How to Release Stress with this Self Massage for your Neck

A massage sounds like a nice idea in essence but unfortunately, the cost and time can make them hard to access.  Self massages are an easy way to achieve the benefits of a massage without having to spend any money or go anywhere.  Self massages can be a targeted way to reduce stress and relieve tension.

When you give yourself a massage you can tailor your technique to what you are feeling in that specific moment.  If you come across any spots that are tighter than the rest, take a few extra moments to massage and work the area.  Take your time and feel free to follow the steps as you read them. This massage should be 6-8 minutes but could made to be shorter or longer depending on your needs.  

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Nobody has time to visit a massage parlor and although this is technically a “self massage,” you can absolutely recruit your significant other or someone else to help you.  Or if you are a significant other, you could give this massage.

My neck and shoulders are almost always carrying stress.  Which can be exhausting. When stress is really getting to me I can feel it creeping into my body and making itself home.  Unpleasant to say the least. A large part of this is controlling how I deal with stress but how do I deal with it once it's already there?

Pushing it out.  For some extra stress relieving properties, I imagine myself pulling and pushing all the built up stress out.  With every drag of my fingers, I feel the tension beginning to leave.

Not only do I use self massages for self care but they are also great for when I’m feeling overwhelmed.  I get a chance to tune into my body to find and relieve stress. As well I can dial up the intensity for a more deep massage, to really get the stress out.  

By combining awareness with this massage you can start to get to the root of your stress and begin to protect your physical body from it.  Stress is as much about the physical sensations you deal with as the emotional ones.

Massages can be helpful in reducing stress and can have relaxing aspects.  Massage oil or cream can be used to amplify these properties. As well neck massages can help to reduce headache pain, high blood pressure, and improve brain function by increasing circulation.  By massaging your neck regularly you may also see improvements in your posture, flexibility, and can reduce the chance of pulling a muscle. By giving yourself a massage you are able to get in on these benefits and start managing your stress.  

 
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Start by reaching both your hands to the base of your neck.  Use your whole hand to massage or palm the muscles there. Move down on to your upper shoulder/back and keep palming your muscles.  You should feel your muscles begin warming. Keeping with the same action, move upwards on your neck, about to the base of your skull.  Do this a couple more times until the whole area of your upper back and neck feel warm.

Move your hands farther down your back, next to your spine.  With an upwards motion push with a little more pressure on your traps.  Imagine yourself pulling the tension out as you repeat this movement 3 or 4 more times.  

Palm over your entire neck area again, keeping heat there.  Start massaging in a circular motion the top of your neck and continue to the base of your neck.  Then pull your fingers away from your spine. Keep with the circular motions if that feels good for 7-10 more repetitions or while moving your fingers down and away from your spine apply mild pressure.  Some mild discomfort may be noticed. You can keep palming the area if pushing is too painful. Make sure never to do anything painful or too uncomfortable. As well it is important to not push directly on your spine with too much pressure as you may cause unintended injury.  

Move again farther down your neck and begin to pull your fingers over the muscles at the tops of your shoulder blades.  Find a rhythm and begin to apply a little more pressure. Keep massaging your muscles out and away from your spine. Do this for 7-10 repetitions.  You can vary the speed or alternate the side you are doing this on.

Lightly tip your head to one side, make sure to find a stable point or support your head.  With your head tipped, again begin to make circles down the extended side of your neck and a short ways down.  Go for 5-7 repetitions. Repeat the same on the other side of your neck.

From a tipped point slowly roll your head forwards, to the side, and then backward until you’re in the starting point again.  Do this on each side 2-3 times.

Starting at the top of your neck, using your preferred method gently massage down your neck a few more times before returning to palming your neck.  Continue gently squeezing and palming up and down your neck, bring that heat once more.

Begin to focus in on where it feels tight.  This may be at the base of your skull, behind your ears, between your shoulder blade or elsewhere.  Pay extra attention here. Begin to massage the tight area with your fingers or thumbs. Make circles if that is what feels good or just simply push with your fingers.  

Give yourself one or two more large palming squeezes before letting go.  

Feeling relaxed yet?

After pushing all the stress out of your body, imagine yourself as a blank slate.  Allow yourself to release any extra stress you might be feeling. Know that keeping stress inside your muscles does not serve you and you are free to let it go.

Self massages are a nice way to help your relieve tension and relax.  You can give yourself a light massage anytime without needing to go anywhere or spend anything.  Massages can help to alleviate a number of ailments and get you on the path to being your best and most relaxed self.


 
 

Warm Up with these 8 Winter Inspired Self Care Ideas

As exciting as the lights and holiday flavored beverages are, the winter season can bring a lot of unwanted stress.  It is easy to become overworked and tired with the seemingly never-ending bustle to fit everything in. These 8 activities are not only great for self care but they are also wintery and sure to get you in the holiday spirit!

Stop worrying about the holidays and start taking care of yourself!

 

1. Take a winter walk

Getting outside and into the fresh air can help to calm and relax you.  Taking a walk is a nice way to enjoy the winter season. If you have a dog, going for a walk can be a lot more rewarding of an experience.  

Whether you go for a walk around the block or on winter hiking trails, getting outside is one of the easiest ways to take care of yourself in the winter season.  Just make sure to dress appropriately for the weather!

2. Play in the snow

Although this one might sound a little silly, having a snowball fight with friends, making a snowman, or doing snow angels, can be a fun way to recharge over the holidays.  Just because it is cold and snowy doesn’t mean that you have to stay inside. Instead, try to embrace some things that this kind of weather brings.

3. Try a winter sport

There are loads of winter sports that are not only good for your health but also good for your well being.  Snowmobiling or snowboarding could be fun if you are looking for a high energy fast-paced sport. On the other hand, there are also winter sports like cross-country skiing, or sledding for a more relaxed time.

Other winter sports that you might find interesting could be, skating, snowshoeing, or even curling!

4. Set up holiday decorations

Christmas lights and decorations can be a fun way to get into the holiday spirit.  You can experiment with different kinds of decor or you could even make your own. Regardless, hanging lights and ornaments can be a relaxing activity that you can do by yourself or with friends and family.  

5. Write holiday cards

When you think self care, you probably don’t think about writing a card for someone else.  The great part about writing holiday cards is that you can take time to express your gratitude for the people around you.  Gratitude is also so beneficial to your well-being that acknowledging it can very well boost your mood.

There’s nothing better than receiving a meaningful and thoughtful card.

6. Make DIY gifts

Most DIY projects are pretty easy and cheap to do, making DIY gifts is no different.  

Pinterest is the perfect place to find easy to make gifts that can suit anyone.  Similar to writing holiday cards, DIY gifts can also be used to help remind yourself of the gratitude you have for the receiver.

7. Sit by the fireplace

When it is cold outside the perfect place to be is curled up in a blanket nice and warm.  Now not everyone has a fireplace to sit by but there are lots of videos of them if you’re looking for the whole experience.  Otherwise just snuggling up in a blanket and relaxing can do.

8. Make hot chocolate and cookies

What’s the best thing on a cold winter afternoon? A hot drink of course!

Not only is it nice to slow down and sip a hot chocolate but homemade cookies are also great.  Self care is the best when it’s slow and intention and not to mention delicious.

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Winter self care can be extra important because the holidays can take a lot out of you.  The holidays are always really busy, from running around to get gifts, to making the feasts, it is important to slow down and take care of yourself.  Use self care to recharge and feel better.

What’s your favorite way to take care of yourself during the holidays?  I know I definitely love to curl up in a huge blanket with a good book when its cold outside.  Plus a huge blanket means room to share and I have a dog who will gladly snuggle up with me!


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3 Ways Meditation can make you More Happy

Too many of us are living in a world where the present moment is filled with thoughts of the not so present moment.  Because of this, establishing an identity that is not riddled with doubts and anxieties can be extremely difficult. Meditation can help to rewire our brains and pull us back to the present moment.  Through the practice of meditation, we can gain a better understanding of own mind and the situations we may find ourselves in.


Keep scrolling to find out exactly how meditation can help to improve your life!

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Reduce Anxiety - In the Moment Breathing Techniques

Do you know that moment of worry right before something big?  Maybe it's a job interview or dinner with the in-laws. Whatever the issue you can gain the ability to accept and control your emotions, no matter the challenge you face.  Focusing your attention on something small and relatively consistent can help to channel your feelings.

When you begin to feel doubts or worries come on try to focus that energy onto your breathe instead.  Mark the in and out breaths(Count 1 and 2, In and Out, etc.) and focus on the sensations you feel. Try not to entertain the negative emotions or get swept up in them.  Acknowledge the negative feeling but do not feed them.

By working to learn how to let go of emotions that do not serve you we can become less reactive and calmer when stressful emotions arise.  



Self Awareness - Physical and Emotional Sensations

Sometimes we are disconnected from our bodies and become unaware of the sensations we are experiencing. We can be too consumed in our thoughts that physical sensations get forgotten about.  By dedicating time to experiencing the somewhat forgotten sensations we can become more aware of them in our life day to day.

Body scans are a relatively easy way to become more in touch with the sensations in our bodies.  By taking a few moments of your day to explore different body parts and how they are feeling allows for a better dialog within ourselves.  Scanning the body can give an understanding of how stress and tension are held.

Starting from the head and working downward we can acknowledge how each body part feels and work to release any tension we might feel.  When we focus on physical sensations we allow the mind and body to feel synced.

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Perspective Shift - Acknowledging and Letting Go of Emotions

When we are faced with stress and problems, how we react can have a major effect on the outcome of the scenario.  By feeding into our emotions we can get caught up and become unable to see everything clearly. Meditation helps us to let go of our emotions.  Your emotions are not permanent nor should they define how we react. We can have strong emotions without being them and that’s exactly what meditation is trying to teach us.  

We can acknowledge our situation and how that makes us feel but until we have the ability to separate our emotions from it we cannot easily be at peace with anything uncomfortable.  Once we are fully able to step back and look from an objective point of view, we are able to make decisions easier and less clouded by emotions.

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Meditation acts in many ways to help calm us and help us let go.  When we use techniques from different meditation practices we can reduce worries, become more in tune with our sensations, and help to change our perspective.  Meditation has many lessons to teach us, these are only a few that you can start implementing in your life right now. We are constantly bombarded by stress and even more stressful situations, by facing them with a level head and a clear mind we can work to make ourselves more comfortable overall.  



Are you a beginner meditator? Maybe you’ve never even meditated before. Here’s a simple guide to meditation!  This is the basics of starting meditation and can be used to help you get started with your meditation journey.  Breathe mindfully!



Have you noticed any benefits from your meditation practice?  What makes you want to meditate in the first place?

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