Our bodies are communicating with us all the time. We hold our emotions in our bodies – ever get a “gut feeling?” Or, have you ever had “butterflies in the stomach?” What about “the weight of the world on your shoulders?” If we remember to tune in, our bodies can tell us a lot about what’s going on – sometimes even before we realize there’s a problem.
And, if we take heed and release tension or breathe into the spaces in our bodies that feel tight, tense or stressed, we can clear our heads and find solutions to what’s causing the tension in our bodies.
When you’re working on a big project, or seated in a compressed position for a long time, or just enduring a stressful situation, take a few breaks and check in with your shoulders. If they are feeling tight, or tense, here are 5 things you can do to relieve that tension:
1. Sit tall and breathe – begin by sitting up nice and tall, feet flat on the floor. Take 3 deep breaths, and on your exhales, see if you can just let the shoulders release a little bit – let go of any gripping or tension that you’re feeling.
2. Roll the shoulders out – First roll in one direction, then the other. Match your breathing to the rolling of the shoulders. For example, inhale on the way up, exhale on the way down. Go as fast or slow as you want. Do this for 3 to 5 cycles.
3. Stretch between the shoulder blades – Take your arms straight out in front of you and clasp your hands. Round the spine as you press through the shoulder blades, allow your head to drop forward. Take 3 deep, long breaths right into the space between the shoulder blades. Allow that space to open and release.
4. Stretch the outside of the shoulders – Reach both arms straight out in front of you. Grab your right wrist and pull your right arm across your chest and over to the left. Keep the right shoulder down, and feel a stretch in the outside of that shoulder. Switch sides.
5. Relax the neck – Let the head drop forward toward the chest. Relax the back of the neck. Breathe into the space at the back of the neck, where the neck meets the shoulders. Then, roll the right ear to the right shoulder. Breathe into the left side of the neck. Drop the head back down for a breath, and then roll the left ear to the left shoulder stretching the right side.
Hold these stretches for as long as you like. Make sure you keep your breath long and even. Before you jump back into your day, take a few more deep breaths to relax and clear your head.