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Friday, July 28, 2017

Stress Reduction Exercises to Do Anywhere



Teachers or caregivers may find themselves under a great deal of stress these days.  Don't let stress take you out of the game. You are the only one that can do anything about the level of stress you are under or the reaction to the events in your life.  Learning specific techniques will be helpful to help calm you when things get a bit our of hand.  You can take control of your own emotions and reactions.


Stress Reduction Exercises To Do Anywhere - Karen Molli

Self-Talk Exercise:

Practice positive self-talk to reduce stress.  For example, instead of saying to yourself:  “I’ll never get this project in on time!”  Try saying: “If I calm down, stay focused and take one step at a time, I’ll make steady progress and there’s a good chance I’ll meet my deadline.”

Think of other good examples of re-framing a negative to a positive self-talk message when you find yourself being self-critical, self-defeating or negative.

Negative:                                                                                                                                

Positive:                                                                                                                                 


Negative:                                                                                                                                

Positive:                                                                                                                                 


Deep Breathing Exercise:

  • Sit comfortably, placing one hand on your abdomen.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, drawing air into your abdomen.  You will notice the hand on your abdomen rising.
  • When you’ve inhaled as much as possible, hold your breath for a few seconds.
  • Exhale very slowly through your mouth, pursing your lips as if you were going to whistle or as if you were blowing through a straw.
  • As you exhale, try to control how fast you exhale, keep your airways open as long as possible.
  • When your lungs feel empty, begin the cycle again.
  • Repeat the cycle 3-4 times.


Clearing Your Mind Exercise: (Meditation)

  • Sit comfortably in a quiet environment (place phone on do not disturb or sign on door)
  • Put both feet on the floor.
  • Close your eyes and begin to breathe deeply.
  • Mentally focus on one (and only one) peaceful word, like om, calm, one etc.  Repeat the word without a break so that outside thoughts are hard to enter your mind.
  • If other thoughts enter your mind, gently push them away and continue with the repetition. (don’t become discouraged when your mind wonders, just re focus)
  • Try to remain as still as possible during meditation.  If you feel the need to itch, try to ignoring the need and focus on the word.
  • Continue for a few minutes.  It may be 2-3 minutes at first keep building a couple of minutes at a time, until you get to 15-20 minutes.



Stretching Exercises:

  • Shoulder shrug—Draw a big circle with your shoulders by slowly rolling your shoulders up toward your ears, back, downward, and forward.  Repeat 5 times then reverse the direction.
  • Half circle neck roll—With your back straight and shoulders relaxed, look down, then roll gently to the left and gently to the right.  Repeat 2-3 times.
  • Shoulder and arm stretch—Hold your hands together with fingers interlaced.  Stretch them overhead with palms upward.  Hold for 30 seconds, relax and repeat 5 times.


Autogenics Exercise:  (progressive relaxation)

This is a progressive muscle relaxation exercise.  You begin by concentrating on a mental suggestion such as, “My left arm feels warm and heavy.”  As you concentrate on this “self command,” try to actually feel your arm getting warmer and heavier.  Then repeat the same command, but focus it on your right arm, then left leg, right leg, and so on.  Go over all of your muscle groups for the best result.

  • Sit comfortably or lie down in a quiet location.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Take a few deep, slow breathes.
  • Try to clear your mind.
  • You may want to start off with a peaceful suggestion for yourself, such as, “I feel calm and my mind is at rest.”
  • Mentally focus on one muscle group of your body and give your command.  You can begin at the top of your head and move towards your feet.
  • “Try the same command, focusing on another part of your body.
  • Continue until you feel completely relaxed.
  • Allow yourself to enjoy this relaxed state for a few minutes.
  • When you are ready—breathe deeply, open your eyes and stretch!

Another one is:

  • Sit comfortable in a chair
  • Take a few deep breaths
  • With your arm bent at the elbow, make a hard fist with both hands and bend wrist so that the muscles of your arms are tense.  Hold for 5 seconds, then slowly let the tension out.
  • Notice the contrast of when it was tense and now relaxed.
  • Now tense your calf and thigh muscles (straighten out your leg hard while pointing your toes downwards.  Hold for 5 seconds then slowly release letting the tension out.
  • Repeat the steps above for your neck and jaw, forehead and scalp, abdominal and back muscles.


Self-Talk Exercise:

Practice positive self-talk to reduce stress.  For example, instead of saying to yourself:  “I’ll never get this project in on time!”  Try saying: “If I calm down, stay focused and take one step at a time, I’ll make steady progress and there’s a good chance I’ll meet my deadline.”

Think of other good examples of re-framing a negative to a positive self-talk message when you find yourself being self-critical, self-defeating or negative.

Negative:                                                                                                                                

Positive:                                                                                                                                 


Negative:                                                                                                                                

Positive:                                                                                                                                 


Deep Breathing Exercise:

  • Sit comfortably, placing one hand on your abdomen.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, drawing air into your abdomen.  You will notice the hand on your abdomen rising.
  • When you’ve inhaled as much as possible, hold your breath for a few seconds.
  • Exhale very slowly through your mouth, pursing your lips as if you were going to whistle or as if you were blowing through a straw.
  • As you exhale, try to control how fast you exhale, keep your airways open as long as possible.
  • When your lungs feel empty, begin the cycle again.
  • Repeat the cycle 3-4 times.


Clearing Your Mind Exercise: (Meditation)

  • Sit comfortably in a quiet environment (place phone on do not disturb or sign on door)
  • Put both feet on the floor.
  • Close your eyes and begin to breathe deeply.
  • Mentally focus on one (and only one) peaceful word, like om, calm, one etc.  Repeat the word without a break so that outside thoughts are hard to enter your mind.
  • If other thoughts enter your mind, gently push them away and continue with the repetition. (don’t become discouraged when your mind wonders, just re focus)
  • Try to remain as still as possible during meditation.  If you feel the need to itch, try to ignoring the need and focus on the word.
  • Continue for a few minutes.  It may be 2-3 minutes at first keep building a couple of minutes at a time, until you get to 15-20 minutes.


Stretching Exercises:

  • Shoulder shrug—Draw a big circle with your shoulders by slowly rolling your shoulders up toward your ears, back, downward, and forward.  Repeat 5 times then reverse the direction.
  • Half circle neck roll—With your back straight and shoulders relaxed, look down, then roll gently to the left and gently to the right.  Repeat 2-3 times.
  • Shoulder and arm stretch—Hold your hands together with fingers interlaced.  Stretch them overhead with palms upward.  Hold for 30 seconds, relax and repeat 5 times.


Autogenics Exercise:  (progressive relaxation)

This is a progressive muscle relaxation exercise.  You begin by concentrating on a mental suggestion such as, “My left arm feels warm and heavy.”  As you concentrate on this “self command,” try to actually feel your arm getting warmer and heavier.  Then repeat the same command, but focus it on your right arm, then left leg, right leg, and so on.  Go over all of your muscle groups for the best result.

  • Sit comfortably or lie down in a quiet location.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Take a few deep, slow breathes.
  • Try to clear your mind.
  • You may want to start off with a peaceful suggestion for yourself, such as, “I feel calm and my mind is at rest.”
  • Mentally focus on one muscle group of your body and give your command.  You can begin at the top of your head and move towards your feet.
  • “Try the same command, focusing on another part of your body.
  • Continue until you feel completely relaxed.
  • Allow yourself to enjoy this relaxed state for a few minutes.
  • When you are ready—breathe deeply, open your eyes and stretch!

Another one is:

  • Sit comfortable in a chair
  • Take a few deep breaths
  • With your arm bent at the elbow, make a hard fist with both hands and bend wrist so that the muscles of your arms are tense.  Hold for 5 seconds, then slowly let the tension out.
  • Notice the contrast of when it was tense and now relaxed.
  • Now tense your calf and thigh muscles (straighten out your leg hard while pointing your toes downwards.  Hold for 5 seconds then slowly release letting the tension out.
  • Repeat the steps above for your neck and jaw, forehead and scalp, abdominal and back muscles.








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