Short Relaxation Exercises to Reduce Stress

It seems that Mindfulness has become almost a household word, I am seeing it everywhere!  That’s for a good reason, as mindfulness practices, including relaxation and meditation have been proven to help a myriad of chronic symptoms that we all deal with daily, such as stress, anxiety, insomnia, upset stomach, headaches and much more.

Here are a couple of simple exercises to help you get a taste of what mindfulness is all about:

  1. Hold up your left hand with your fingers spread wide.  With your right index finger, begin to trace (touching the skin) the outside of the thumb, then inside, then up the side of the index finger….(this should feel familiar if you ever made a picture of a turkey by tracing your hand on a piece of construction paper when you were a child) – keep tracing until you reach the outside of the pinky finger, and then go back the other way – from the pinky toward the thumb.  Each time your tracing goes UP a finger, breathe in.  When your tracing goes DOWN a finger, breathe out.  This is a simple exercise that can be done anywhere, anytime.  It’s great for children, but adults can benefit too.
  2. Close your eyes and take a couple of breaths.  Imagine that you can see someone standing before you that is a person in your life you really have appreciation for.  Now imagine that with your breath and with your heart you can send that appreciation toward that person. You might even imagine saying “thank you.  I appreciate you.”   Stay with that for 3-5 minutes or longer.  Perhaps you can sense a shift in your breathing, or feel warmth or openness around your heart.   When you’re ready, take a couple more deep breaths, allowing the image of the person to fade away as you send them another breath of thanks.  Open your eyes and look around the room.  Notice what you feel in your body, your heart, your mind.

If you’re interested in learning more, please ask me about Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, an 8-week class that delves into this topic much more deeply.