If you're feeling overwhelmed, there are two techniques to calm your body so you can clarify your mind and think well.
The gratitudes are the activity of taking time to notice what's good around you and what's good in your life. They may be very simple things, the opportunity to pat your neighbour’s cat, or it might simply be that moment where you sit with a cup of tea and take a pause in your day.
The key with the gratitudes is to then later in your day, reflect and remember. The easiest way to do this is to keep a gratitude journal. And then in your journal, you might notice and say "I was aware of that gorgeous sunset. I appreciated the phone call from my friend. How much I enjoyed that moment when I was able to sit and gaze at the garden."
A body scan is taking a moment to notice how much tension you're holding in your muscles. And to recognize it, and then release it. And you may want to start at the top of your head and work down or start at your feet and work up. And what you're doing with a body scan is firstly, running your mind's eye over your body and noticing places where you might hold tension. Classic places that people hold tension are in their jaws. You might want to wiggle your jaw around and loosen that. A lot of people hold their shoulders up, tense and tight near their ears, and tense through their neck, so you might want to drop your shoulders and relax your neck. You might want to notice where your breath is -- are you breathing up in the top of your chest? or dropping it down and relaxing your diaphragm and the middle part of your torso? Just simply noticing those will bring down a great deal of tension. By doing a body scan, you will work out the tension that's in your body. When we're overwhelmed, we can unconsciously hold tension in our body. What the body scan does is help you locate where you have held this tension. And then the exercise of tightening and releasing is a practical exercise to help you release that tension, bringing on a feeling of calm.
Do it with us: The Hands
So now you've found that part of your body that is holding the tension. The next stage of the body scan activity is to release that tension. You can practice this using the example of hands.
Start with quite deliberately squeezing your hands as tight as possible for two or three lovely, long, slow breaths, and then release your hands for two more lovely, long, slow breaths. You should start to feel how your fingers feel softer, easier. You can also make your hands into starfish, by stretching your fingers as far and wide as they can go, and then relax them.
We encourage you to practice both the gratitudes and the body scan every day and the practice of them will build your capacity to respond quickly and calmly to the challenges of every day.
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