Stress has been estimated to account for at least 75% of illness within the body. One very effective method of releasing stress that does not take a lot of time is through the practice of Qigong. The below easy stress relief exercises will give you some instant relief and a change in your emotional and mental state in order that you approach the challenges in your life with more resilience.
Start with the breath.
This mediation will focus on the Qigong Wave Breath, and then moves onto holding the neurovascular points on the head to bring back an even blood flow to the brain.
- Stand or sit tall with your shoulders and neck relaxed and place your hands over the lower part of your belly, one on top of the other.
- Breath deeply into your belly and take note of the quality of your breath. Are you able to breath deep slow breaths with ease? Or does your breath feel a little shallow or choppy? Do you have to force yourself to breath easily?
- Whatever your experience with your breath is right now, just allow it to be and see if you can observe your breath rather than force yourself to take long slow breaths. The more you can surrender to whatever your breath is doing, the more you will be able to relax into it and the result will be longer slower breathing. Do this for the next minute.
- Feel the belly rise and fall.
- Now, close you eyes and place one hand over your heart centre and leave the other hand placed on the lower belly. As you breath, imagine that your breath is like a wave. It starts at the base of you belly, ascends up through your stomach and into your chest, and the descends back down to your lower belly. Feel your rib cage move out.
- As you exhale, feel how the air moves out from your chest area, back down through the belly and into the lower belly as the rib cage moves back in. Soften throughout your jaw and your face. Relax your shoulders and let go of your tongue and this will help soften the muscles around the neck.
- Ease into your breath and let go of tension in your body. Remind yourself you only have to be right here right now. Nowhere else to be, nothing else to do-bring yourself right into the present moment awareness.
- Bring your mind completely into the quality and ease of your breathing. Do this for another minute where you breath in through the nose and out through the mouth. Let go and surrender to the present moment.
- In Qigong, this is called ‘Wave breathing’. Imagine your breath is like a wave moving your body and then back down your body.
The neurovascular points on your forehead.
- Now as you continue to breath, bring your finger tips to your forehead just above the eyebrows where you feel a small ditch in the bone of your skull.
- Press reasonably firmly with both hands and notice if you can feel the blood flow underneath your fingers. It may take a while before you can really start to feel a pulse underneath your fingers, but give it some time and notice when you feel the pulsing of blood evenly behind all of your finger tips of each hand.
- At first the blood flow may feel a little wirey, or maybe you feel it on one side but not the other side. Hold your hands continually until you feel the flow underneath both hands through your fingers.
What this practice does.
- When we get stressed we literally lose a healthy flow of blood to our brain and therefore it becomes harder to think cleary and come up with resourceful solutions to our challenges. By holding the neurovascular points and taking some time to breath deeply until we feel the even pulse of blood under the fingers, we bring back oxygen and nutrients to the brain and a more even flow of energy.
- This has immediate stress reducing qualities because we are activating the parasympathetic nervous system and releasing the fight or flight response that results from stress that is not properly released and hinders our immune system.
- When we do this practice every day we begin to reprogram our response to stressful events and therefore be able to handle them with more ease and less wear and tear on the body. It may take as long as 5 minutes or more to get this blood flow going underneath your finger tips depending on how long you have been under stress for without releasing it, so be patient with the practice.
- If your arms and head get tired holding the position you can sit at a desk and rest your elbows on the desk in front of you and lean your head into your finger tips.