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6 Ways to Release Anxiety and Stress from Your Body

October 24, 2019 Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Releasing anxiety and stress from your body is as important as letting it go from your mind. Although we speak of "mind" and "body" separately, we're really one cohesive unit. When we're stressed, we're affected everywhere. When we're anxious, we feel it throughout our being. Therefore, working on the physical aspects of anxiety can have a positive ripple effect in your entire being, reducing physical symptoms as well as improving mood and thinking. Below, you'll find six ways to release anxiety and stress from your body. 

6 Exercises to Release Anxiety and Stress from Your Body

Making this a routine part of your day, even if it's for five, short minutes, will help your body let go of anxiety, stress, and tension. Try any or all of these six exercises:

  1. Conduct a body scan. Do this discreetly, wherever you are and any time you feel stressed or anxious. Closing your eyes or keeping them open, pay attention to your toes. Move to your feet, then ankles, then through each body part up to the top of your head. Increasing awareness of where you're holding tension can help you know where to concentrate your relief efforts. 
  2. Tense and release muscle groups. Wherever you feel stress within, pay attention mindfully to the area. Wiggle, massage, roll, and tense and release the muscles. It increases blood flow and helps with normal muscle functioning, and it releases stress and anxiety.
  3. Stretch and bend. Stand tall with your arms over your head, and then bend down to touch your toes. Clasp your elbows, and very gently sway slightly back and forth. Rise back up to stand. Bend to your left and to your right. Stand tall and twist to your right and left. Stretch, fold, bend, and twist many times throughout your day whenever you need physical anxiety relief. Listen to your body and never force any stretch.
  4. Breathe into all four sides of your torso. When you have anxiety or stress, slow, deep breathing is very effective in inducing calm. With hands-on your abdomen, take a deep breath and feel your belly expand and contract. Next, place a hand on each of your sides and note how your ribs stretch outward and sink back to the body. Then, turn your wrists so your hands can rest on the small of your back. While you won't feel big movement here, you can feel your back respond to your breath with the rest of your torso. Throughout this exercise, you can visualize your anxiety and stress leaving the body with each exhale. 
  5. Practice the cat-cow pose. This physical stretch comes to us from yoga. Position yourself on all fours. As you inhale, drop your spine down and allow the shoulders, chin, and hips to stretch upward. Exhale and round through your shoulders, back, and hips the way a cat arches its back. Enjoy the sensation of your body letting go of anxiety.
  6. Walk. Whether it's around the inside of your home or outside, get moving to release pent-up tension. Move at any speed you wish.

Tips for Getting Anxiety Out of the Body

Simply doing these exercises is enough. For added oomph, doing them mindfully will further decrease anxiety because you use mind and body together, forming a solid front against stress. To do them mindfully involves paying attention to the feel of your body as you move through these physical activities. When your mind wanders, just return it to the feel of movement. 

Finally, while you can use your own body as a cue to do an exercise, setting an alarm for, say, every hour can help you avoid falling into the trap of ignoring the sensations of stress and anxiety until you feel miserable. 

These six ways to release anxiety and stress from your body can be powerfully effective tools to enhance wellbeing. 

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2019, October 24). 6 Ways to Release Anxiety and Stress from Your Body, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, March 29 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2019/10/6-ways-to-release-anxiety-and-stress-from-your-body



Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of 101 Ways to Help Stop Anxiety, The 5-Minute Anxiety Relief Journal, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps, and five critically-acclaimed, award-winning novels about mental health challenges. She also speaks nationally about mental health. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Lizanne Corbit
October, 28 2019 at 5:07 pm

I love this read! It's amazing how much tension we can store in our bodies without even realizing it. One of my favorite reminders is to pause. Breathe deeply, unclench the jaw and drop the shoulders. So often, these are areas that tense and we don't even realize it. This is a beautiful example of how important the mind-body connection is for overall health and happiness.

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