I recently read an article about numerous ways to handle everyday stress. Each approach was straightforward and could be easily completed almost in any setting. For example, shrugging your shoulders was listed as one way to find relief from external stressors.
Compared to a truly deep, belly filling breath which extends your abdomen and ends with an exaggerated exhale, a shoulder shrug may be done without anyone noticing the movement as being some thing out of the ordinary. It is as a simple as the following two steps:
- Lift the top of your shoulders towards your ears while bringing your shoulder blades together (feel slight tension in your neck and shoulders).
- Hold this feeling of tension for 3 to 5 seconds.
- Relax your shoulders into their normal position.
- Repeat steps 1 - 3 at least two more times.
This simple shoulder shrug helps open your airways (aka bronchi) for a slower and deeper breath. By doing this, you can begin the shift from "fight or flight" (i.e., stress mode) to "rest and digest." Each breath travels from your mouth or nose, down your wind pipe then through your bronchial tubes or airways in your lungs.
An article, "A New Inhalation Technique for Improved Effect of Aerosolized Drugs in Asthma “The Shrug of the Shoulder Method” by L. C. Laurskn describes how using alternating shoulder shrugs when inhaling aerosolized drugs enhances dispersal of the drugs into the lungs. By simply lifting and lowering the left shoulder then repeating the same motion with the right shoulder, the study participants were able to expand their bronchial air passages more fully than using conventional methods for using inhalers.
The next time, you sense urgent deadlines, family demands or commuting concerns beginning to add stress to your day, try a few shoulder shrugs to help usher in a sense of relaxation with your next full breath. Click here for a link to two seated, shoulder movements which relieve stress.