There is much in our lives that requires mental energy: working on a computer, driving, organising finances and even watching TV to relax asks our mind to pay attention. If you also have a job that is mentally demanding, or you have a tendency to worry, then chances are you will experience mental stress from time to time.
Mental stress shows up in the body in different ways. You may experience headaches, a tight jaw, scalp or shoulders, sore eyes or just a general sense of holding yourself tightly.
Often with clients who are experiencing mental stress, I find that by simply holding the head and being present with them for a few minutes, the body and mind start to let go. For others it can take longer, and they may not relax until towards the end of the massage in Whitchurch or may even find themselves unwinding over the course of the next few days. Either way, by addressing where stress is held in the body, it gives the mind chance to unwind and have some much-needed downtime.
Here’s a few tips you can practise at home that will help you access that state of relaxation:
The hands have reflex and acupressure points on them, and they can also hold a surprising amount of tension. We use them constantly without much thought, and tension here can travel up the arm and into the neck and shoulders.
Giving yourself a gentle hand massage is super relaxing. You can use the thumb and fingers of your other hand, or even your elbow to work around the palm. Between the thumb and forefinger is an acupressure point for let go – massaging this can be very relaxing, as can placing a thumb or finger in the centre of the palm. This connects to the heart meridian and helps if you can’t sleep.
The feet also contain many reflex points, so by massaging your feet, you’re affecting your whole body. It is also very grounding and if you find your energy is collected in your head, it can literally bring it down to earth.
Before bed, take a little of your favourite oil or cream (rose or lavender scented is calming and soothing) and massage the soles of your feet. Finish by holding your feet in your hands and taking a few deep breaths.
We are a very visually-orientated culture and we use our eyes to navigate the world far and above our other senses. If you’ve been concentrating on a particularly stubborn piece of work or driving for a long time, the eyes will feel it.
With eyes closed, place the palms of your hands over your eyes for a few minutes. This provides a dark, restful space, where the eyes aren’t having to process any information. You can then massage the temples at the side of each eye and the bridge of the nose using small circles with your fingers. A great way to unwind after a day at work.
When stressed, our breathing becomes short and higher up in our chest. This can strain our auxiliary breathing muscles that are only meant to be used in an emergency.
Remind your breath it can live lower down in your body. Place your hand on your belly and take a few deep breaths, then breathe naturally for five minutes with your attention there. You could also try holding your ribs to fill up your chest cavity with breath. Try applying a little pressure to your rib cage as you do this, so your breath has work to inhabit this area.
To help ease your upper chest if it’s become strained from stressed breathing, standing with your back to a wall, reach your arm behind you and put your palm flat against the wall, facing up. Face front and you should feel a stretch where your arm meets your chest. Hold for 20-30 seconds and do this 3 times on both sides.
Here’s some relaxation yoga from Darebee.com. If you aren’t experienced with yoga, take great care doing these exercises, or ask for instruction before you try them from a yoga teacher:
This information is designed for use in consultation with a trained massage professional. You attempt without supervision at your own risk, so go gentle and take care.
Main image by Jeshoots.com on Unsplash