Quick Practice: Check Yourself - Your Stress, That Is!
Our bodies are master communicators about the stress in our lives and how it's affecting our physical and mental health. Stress accumulates over time to become something as simple as a crick in our neck or as serious as hypertension.
While this quick check-in method doesn't replace a visit to your doctor, it may help relax you at the end of the day and lessen the pressures that keep your muscles tight.
I like to do this at the end of the day before going to bed.
Take 3-5 deep breaths - more if need be - while focusing only on the feeling of your breath
Become aware of immediate body sensations (do you have a headache? Sour stomach? Muscle cramp?)
Scan from your head all the way to your toes, checking in with each body part as you go. It can be surprising to feel a subtle pressure in your hand or an ache in your low back.
As you find areas that catch your attention, actively breathe and focus on relaxing the muscle tightness. If it doesn't relax easily, that's ok, just make a note. Don't forget to relax the fine muscles of your face, scalp, and behind your eyes!
Stretch or massage the more stubborn areas that don't want to relax. Make a note of anything that comes to mind as you do - your body is trying to tell you what it's feeling stressed about.
Deep breaths again until you feel complete with this exercise and give some gratitude to your body for talking to you.
This process gets easier and smoother with time! You'll begin to really hear and understand the language that your body speaks.