Stress isn't just in your head. It manifests itself in your body in the form of knotted muscles, painful digestion, troubled sleep, and worse. To deal with such chronic discomfort, you need to have a biological bag of stress-busting tricks. Read on for fast ways to relax any part of your body as soon as tension strikes.
Above The Shoulders
FLEX YOUR FACE
Scrunch tightly (grimace like someone is about to drop something on your toes) for 15 seconds, then release. Repeat several times. This repetitive contraction and relaxation helps relieve any strain that you're holding above the neck.
MELT AWAY MUSCLE TIGHTNESS
The yoga move called Thread the Needle opens your upper back and shoulders. Start out on your hands and knees, palms under your shoulders. Exhaling, slide your right arm along the floor under your left arm, palm down, lowering your right shoulder to the floor. Rest your right ear and cheek on the floor. To deepen the stretch, try bending your left elbow as low as you comfortably can. Hold for 30 seconds, then come back to the starting position on your hands and knees; switch sides. (If you are interested in learning more about yoga, click here).
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SUCK IT UP
Deep breathing stimulates your vagus nerve, which calms your brain and your stress response. When you exhale, suck your belly button toward your spine to push your diaphragm up so you empty all the air in your lungs. Then inhale deeply; it brings a chemical called nitric oxide from the back of your nose and sinuses into your lungs. This naturally occurring gas dilates the air passages in your lungs and the blood vessels surrounding them so that more oxygen reaches every nook and cranny inside your body.
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SHOW YOUR LEGS SOME LOVE
Downward-Facing Dog stretches your legs and energizes your whole body. Begin on your hands and knees, with your palms shoulder-width apart and feet hip-width apart. Tuck your toes under. While inhaling, lift your knees off the floor and straighten your legs, lifting your hips back and up. Spread out your fingers, pressing your palms flat on the floor. Keep your neck relaxed. Draw your heels toward the floor. Hold for 30 seconds, then release back down to the starting position while exhaling.
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Hands & Feet
LET YOUR FINGERS DO THE FIXING
Developed in China thousands of years ago, acupressure helps you reduce muscular stress by pressing different specific points on your body with your fingers. To relieve tension, take the thumb and index finger of one hand and apply a pinching pressure to the soft, fleshy web between the thumb and the index finger of your other hand. (Is stress tearing your life apart day by day? Here are more stress relieving techniques to help get your life back).
HEAL, FROM HEEL TO TOE
A good foot rub elevates levels of oxytocin (a feel-good hormone) and causes arousal. Whether you're giving or receiving, first clean the feet with a warm washcloth. Then use a soothing, lavender-scented lotion on both of them. Taking one foot at a time, start with the heel and push up toward the leg, then pull the heel down and work it from side to side. Apply firm, slow pressure with your thumbs on the sole, and then knead the entire foot. Pull each toe for 10 seconds, then move the foot around passively to relax the ankle joint. When both feet are done, rub the calves from ankles to knees.