I am recently married. Today, my husband and I are at the doctor’s office for a procedure, and I notice a familiar sensation occurring. My muscles are slightly tensing, I feel my shoulders climbing up to my ears and I am holding my breath more than breathing. I know that if I change my physiology, I can change the biochemical reactions occurring in my body.
Where to begin? I like to start with the breath. Place one hand on the belly and one hand on the chest. Now breathe into the lower hand, see the abdomen move with each inhalation and exhalation. With each breath, I try and extend the exhalation. This increases the parasympathetic stimulation, leading to more relaxation. While staying present in the moment, my awareness of the breath helps to slow my breathing rate down.
Next, I gently release my shoulder tension. One way to release the tension is through progressive muscle relaxation. Start with tensing the shoulders up all the way to the ears, and then letting go, letting them both drop. This can be done with all the muscle groups in my body, one by one. Scrunch up all the muscles in your face and then relax them. Do this through all the muscle groups one by one on each side of the body. Tense the muscles, then relax.
Another area warranting attention is my thoughts. Can I just notice I am having thoughts and then let them go without having to analyze them? Letting the thoughts come and go without being attached is a wonderful way to let go of tension and just be present.
These simple practices ease the tension of stress on the body and mind. They can be accessed as simply as noticing the breath.
Dr Mealani Rahmer is a trained in biofeedback and practices out of Hilo HI.
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