. Place your bottom against the wall.
Move up to a wall and lie with a flat back on the floor. Extend your legs straight up the wall making sure that your bottom stays as close to the wall as you can possibly get it and that the small of your back is flat against the floor. If your back is arching, you might be straining the muscles, causing the exercise to not be as effective.
Keep the arms outstretched away from the body. This particular position will help with your blood flow between all of your organs and limbs. It also relieves tension in the lower back, and will reduce any swelling in the legs that comes from being on them for long periods during the day.
3. Pull your knees to the chest.
Lie on your back and gently pull your knees into your chest. Rest your hands on your shins for stability. This will stretch out your lower back and relieve tension in the spine. If holding your knees to your chest is not relaxing you and is causing more strain on you, then simply lie with your knees bent as close to your chest as possible, laying your arms either at your side, over your chest or underneath your thighs where they meet your belly.
Close your eyes and concentrate on breathing fully and slowly. Gentle, slow breaths will help keep your body from tensing up in this position.
4. Use a blanket log.
Find an open place on the floor where you can stretch out fully. Roll a blanket or large towel into a log shape and place it on the floor so that when you lie down, the blanket is lined up with your spine. Sit on the lower edge of the blanket and carefully lie back — you’ll want your arms out to the side for stability.
While you will have a few moments of feeling unbalanced, the exercise will do several things: fully engage your mind (you can’t be thinking about your worries when you’re trying to balance on the blanket log) and it will open your chest, which tends to compress when you’re in a stress situation.
That’s a primal self-defense mechanism where you protect your chest (heart) from danger. Lying on the blanket log will stretch and open your chest muscles. If your days are spent sitting in a desk or hunched over a computer this is the ultimate relaxation exercise for you.
5. Meditate lying down.
Of course avoid doing this if you’re sleepy, otherwise “meditation” will become another word for “great nap”! Choose a time of day when you are feeling relatively energetic and can escape for a few minutes — just 15 minutes of “me time” will do wonders.
Choose the Omharmonics track that is most soothing to you, and if your headphone cords allow, lie on the floor or on a couch next to the stereo (or download your Omharmonics tracks to an iPod).
While you’re meditating, relax your muscles, from head to toe. Visualize and feel each muscle relaxing bit by bit as your stress melts away. If you can’t find a place to lie down that’s near a stereo and you don’t want to listen on your iPod, you can do this without Omharmonics too — focus on systematically relaxing each muscle.
Don’t let your attention wander away from that wonderful feeling.
It can be hard to keep stress and tension from becoming chronic, but if you make regular use of these simple exercises you can keep your stress in check.
It is up to you to manage your stress and tension levels so that they do not end up managing you, so be sure not to feel guilty about taking a break in the middle of a busy day! You need it!
You may be so used to hectic days and high levels of tension that you don’t even notice just how negatively they affect you. Stress does affect everyone, either on a subtle or obvious level, so be sure to manage stress even if you have no outward symptoms and you feel that stress does not bother you.
Make good use of these relaxation exercises to prevent stress from being chronic and to release the stress your body holds.