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3 Easy Self-Massage Techniques to Calm Your Body and Mind

Three simple movements to ground and refresh you in moments of stress.

Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

“Self-care” could be a contender for the word of the year, as the pandemic and other stressors linger. Self-care is sometimes associated with salons, spas and retreats. But to truly care for yourself does not require an appointment, a fee or special equipment.

Really, all you need to do to practice self-care is to decide to do something nurturing, refreshing and loving for yourself. Enter self-massage. In a very short period of time—as little as 30 seconds to two minutes—you can signal your mind and body to relax and release tension and pain. Because it’s such a small investment of time, you can easily practice self-massage a few times a day to reinforce its benefits.

Start with these three techniques to soothe places in your body where stress tends to settle.

1)  Belly Rub

Lie down comfortably on the floor and take a few slow, deep breaths. With your palm or fingertips, begin to rub your belly in a clockwise circle, starting at your lower-right pelvic bone, moving up over your belly button, and then back down and around. Move slowly and steadily, pressing more or less deeply as your body allows. This technique can encourage smooth digestion and encourage the “knots” that form in your stomach to release.

2)  ​Neck Soother

Necks have a very important job—they’re tasked with holding up our heads, and the precious brains therein. No wonder tension often creeps into the muscles around our necks and into the occipitals, a set of tiny muscles that connect the top of the spine to the skull. The Cleveland Clinic recommends a little exploratory work to find out where your tension is bunched up, anywhere from the very bottom of your hairline on either side of your spine, to the muscles that flow away from your neck toward your shoulders. Use your fingertips or a tennis ball to find and press the tight area, applying even pressure for a few minutes. Repeat three times a day.

3)  Foot Freedom

Your feet carry you through the day. Thank them with a soothing rub by sitting comfortably on a chair and resting one foot on the opposite knee. Grasp each toe and gently rotate it clockwise and then counter-clockwise. Before moving on to the next toe, give your toe a gentle tug to align and release it. Finish by firmly grasping each side of your foot with your hands and rubbing from side to side.

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