To wrap up Mental Health Awareness Month, I want to share a few ways to release tension and center your body. You can work through these movements quickly or slowly. Set your own pace. I encourage you to customize the exercises to meet your unique needs, and designed this collection to be done both seated and standing—accessible to a variety of bodies and ability levels.
You can do all ten from start to finish for a full-body relaxation experience. Or you can pick and choose individual exercises to use when you need them. I love having easy ways to destress in my back pocket, and I hope you will too.
1. To ease tension in the face: Lick your lips and then swallow, relaxing your tongue and face muscles.
2. To calm jaw-clenching: Start at the base of your ears and press your thumbs along the jawline. (You know you’re doing it right when you start to salivate.)
3. To relieve the shoulders: Give yourself a tight hug. You can try reaching for the opposite shoulder with your fingertips for a deeper stretch.
4. To sooth the hands: Massage the meaty muscle between your index finger and thumb.
5. To release the wrists: Rest the palms of your hand on your thighs and gently press down. (You can gently rock your wrists forward and away from you for more intensity.)
6. To rejuvenate your torso: Place your left hand on your right knee and fold your right arm behind your back and twist. Then switch sides.
7. To ease pressure on the lower back: Clench and release your glutes to relieve lower back tension.
8. To calm stress in the hips: Pretend there’s a balloon between your thighs and gently squeeze the balloon.
9. To relax the legs: Point and flex your feet and toes, and you’ll legs will feel more
10. To refresh your entire body: Have a good laugh. Yes, really! Laughing is a great way to get fresh air pumping through your body while activating nearly every part of your body.
Maay B. L. M. is a Breathe For Change Wellness Champion Candidate, yoga-instructor-in-training, and child care and development expert. She is also the Imanigold Mind-Body Specialist. You can follow may on Instagram at @maaylemon_.