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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Shower Meditation How to - Easy Visualization Technique to Clean your Mind and Body

Normally when you think of meditation you probably don’t think about doing it in the shower. Interestingly enough, meditation can be very versatile. You can practice meditation techniques throughout the day and in most activities. Meditation helps to calm and center the mind and this shower meditation is no different.

When worries and upset builds it can sometimes be difficult to let the negative feelings go. This shower meditation is designed to help you wash away stress and discomfort through the act of visualization. There are many different types of meditation to choose from and getting started with meditation is really easy.

So, let’s jump on in!

 

Surprisingly enough this shower meditation doesn’t start in the shower. It starts in the bathroom before you’ve removed your clothes.

Start by taking a deep breath and grounding into the moment.

As you remove your clothes imagine yourself peeling off your outer shell. Feel into your vulnerability.

Turn the water on and as you wait for it to become warm, listen to the sound it makes, feel the air around you start changing, and take another deep breath. Feel the air fill your lungs fully and on your exhale feel yourself loosen up and begin to let go.

Now that the water is warm, step into it. Acknowledge the feeling of it hitting your body and washing away.

From here, keeping your eyes closed can help you to focus more on the act of cleansing yourself. You don’t need to keep your eyes closed the whole time if that is uncomfortable but when you can try to close them.

Feel the warm water wash over you and imagine it softening your entire body.

Begin to wet your hair, feeling the water now running down the length of your body. As you continue to shampoo and condition your hair, imagine yourself washing all your thoughts and letting them run down the drain and out of your mind.

With your mind empty and your hair clean grab your body wash or soap to begin cleansing your body. Take another deep breath and notice the smell of the soap in your hand. Starting with your face and neck, gently wash. Imagine that every time you touch your body to the soap that some of your stresses wash away. Continuing down your shoulders and arms, all while letting go of any emotions or worries that arise. Let the soap act as a buffer between you and your negative thoughts.

Move down your torso and back and take note of your posture, finding a place that your body feels comfortable. A lot of people hold stress in their back and not only can you help that by visualizing the stress wash away but the hot or warm water can help muscle recovery.

Again move further down your body to your hips and legs, all the while letting the stresses you wash out continue to run down the drain. Finish the cleanse by soaping all the way down to your toes. Think about the soap pushing out any last worries, before stepping directly under the water again.

Let the water run down your body one last time. Visualize a white light radiating out from your head. Feel the water as it spreads the light down to the rest of your body, illuminating you. Feel the light shining through the now clean window of your mind. Hold onto the feeling before taking three deep and long breaths.

Now you can turn off the shower and get out. Once you step out to take a moment to notice how you feel.

This kind of meditation can be really good if you have a busy schedule and feel like you can’t fit anything else in, or you are just looking to find more moments in which that you can be mindful. Regardless of your situation, stresses seem to be everywhere and sometimes letting go of them can be hard.

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Have you tried more unconventional methods of meditation like this? Leave me a comment telling me how your meditation went!

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Making Meditation Easy: A Beginner's How to Guide

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For most people the act of sitting down and doing nothing may seem strange or bizarre. We live in a world where it is the norm to be constantly busy. Taking a break can be daunting when there seems to be a list a mile long of to-do’s. With so many distractions and events constantly happening around us, we begin to lose focus on the present moment. Meditation is the act of calming the mind and pulling our focus away from all the outside distractions and instead moving it inward. Most meditations are built on coming back to the breath and honing into its flow throughout the body.



Before you Jump In

Maybe at this point your thinking meditation must be super easy. Sitting in silence? I don’t know how that would be hard.

You may be surprised to hear that meditation in fact can actually be more difficult than most people think. We live our lives constantly thinking, only turning our mind off when it's time to sleep. Settling into a space where you need to acknowledge and let go of your thoughts can be a struggle.  

Some days will be easier and letting go will seemingly come naturally but other days may feel hard and as if your mind is a roller coaster twisting and turning from one thought to the next.  Don’t let yourself label your practice as good or bad, instead use each one as a learning experience. Don’t overthink meditation(sometimes this is easier said than done).

Now onto the fun part!

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Getting Started

The most important part of meditation is the practice of it. By setting aside a specific time and place for it, it becomes more of a habit or expectation.  There are no rules to when or where you should meditate; choose what works best for you. It can be helpful to use meditation to start the day fresh and without worry by practicing in the morning. It can also however be useful in aiding in sleep by doing it before bed. It is not necessary to practice at either time, just whatever works best for you.

Along with scheduling a time for meditation, it can also be helpful to create a space for the practice.  Maybe a fun colored meditation cushion can help to motivate you to practice. You are in control when it comes to your practice so make sure that you are comfortable and happy with your set up.  Where ever you decide to make your designated spot, make sure it is free from distractions and decently quiet.

Time to Meditate

Once you have everything set up to start your practice it's time to find the best or most interesting technique to you. There are many different kinds to choose from but today we will be picking one of the simplest. Mindfulness. This method doesn’t require any bells or whistles. You don’t need anything fancy but a timer and your focus.

When you’re just getting started you don’t need to become a monk and meditate for hours. Start with a simple 10 minute session.  You can add more time if you feel as though that that’s in your practice.

Set your timer and sit or lay down in a comfortable position. Feel your muscles relax and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths, feeling each one fill your lungs, and settle in.

Relax your breath to a normal rhythm and notice where you feel it most strongly. It could be in your stomach, chest, or maybe even the cool air drawing in at your nostrils. Where ever you feel it most strongly keep your focus there. Your mind will wander but the key piece to meditation is in the repeated act of returning to your breath no matter what or how many times you get pulled away.  If you need an extra piece to help hold your focus you can count “one” on the in breath and “two” on the out breath, feeling each breath from start to finish.

Each time you catch your mind wandering acknowledge it, let it go, and flow back into the breath. Keep returning to the breath until the timer buzzes. When the time is up slowly come back to your body by wiggling your fingers and toes, giving your body a stretch and opening your eyes.

Take a moment to note how you feel. Did this practice bring stillness? Do you feel relaxed? Or at peace?

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Meditation is a practice and not something that anyone can do perfectly. What to some might be seen as doing nothing, meditation can bring more calmness and focus to everyday life. By implementing a regular time for meditation real change and effects can be observed. Many people report being happier, having more concentration, and overall feeling calmer with a meditation practice.

Have you ever tried meditation? What’s your experience like? What tools do you use to keep yourself motivated to meditate? Tell me below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!




Feeling Stressed? Here's 11 things you can do right now!

With the busy lives almost all of us lead today, it’s no wonder we feel stressed.  Stress can have many effects on both one’s physical and mental well being. When we are under stress we sleep less, are more likely to develop depression, and have poorer relationships; just to name a few.  Nobody wants to feel stress and everyone wants to feel at peace. Here’s a list of some of the ways you can use to find relief and reduce the feeling of stress.

1. Meditate

Taking some time to sit quietly and draw your focus away from your stressors can be super effective in alleviating stress.  When you allow yourself to let go of the worries and thoughts that plague your mind, it’s no wonder you will feel lighter and less stressed.

Want to try meditation?  Start here for a simple beginner’s guide or here to learn more about the different types of meditation you can try.


2. Stretch

Get your limbs nice and limber!  We don’t always notice it but when we’re under a lot of pressure we tend to hold the stress in our bodies.  Sometimes we have a tension in our shoulders or maybe a furrowed brow. Take a few moments to reach your arms up over your head, give yourself a twist, and feel the tension melt out of your body.  When we acknowledge where we feel stress we can become more aware and help to catch ourselves as we become stressed.

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3. Get some sun

Vitamin D can be surprisingly more powerful than you might think a vitamin can be.  When you’re experiencing low vitamin D, you might feel tired or sick, have muscle pain, or feel depressed.  Maybe you can’t just sit under the sun until your discomfort is solved but you could opt for a vitamin supplement and a short walk during your lunch break.  Just make sure to bring your sunscreen!

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4. Eat a healthy snack

Food is always something that can make your day better.  Although reaching for sweets might be your first instinct when you feel stressed, it’s important to choose something that will not only make you feel good now but that will also be good in the long run.  By picking a healthy snack, like a piece of fruit or some veggies, we can also work to encourage other healthy choices not only in our diets.

5. Find a creative outlet

Maybe you’re not an artist or maybe you are, regardless having an avenue in which that you can express yourself without any expectations can be helpful to your stress level.  Maybe drawing or painting or even something as simple as a coloring book can be used to help relieve stresses.

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6. Talk to a friend

Having a support system in one of the single best things you can do for your mental health.  It’s so important to know that you’re not alone in what you’re going through. Just simply calling up a friend or family member can do so much to boost your mood because it gives you a place where you can talk about your feeling and help get them off your chest.  If you don’t feel as though you have someone in your immediate life to talk to there’s plenty of online chat rooms and forums where you can meet people who you will be able to relate to.

7. Have a technology free hour

I think most of us would be taken aback to learn just how much of an affect our technology has on the way we’re feeling.  Constantly checking for new emails, new updates, and all the seemingly endless things our phones can do for us may seem like a blessing but in most of those cases the emails are from our bosses, the updates happen overwhelming too often, and we are always connected to some sort of stress.  Putting down and turning our technologies off can do wonderful things for our stress level. Disconnecting from technology can mean disconnecting from many different causes of stress.

8. Play with a pet

I can’t imagine that there’s too many people that would not feel better after hanging out with a little fuzzy animal.  If you don’t have pets yourself you can always see a friend with one, go to a petstore, or volunteer at an animal shelter.  The energy that animals have are always enough to lift someone’s spirits.

9. Write it out

It’s no doubt that writing out our feelings is a healthy way to release them but not only can journaling help to release emotions but it can also be used to train yourself to find more positives.  We can write about the things that bothered or upset us but we can also use a gratitude practice to strength the good aspects of our day too.

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10. Read a book

Have you been to busy to start that book that’s maybe been sitting on your shelf for longer than you’d like to admit?  Whether you’re reading a story book to escape or a one to advance your knowledge, reading gives us the ability to focus on something outside ourselves.  Most of us probably don’t read often enough so what’s a better time than right now?

11. Clean your space

Maybe you thought your cluttered desk was a sign of genius in the making but nobody really likes to be overwhelmed by a mess.  Cleaning up your space, whether it's your house or your desk, can help you to organize your mind as well. It’s always helpful to know where everything is and that it will be there when you come to needing it.  Nothing is more distracting than looking for something and spending all your time trying just to find it.

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When you’re feeling down the best thing you can do for yourself is to acknowledge the feeling and let it go.  By separating yourself from your negative emotions, you are able to see the situation better for what it is. The main goal of all of the techniques listed above are designed to get you out of your own head.  Stress can be debilitating but using healthy coping mechanisms we can lessen the strain it puts on our wellbeing.