Relax your shoulders

Stress can be carried in the body as physical tension.

Have you ever noticed your shoulders and neck feeling tight after a day of work or a restless night of sleep? This could be the result of a new physical activity, a bad mattress or pillow or even stress. There are many ways that stress can play a part in our lives. One of those ways is to show itself physically. Tight muscles, headache and stomach ache are just to name a few. If we continue to allow the stress to affect us, eventually our health could be affected in many ways.

It is most beneficial to recognize stress before it becomes a problem. By recognizing what causes stress in your life, you can apply tools to help alleviate the stress. Stress cannot be eliminated from our lives, but incorporating ways to relax the stress and better manage it will help you be healthier.

Remember, when incorporating a new tool into your life or a change, try it for two weeks before deciding whether it works or not. Included below, is a shoulder lift relaxation exercise designed to help alleviate tense shoulders and help your body relax more.

Shoulder lift (from The Powerful Tools for Caregiving Program)

  • Find a quiet place and get into a comfortable position-
  • First roll your shoulders slowly forward and up to your ears to the count of five. Hold. Then roll your shoulders slowly to your back and downward to the count of five. Practice this twice before adding in deep breathing. It can be done alone or with the deep breathing.
  • Next, add in the deep breathing by moving your shoulders forward and upward, breathe in slowly through your nose. When you roll your shoulders back and downward, breathe out slowly through your mouth. You may close your eyes if you wish.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose and lift your shoulders to a count of five. Hold. Breathe out slowly through your mouth and roll your shoulders back and downward to a count of five. Do this three times.
  • This is a relaxation tool that doesn’t get at the cause of stress but can provide a physical release from the tension caused by it. This exercise is a tool that can be used almost anywhere and at any time.

When using relaxation tools try to follow these guidelines:

  • Find a quiet place
  • Get into a comfortable position
  • Keep your muscles relaxed
  • Breathe deeply

Spending only a few minutes of your time to take care of your body can mean a healthier you. For more information about healthy lifestyles, please visit Michigan State University Extension

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