For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”

Lily Tomlin

Have you ever had someone congratulate you by patting your shoulder and the very act of having your shoulder touched was a wake-up call to you into how much tension you were holding there? In these current times of social distancing this type of congratulatory encounter happens less, yet the tensions continue to mount. Our body holds stress in our muscles. Sometimes so much so that we don’t even realize this until we’re touched.

So, here’s a simple exercise to help you relax one part of your body at a time. I’ll simply focus on the face in this column today, but the principles can be applied to all areas of your body. You will focus on specific areas of the face to help the whole face gradually relax. Pause between each section of the face mentioned to let your stress there melt away. Slow down. Breathe deeply into this pleasing pause.

Let’s start with the jaw. Unclench the teeth and relax the jaw.

Pause - Breathe deep.

Relax your mouth.

Next the nose – Relax the nose.

Relax the cheeks.

Relax the eyes and the eyelids.

Relax the eyebrows.

Relax the forehead.

Relax the scalp.

Relax the ears.

Pause – Breathe deep.

Notice how your face feels. Think of doing this simple exercise whenever a part of your body hurts or is tense. Simply instruct the area of your body that’s troubling you by calling out the various parts that make up the whole and tell each individual part to relax. Instruct gently. Don’t scold your body to relax or the opposite may happen. Simply separate and acknowledge each part by gently guiding each part individually into a relaxed way of being. This type of progressive muscle relaxation has been scientifically proven to reduce stress when practiced with focus and clarity.

Joan can be reached She is a resident of St. Charles. Her website

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