Stress is a normal part of being human, but sometimes it can get stuck in our bodies and become physical tension. If it’s not released, we can become emotionally stagnated and our systems slow down, causing illness.
Although we can’t avoid stress, there’s plenty we can do to help let go of tension and slow our minds down. We also all respond differently to things that will help. So if one tip below doesn’t work, try another.
Taking 10 minutes out for stretching can help release stored tension. Start with a simple neck and shoulder stretch to release tension that can accumulate overnight. Then move onto a Reclining Spinal Twist to relieve stress in your lower back. Warning - you may hear your back ‘clunking’! Try to hold each stretch for 5 seconds if your muscles hold a lot of tension.
Yoga is also a powerful way to de-stress your mind as well as tone your body, so why not try a session.
Meditation can help break the cycle of physical and psychological tension that can feed on itself. Relaxing the mind also improves blood flow to the muscles so they can move more freely. For extra effect, make stretches a ‘meditation in motion’ by paying close attention to your breath and physical sensations as you go through the movements.
New to meditation? Try these guided meditations to start you off.
Exercise pumps up your endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters and natural painkillers. Any aerobic exercise that gets you breathing deeply will be helpful for releasing tension. Research shows that aerobic activities such as kickboxing which require concentration can be particularly beneficial for stress relief. Plus, any exercise will boost your mood, making you feel better regardless.
Consider joining a group exercise class or team sport to reap the extra benefit of meeting new people. Sharing an experience, or just having a good chat, go a long way to helping release built-up stress and tension.
I do a weekly yoga class and always find that I never breathe so deeply and fully as I do at the end of the class. They are deeply restorative and tension-relieving and I would recommend anyone who suffers from tension to try a class.
oh boy do I need these after a day dealing with courier companies! If only yoga could tell me where my parcel is too...