08 Nov Squeeze Out Stress
If you feel stress, you are not alone. Far from it. Did you know that stress is one of the major issues facing us these days? It’s true.
This is one of the easiest practices for reducing stress. If you haven’t already done this, there are a couple of guidelines. First, don’t wait for stress symptoms to reach a high level before using this technique. Start early. Secondly, practice often as a way of helping your body learn to relax—even when you don’t think you need it.
- Find a quiet spot where you can sit or recline for up to five minutes. Sometimes it’s helpful to find a place where there is low light or no light—especially if one of your stress symptoms is sensitivity to light.
- To begin, spend a few seconds pressing your heels into the floor or press your hands together if you are lying down. This is just to help you get grounded.
- Take three or four nice, satisfying, deep breaths. Exhale slowly. If you have learned how to do belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, that is the kind of breathing that you will use here.
- Starting at the bottom of the body and moving upward, imagine squeezing all the tension into a ball with your feet as you inhale. Tense both feet (not to the point of pain) but just enough that you feel the tightness and tension. Hold this pose—also holding your in-breath—for a good five seconds, then release the ball of tension in your feet and exhale sloooowwwlyyy for as long as you can. Imagine that you have just squeezed out the stress and tension as your feet relax. Notice how nice it feels to let go of tightness in the feet. Now, inhale, imagining your breath traveling all the way down the body and settling into your feet. As you exhale, feel this part of the body relax even further.
- If you want, take a couple more long inhalations into the feet. With each slow exhalation you can feel the feet relax more and more deeply as any remaining tension or tightness is drained and squeezed out of the body. At this time, you can even smile inwardly at your feet, a part of the body that works hard carrying you around throughout the day.
- Next, you will move your attention up to the ankles, shins, and calves of both legs. Repeat the same squeezing out of the tension as you inhale and hold the tension before exhaling and releasing even more tension until nothing remains. Then, try smiling inwardly at this part of the body in gratitude.
- Little by little you will move up the entire body—tensing and squeezing each part into a ball to push out the stress as you also use your breath to do this. Move from the feet up to the knees, the thighs and hips, the stomach and abdominal area, the back muscles, the hands, the arms (forearm, elbow, upper arms), the neck and shoulders, and finally, the face, skull and scalp. If you are already experiencing pain in a part of the body, such as a headache, then don’t tighten up that area as it may increase the pain or discomfort. Just skip over it.
When you are done, let yourself revel in the deep peace and calm that pervades the body. Spend as long as you want to rest in this way. You may want to send your inner smile to the entire body at this time. Don’t forget to send gratitude to yourself for taking care of your body and managing your stress.
Congratulations on countering stress. How did it feel squeeze out stress in this way? How and when could you practice this so that you can keep stress from building up in the body?