Stress can accumulate in our body without our realizing it, affecting the way we hold ourselves and influencing how we feel both emotionally and physically. During difficult times like these, it’s important to release stress regularly in order to feel your best. Try this quick stress-release exercise (C.A.L.M.) from Mindful.org to reset your mind and body each day.
Take deep breaths that fill and expand your chest and torso. Try to regulate your breathing until it’s steady and even. Tense your chest and torso and hold the tension for a few seconds, paying attention to what it feels like, then relax your muscles and enjoy the sensation while you continue to breathe in and out.
Lift your shoulders, then let them drop. Starting with your fingers, work your way up your arms. If you feel tension in any area, recognize it, then relax your muscles. Then, just as you did with your chest, clench your fists and tense your arms for a few breaths, then release the tension and savor the feeling of relaxation.
Focus on your hips first, then work slowly downward, all the way to your feet. Let each section of your legs relax and go still. Once you’ve done this, gently squeeze the muscles in your feet, calves, and thighs, feeling the tension before releasing it.
Last of all, pay attention to your mouth. This is an expressive feature that often communicates a lot of what we’re feeling without us even knowing it. As you relax your mouth, you can also do the same for your neck, jaw, or other areas that feel like they need it. Now, clench your jaw and purse your lips to bring tension into them. Feel what that’s like, then release, allowing your mouth to relax again.
You can do this stress-release exercise at any time of the day, multiple times a day if you need to. Whether you’re sitting at your desk dealing with a hard workday, or lying in bed trying to let go of the day’s worries so you can drift off to sleep, a quick mindfulness exercise like this can help you let go of stress so that you can feel centered and well.