Image: Hamid Tajik via Unsplash

5 Stress-Eliminating Movement Techniques to Try When You’re Not Feeling Great

We interview Aaron Alexander, CR, LMT, CPT (NASM), renowned celebrity movement coach.

The holidays are done and over with, but with the pandemic still raging, we’re still a little bit stressed out, you could say. A time that’s meant to be about getting your year together and ready to go, as well as finally getting some you time is not as relaxing as you’d hope it’d be. But, this time is not necessarily fun for everyone. In fact, many people dread the beginning of the year and would prefer to avoid it together. So, what can folks do to alleviate some of that stress safely and naturally? According to Aaron Alexander, CR, LMT, CPT (NASM), renowned celebrity movement coach who works with stars like Usher, Gerard Butler, Lance Armstrong and more, your own body can be the most productive tool to manage stress if you implement certain movement techniques into your daily practices. Keep reading for more on Aaron’s stress-eliminating moves that can have you feeling great in no time.

stress-eliminating moves
Image: Courtesy of Aaron Alexander

5 Stress-Eliminating Movement Techniques to Try When You’re Not Feeling Great

1) Going for a Walk

Go for a walk in nature regularly so you can breathe in fresh air and have sunlight on your body. What is helpful about going for a walk is being exposed to plants in nature and as you’re breathing in their various chemicals omissions it sends a signal which causes your immune cells to up-regulate. Breathing in fresh air also can increase the oxygen levels in your brain which increases serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters that affects mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness.

2) Refocusing Your Vision

Relax your eyes by looking out into the panorama. Using panoramic vision, is taking in the whole picture as opposed to myopically focusing on an image. When we are focus in on an image, it teases our nervous system to go into a ready to act mode. When we zoom out and go into panorama vision it cues up our nervous system to calm down. So, if you are working at a computer for 8 hours a day and are beginning to feel overwhelmed take your eyes off the screen for 30 seconds every hour. Look out the window or refocus your eyes on something besides the screen allowing your nervous system to calm.

3) Breathing

Focus on breathing. You can focus on nose breathing by reducing the pace of breath, slowing your breathing cycles, and emphasizing the exhalation through the nose. For this exercise you should be standing and when you are breathing envision a string lightly pulling your head back until you are looking at the sky. You can also place your hands on the sides of your lower ribs or just below your belly button to guide your breathing.

4) Hanging

Another stress-eliminating body movements is hanging. You can use a pull up bar in a common doorway, at the gym, or at an outdoor park and spend some time decompressing. I recommend hanging on a pull up bar for 90 seconds a day. Some tips for hanging include wrapping your fingers as far around the bar as possible and create a strong lock with your thumbs wrapping your index and middle finger. Pretend you are squeezing the pulp out of the bar. Switch between an overhand and underhand grip to explore a full range of motion of the shoulder joint and connective tissue around the forearms. You can vary the width between your hands regularly as well. Hanging decompresses the spine, the rib cage, and your intercostal muscles. When you are stressed, the muscles and connective tissue around the ribs, neck, and shoulder contract. So, hanging is a really great way to reset all of those stress patterns.

5) Observe Your Breath

The fifth and final stress-eliminating practice you can do is a seated mindfulness practice where you spend 12 minutes just observing breath. If you are feeling any type of stress, observe where you feel that stress in the body. Do you feel it in your belly? Do you feel it in your chest? Do you feel it in your back? Do you feel your jaw, neck, head? Use this time to observe the texture of it. Does it have a shape? Does it have a color? Does it have a sound? Does it have a temperature?

What that does is it creates a little space between you and the idea of stress. You can observe stress happening and separate yourself from it. As your mind wanders into different directions, wherever it may go, your only task for that 12-minute period is just to come back to your breath and notice the quality of your breath, notice the air moving through your nostrils, notice the temperature of the air going through your nostrils. Those are the only tasks during the 12-minute set that you have. Wherever you’re sitting, make sure that your hips are up above the height of your knees so your mechanically in a good position for it. Raise your hips up on like a floor cushion or pillow. If you’re having an acute stress situation or observing the stress in the body you should carve out time for your mindfulness practice.

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