So, for a long time I have personally suffered from tight neck and shoulder muscles, especially at the top of my neck which often seems to seize up like rock and become so tight that the tightness itself gives me a headache.
Over the past few years, I have been a regular user of chiropractors, physiotherapists, and most recently muscle relaxants, however as much as all of the above have given me relief, it’s only ever been temporary. Additionally, these are not long term solutions because A) the cost of the treatments on an ongoing basis and B) you cannot rely on medication forever and can become reliant.
For this reason, I recently have delved deeper to find out how I can naturally release the tension in my neck and shoulders on my own. And after some experimentation, practice, and patience, I think I might have found the answer I have been looking for…
Deep belly breathing with neck relaxation
Ok, so recently I stumbled upon this amazing woman on Instagram called Jeannie Di Bon who is a Health Coach and Movement Therapist. She explains that a great way to relax the neck and shoulder muscles is to lie flat on your back (preferably on a mat) and tuck a small rolled-up towel into the arch of your neck.
Next, allow the towel to support you and let everything go. Let your neck and shoulders become super heavy as your muscles melt whilst you lay there and practice some deep belly breathing. I started off with 10 minutes but now do 20 and WOW, what a difference! I have now made it my daily practice several times a day. To find Jeannie’s video on exactly how to do this, click here to go to her Instagram.
2. Meditation combined with visualization
As we know, meditation can induce relaxation and thus relax muscles, but recently I have found that by combining my meditation practice with visualization, it is so much more powerful [1,2]. I use a free app called Insight timer and use their many guided visualizations to choose from, my favorite is called ‘relaxing tension’.
In this meditation, I literally see the muscles in my neck as nuts and bolts, tightly wound up which undo themselves or I see a white light blowing on them that melts them from ice to water. You can visualize anything you like but just find what works best for you.
3. Practising regular neck and shoulder ‘check-ins’
Going through cognitive behavioural therapy has taught me how, over time, we create certain habits, and for me, a big habit I had created was limiting the movement in my neck and shoulders. I would move like a robot, holding my neck and shoulders muscles so tightly never turning my head, so I had to learn to release this and allow the muscles to relax.
So periodically throughout your day, check in with yourself and see if you are holding your neck or shoulders? If you are, take a deep breath, roll your shoulders and let them drop away from your ears to the floor. To help me change this habit I placed post-it notes that said ‘tension check-in’ all around the house, in my car, office, bedroom, in my diary, and fridge to remind me.
Changing this habit will prevent tension occurring in the first place.
4. Gentle head tilts from side to side
Now once the muscles are nicely relaxed from the towel exercise, Jeannie Di Bon suggests that we gently, and I mean gently, tilt the head from side to side towards each ear whilst looking straight ahead to release the tension further. Do this ten times from side to side never holding the stretch and always keeping the motion moving from left to right. Again, please find the video instructions for this by clicking here.
Years ago I never believed that I had the ability to release 100% of my muscle tension myself without the aid of a therapist, but I was so wrong, WE CAN release tension ourselves, it just takes time, practice and patience.
Are there any other ways you have found you can naturally release your tension?
#Relaxation #Meditation #Tension #MuscleTightness #Healing