Welcome to Week Twelve!
How did you get on with ‘smiling mindfully’ last week?
How did that feel?
How about sharing how you got on – any questions, any insights – over at the forum?
This week we’re moving on to one of my favourite stress-busters, which can also be a really lovely mindfulness technique, as you allow yourself to experience releasing old tension and letting go – physically and at a deeper level. And you can do it, in under 60 seconds, pretty much anywhere (ok, perhaps apart from the middle of your annual appraisal!).
One of the most simple things you can do to de-stress is to get more oxygen flowing to your brain. And you can do it mindfully, to help you really notice the difference it makes.
Stress leads to poor posture and stiff shoulders. Anything that we do (or think!) that causes tension in the upper back, the neck or the shoulder area will restrict the oxygen – the blood flow – to your brain, making it harder to concentrate and making you feel tired and even more stressed, as well as potentially leading to long-term health problems.
It also tends to lead to you clenching your jaw and even tensing your eyebrows, all of which makes you feel tired and more stressed.
Your shoulders creep upwards, as tension and stress levels rise, until they’re half-way to your ears, like a pair of massive dangly earrings.
This mindfulness exercise releases upper back, neck and shoulder tension. It feeds your brain with its life-force: oxygen. It gives you more clarity of thinking and it brings you back to the present moment, by connecting your breathing with the physical movement.
And it might even bring a smile to your face!
Here’s How To Mindfully Stop Wearing Your Shoulders As Earrings
If you have shoulder or upper back or neck problems, be really gentle doing this exercise and be sure to protect your body. You know where your comfortable movement range lies. If this means you can’t do this technique in full, that’s not a problem – visualise or imagine it instead and you will still feel the benefits.
- Become aware of your posture – how are you sitting right now?
‘Where’ are your shoulders? Are they hanging nice and loosely? Or are they half way up to your ears?
- Take three mindful breaths from Week 1.
- Gently (within your own comfort levels) lengthen your spine.
Imagine there is a string from the crown of your head gently lifting up, pulling all the way through your spine. It’s about subtly lengthening the space between each vertebra until you feel the lift, all the way through the neck to the crown of the head.
And then tuck your chin under slightly, which lengthens the back of your neck. Can you feel the difference already?
- And now, as you breathe in, really lift your shoulders up as close to your ears as you can get them, both at the same time.
Give them a good squeeze and hold it for a few seconds (keep it safe and comfortable!).
Allow yourself to be fully aware of the physical sensations.
- Now give a big sigh as you release your shoulders.
Just let them drop. Does that feel good?
Do it again! Pull your shoulders up to your ears as you breathe in… and sigh as you let them drop. And one more time, breathe in as you lift your shoulders, scrunching them up to your ears, then sigh as you let them drop.
- Next, doing this within your safe comfort limits, roll your shoulders forward, lift them up and roll them behind you in a circle. Do that two or three times just to release the tension in all of the muscles in that area. And you might find that you want to reverse directions a few times.
- To finish off, give yourself a mindful shoulder and neck rub. And smile.
Can you feel how much clearer your mind feels? Can you feel how much more relaxed you feel? And it was just a few moments of mindfully releasing shoulder and neck tension.
Mindful movement is a great way to release physical tension – and to cut your stress levels.
How about sharing how you got on – any questions, any insights – over at the forum? And I’m curious: what do you find makes your shoulders most likely to creep upwards and pretend to be earrings?
Are you wearing your shoulders as earrings?
That’s all for now! I hope you have a great week. It would be lovely to hear how you’re getting on.
P.S. Any techy questions? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to get help from a member of my team. Thanks!
P.P.S. Missed a week? Want to revisit any of the techniques? You’ll find a list of all your current modules here: www.ClareJosa.com/members-only