Have you every noticed your jaw clenched or tightness in your neck and shoulders? Experts tell us that these muscles are the first to take on our stress. This area of the body has been nicknamed “the stress triangle”. We know that 69% of employees who completed their health check survey on Virgin Pulse reported moderate to high stress, so let’s review some practical ways to help us dissolve these stress symptoms.
1. Exercise – lace up those walking shoes and get outside to walk away from stress. According to Harvard Health, exercise can relax us and bring calm by releasing endorphins and reducing stress hormones that wreak havoc on our bodies.
2. Stretching – remember the stress triangle, let’s put those muscles back into a relaxed state.
- Shoulder Shrug – Lift the shoulders as if pretending to touch the ears; hold; release; repeat.
- Eardrop – With shoulders in a relaxed position, drop the right ear to the right shoulder; hold; release slowly, returning to an erect position. Repeat on the left side.
3. Breathe – Place one hand just below the rib cage. Take a deep full breath in, notice the movement of your hand. Did it move in or out? Did it move at all? This is deep belly breathing.
Let’s Practice: 1 – to – 4 Count. Take a deep, full breath. Exhale fully and completely. Inhale again, counting 1, 2, 3, 4. Hold that breath, counting 4, 3, 2, 1. Exhale slowly, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Repeat two to three times to restore calm, increase energy and focus.
Engaging in these activities above will certainly help in the moment, but if you find you need more, there are many places to turn for resources. Anthem offers a total health solution, through Learn to Live a behavioral health resource offering online and mobile tools for managing depression, stress, and other conditions. Marketplace chaplains provide individual, as well as immediate family, confidential chaplain discussions for issues including, but not limited to, marriage, divorce and remarriage, parenting, serious illness, death and grief recovery, care of aging parents, stress, discouragement, anger, finances, as well as any other personal issues. Chaplains are dedicated to support the mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual well-being of employees and their families. Virgin Pulse also offers a variety of resources including a media library, journeys, and healthy habits to support stress relief.
Don’t let Stress Awareness Month, observed each April pass you by without trying a new activity or checking out a resource.