Well it’s definitely a change of weather here these last couple of days! The wind and rain has arrived in 79 and means it! Typical as the days were lovely and sunny and great for walking – such a huge way to relieve stress and strains – sometimes we don’t even realise we do need that walk until it’s been done and then you breath and feel lighter and brighter – especially in the very low temperatures!
We are holding out here in France and at the moment the next confinement hangs in the balance but still even under an 18h00 curfew it can be pretty stressful, working out timings to go shopping and all the other things we have had the freedom to do recently! And of course watching the news, awaiting any new restrictions, trying to continue as “normal” with work, rest and play, however you feel there is always that moment of worry or stress that can start coming over us.
A lot of people are still finding it quite hard at this time – and I came across this really brilliant method of finding some Inner Calm when we most need it..
I really hope you find it useful – I am going to print it out and keep it to hand for the days I am not in the Treatment room – those are for me the times I feel at my best and totally calm and zen but not everyday can be like that it seems 😉 Although I do love waving off my clients who have had that chance to relax, recharge and feel rejuvanated.
A Quick, Calming Body Scan to Check in With Yourself
The practice is as simple as the acronym. “The CALM Reminder” helps us check into and then relax four big zones of our body
C-Chest, A-Arms, L-Legs, M-Mouth.
Those four zones offer great information about our emotional state. What’s more, when we relax our body zone by zone, it becomes physiologically almost impossible to also be stressed, anxious, angry, or otherwise overwhelmed with difficult emotions.
This practice can expand or contract depending on the amount of time and attention you have—from just a few minutes, up to ten or fifteen. Start by finding a comfortable position to stand, sit or lie down. Allow your eyes to close if you feel comfortable. Begin with a few expanded breaths, allowing your body to relax as you extend the out-breath.
C-Chest After a few breaths, bring your awareness to your chest and torso area. First scan your chest, opening and lifting it, creating enough room for your lungs and belly to fully expand. Bring your awareness to any sensations there.
Is your breath shallow and short, or slow and even? As you regulate your breath, you regulate your body and brain, and in turn your emotions, impulses, and attention. Is your heart beating fast or slow? Is there any tightness or tension in your chest?
Allow your breath to expand your chest, releasing any tension there. Lastly, tense all the muscles throughout your chest and torso, hold for a count of three as you notice what tension feels like, then allow your muscles to relax and feel the tension flow away and relaxation flow in with the next few breaths.
A-Arms Shift your awareness now into your arms, from your shoulders down to your fingers. Lift and drop your shoulders once and let your arms fall to your sides or into your lap. Now scan your awareness upward from your hands through the forearms and upper arms.
Are they shaking or still? Can you just allow them to settle if they are shaking? Are they tensed partly into fists? If so, just release that tension. Are your hands sweaty or clammy?
Scan up your arms to your shoulders, continuing to notice any other sensations that might give you a clue as to your emotional state.
Lastly, squeeze your fists, tense your arms all the way up to your shoulders and hold for three breaths, feeling the tension, and then just release the physical and emotional tension, and let your arms relax completely. Take three more breaths, enjoying the relaxation you feel in your arms.
L-Legs On the next breath, direct your attention down to your legs, from your hips down through your toes, allowing your attention and breath to flow through your thighs, calves, and feet. Often our legs can be shaking with anxiety, or hold tension and stress. Notice if your legs are communicating anything in this moment, and just allow them to become still if they are.
Then, gently begin to squeeze the muscles in your feet, up through your legs and around your waist, holding that tension for three breaths, noting the sensations, and then release. Take three more breaths as you feel the tension flowing out of your legs.
M-Mouth Lastly, shift your awareness to your mouth and jaw, a place where many of us hold tension and clench our muscles without realizing it.
What expression is your mouth communicating inwardly and outwardly—stress, anxiety, anger? Notice this and any other sensations in your mouth and even the rest of your head and neck. Now clench your mouth and other muscles around it, holding for three breaths and release.
As you let go of the tension, allow your mouth to relax into a small smile to yourself and to the world around you. Take a few more moments to enjoy the sensations of relaxation and smiling.
As you come to the end of your practice, you might take time to reflect on where in your body you tend to hold emotions and tension, and adjust or breathe into those areas before finishing your practice. Remember too that at any point in your busy day you might choose to check in with your body and relax yourself.
Perhaps before or during tense moments at work, after you read the news, with a partner or your family, or even before bed, you can CALM yourself down with this simple acronym.
I really think, that something that we can use for a mini body scan or relaxation practice when we are feeling flooded with strong emotions, anxiety, anger, or anything else setting off our limbic alarm system can only help. And just by being aware of our innermost feelings and bringing calm back – can be like that walk and help to ease the stresses and strains of the day or the moment! We all deal with our emotions very differently but we all need to find something to help us find a way of dealing with them.