Has stress got your forehead wrinkling, your jaw clenching and your shoulders perpetually shrugged to your ears? Chronic stress does more than deepen worry lines and tighten tense shoulders. Chronic stress is a main contributor to issues like overweight and obesity, emotional eating, sleep disorders and social anxiety. As well, chronic stress is a contributor in serious illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, depression, and hypertension. A regular stress reduction program including yoga, and meditation certainly help…but what techniques can you bring into your daily life to help to overcome the chronic and acute stresses that you face every day?

These simple exercises are a Do It Yourself Spa and take just 5 minutes. Use them at the office, in-flight, or at home to help relax, rejuvenate, and become more proactive rather than reactive to the circumstances in life.
So, just take a moment right now…yes…why not now? And take a few deep breaths, and just follow these simple exercises to bring a little rest and relaxation to your day.

Shoulder Shrugs
Take a moment to sit comfortably in your chair. Shrug your shoulders up to your ears, and then roll then down and back, sending your shoulders deep down into your body. Practice a few shrugs and circles up and down to warm and release tight muscles.

Neck Massage
With the first three fingers of your right hand, find the large muscle on the left side of your neck just under the ear. Gently massage down that muscle (find that it runs down into your collarbone) and then massage along the top of your shoulders all the way to the point of the shoulder. Imagine that you are gathering up in your fingers all your tension, tightness and pressure, and when you reach the end of the shoulder simply “flick” the tension out of your fingers and let it dissolve. Practice three times on each side.

Instant Facial
To release tight facial muscles, place the first three fingers of each hand on the inner edge of each eyebrow. With the same technique as above, gently massage across the eyebrow, down through the temples, across the jaw all the way to the point of the chin. “Flick” the tension from your fingers and move back to the eyebrows, this time a little above the point where you first began. Repeat 3 or 4 times, massaging up the forehead with each repetition.

Eye Palming
Computer work, fluorescent lighting and lack of sleep can all cause tiredness and soreness in the eyes. To relax tired or strained eyes rub your hands briskly together to generate heat between the hands. Place your warmed palms over your eyes and feel the healing heat energy penetrate into your eyes and your mind, soothing tiredness and strain. Repeat 2-3 times if you like.

Grounding Breath
Often the hectic pace of the workplace can make us feel “ungrounded” and anxious. Taking a few moments to calm the mind and the nervous system some simple deep breathing can be all it takes to relax, refocus, and achieve a clarity of mind that can make you more productive, proactive, and pro-health! Simply close your eyes, place your hand on your belly and take a few deep breaths, drawing the breath down into your hand. This will relax the tension in the chest and solar plexus, relax the digestive system, and increase the flow of oxygen throughout the body and mind.

First Published in the Mind Body Messenger newsletter 2006

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