Our lives these days are so busy and hectic that sore muscles and/or a stiff neck are common complaints expressed by many people. When we feel stressed our body produces hormones, which increase the tension in the muscles but also increase our sensitivity to pain. No wonder we feel uncomfortable when stressed. But once you are aware that you body is giving off stress signals you can alleviate stress and tension with these simple tips.
Shoulders and neck
If you spend most of your day behind a desk, chances are that you are not fully aware of your posture. But poor posture can affect your health. For example hunched up shoulders will restrict blood flow to your brain. Make a conscious effort to push your shoulders down, lift the sternum and relax your neck. If your neck feels tight, clasp your hands and bring both palms to the back of your head. While keeping a straight spine, gently press your hands toward your thighs, bringing your chin into your chest. As you press down, use your hands to gently pull your head away from your shoulders.
Some people have a habit of grinding their teeth, clenching their jaws or keeping a lot of tension in their lips when stressed. To relax the jaw, simply part you lips and feel the tension flow away. If you feel that you need more to release the jaw, open your mouth as wide as possible to stretch the muscles. And don’t forget to smile! Smiling relaxes the face muscles and makes you feel happier instantly.
Getting a massage is an excellent way to relax both body and mind. When you experience tightening of your muscles, gently massage them to loosen them up. Especially the muscles between your shoulders and neck benefit from some manual therapy. Add a drop of relaxing massage oil to reduce the friction between your hands and the skin. Select a relaxing fragrance, like our The Ritual of Dao Relaxing Body & Massage Oil with calming white lotus.
Practicing yoga helps the body in many ways, but it’s especially beneficial during times of stress. Yoga encourages you to pay attention to how your body is feeling and to be more mindful. The postures help to restore muscular balance, which can be caused by spending too many hours working behind a desk. Experience it for yourself with one of the yoga routines from our free app here: https://eu.rituals.com/en-nl/app.html
If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you’ll have noticed that yogis always end their yoga practice by chanting ‘om’. It may feel a little awkward at first, but this phrase was specifically chosen for its benefits. This mantra causes slight vibrations in the body which opens up the sinuses and airways. This chant also helps to release tension in the face, neck and upper body.
Don’t forget your hands! Especially when you spend a lot of time at a computer or writing, your hands can cramp and feel tense. Pay extra attention to the spot between the thumb and the index finger. Massage the soft tissue of your palm with the opposite thumb by circling figure eights, applying slight pressure. Squeeze the fleshy part between the thumb and index finger gently to release tightness in the whole hand.
Whenever you experience challenging times or stressful events it is extra important to take a step back and unwind. This will help you alleviate stress and regain your balance. Meditation is a very pleasant way to reconnect with your body and our free app offers several guided meditations to help you feel your best. Try it here: https://eu.rituals.com/en-nl/app.html
Last but not least, take the time to focus on your breathing. Stress causes our breathing pattern to become brief and shallow, does not help the release of tension. Take a few minutes each day to practice proper breathing. Simply place your hands on your stomach and direct your breath towards your palms. Pay extra attention to how you exhale your breath, because breathing out relaxes the body. If you’re in need of deeper relaxation, try our favourite breathing exercises: http://www.enjoythemomentrituals.com/breathing-exercises-for-the-body-mind/