If you don’t have time to step away from your desk and relax for 20 minutes or more but would still benefit from bursts of stress relief and relaxation, the following short Sophrology exercises could do the trick.
Repeat regularly and notice the improvement on your wellbeing, a more relaxed body, a calmer and more focused mind.
1 – Micro-breaks
Length: 2 minutes
Position: Sitting down
Every hour, take a 2 minute break. Close your eyes, sit with your back straight against your chair, hands on your lap and feet flat on the floor. Bring your awareness into your body. Scan your body bit by bit and release any unnecessary muscular tension. Start with your head and face, relax your scalp, the muscles of your face, and unclench your jaw. Move onto your neck, relax your shoulders and your arms. Let go of tension around your chest, your abdomen, and your whole back. Relax your hips, your thighs, knees, calves, feet and toes. When your whole body is relaxed, move your awareness to your breathing. Breathe mindfully for a moment, taking slow deep breaths from your abdomen. Let your body relax a bit more on each out-breath. When you feel ready to come back to the room, slowly start moving and stretching your whole body and open your eyes.
2 – Upper body shake
Length: 3 minutes
Position: Standing up
This is a very good exercise to release any tension held in your upper body, neck and shoulders.
Stand up and if you can, close your eyes. Quickly scan your body and notice where you are holding unnecessary tension. Try and release that tension as much as you can. Bring your awareness to your neck, shoulders and arms. Clench your fists, take a breath in, hold your breath and start shrugging your shoulders up and down. When you can’t hold your breath any more, breathe out (as loudly as you want) and relax your arms along your body, drop your shoulders. Repeat another couple of times and be aware of your body sensations throughout this whole exercise. Before coming back to the room and getting on with the rest of your day, take a few seconds to notice how you are feeling in your body.
An alternative to this exercise is to rotate your upper body from left to right, letting your arms sway freely from one side to the other. As you do this exercise, you can even start shaking your whole body; as if you wanted to shake off the excess of energy and tension.
3 – Your calming place, word or colour
Length: 5 minutes
Position: Sitting down
Sit comfortably with your back resting against the chair and your feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes. Start with a micro-break, releasing tension in your body and breathing mindfully. This little routine helps preparing your body and mind, making your whole self available for the exercise that follows. When you feel relaxed, let an image of a calming place arise in your consciousness (a place you’ve been to before or an imaginary place); the image of a place that makes you feel calm and relaxed. Imagine yourself as if you were there, connecting with your 5 senses. Pay attention to the colours, the temperature, the sounds, the smell, etc. Feel the presence of your body in this place. When you feel calm and relaxed in your place, start synchronising your breathing. Breathe in the positive and calming effect triggered by this place and as you breathe out, let this feeling diffuse throughout your whole body. Breathe this way for a minute or so. If you prefer to use a calming word or a calming colour instead of a calming place, that is fine, try whatever works for you. When you are ready, let the image fade away, come back to your body and listen closely to how you are feeling and any physical sensations you can notice. Acknowledge your experience. To finish, take a few deep breaths and slowly move and stretch your whole body before opening your eyes. Take a moment to let this experience sink in before going back to your tasks.
As a reminder of your calming place, word or colour, you could print an illustration of it and put it up by your desk so you see it often and are reminded of it every day.
Have a go at these and let me know how you are feeling!
Make an appointment with yourself EVERY DAY to relax and breathe mindfully. You matter and you deserve this time to yourself.