Cooler weather usually finds us tensing our muscles as we guard against the wind and cold. We are less inclined to be as active as we are in summer and start to feel our aches and pains more.
Each of us have our own special storage places in our bodies where we stash our stress. Becoming “body aware” is a powerful way to tap into our physical needs and respond to them in preventative and proactive ways.
Tension is most commonly stored in our neck, head, back, shoulders, jaw and stomach and can cause headaches, lack of clarity and focus. There is strong evidence that suggests that prolonged stress and a lack of awareness of these patterns can lead to a number of chronic health conditions.
Developing skills to become “body aware” helps us to manage how we let stress manifest physically and emotionally in our bodies.
A good way to get started is by asking your Massage Therapist to help you focus on your breathing during your treatment. Fuller, deeper breaths brings more oxygen to your blood and assists in quieting your inner chatter so that you can deeply relax.
A body scan is a mindfulness practice that relieves stress, calms the mind and energizes the body. It’s a good tool to help us identify the places that our tension hides. To begin, get into a comfortable position. Take a few deep breaths in and out. Slowly scan your body from head to toe, continuing to breathe deeply as you bring your attention to each area of your body.
Start with the top of your head and slowly move your head from side to side, then transfer your focus onto your face, eyes, mouth and jaw. If you are feeling tension in your jaw, open and close it a few times. Continue onto your neck and shoulders moving gradually all the way down to your ankles and feet. Throughout this exercise take notice of where you are feeling tension and breathe deeply in and out directing your attention to those areas. Your breath and focus will help to release the stress that is hiding there.
Improving our body mind connection can also help us understand what our bodies need for fuel. Increased awareness often makes us choose healthful foods that are nurturing and nourishing to our bodies.
Getting our body and mind to work in tandem and listening to what we need, such as rest, exercise and relaxation time can help us realize a better quality of life and many more moments of joy. Don’t resist the connection, embrace it!