Welcome back to Monday Mindfulness, brought to you by Stop, Breathe & Think.
Going into a new week is tough. We believe the best way to start it off right is with a little peace of mind. Here’s one quick and simple way to establish emotional wellness, every day.
Calm your mind and energize your body with this stress-relieving exercise called the body scan. Our bodies and emotions are deeply connected, which is why we feel butterflies in our stomach when we’re nervous and tension in our shoulders when we’re stressed.
When life gets hectic, it’s easy to switch into autopilot, unaware of what you’re actually experiencing inside, physically and emotionally, as you power through your day. Tuning in to the physical sensations in your body is a great way to connect with what’s going on in your mind.
To do a body scan, simply focus your attention on each part of your body with open curiosity — without judging or trying to change anything. Here is a simple sequence to guide you through the body scan while lying down or sitting in a chair:
Take a few deep breaths, paying attention to your breath as it goes in and out. Slowly scan your body from head to toe, bringing your attention to each area. Then follow these steps:
- Start with the top of your head, moving to the sides of your head.
- Now move to your face, forehead, eyes, mouth and jaw.
- And now to the neck and shoulders…
- …to your upper arms, forearms, wrists and hands.
- Take note of any sensations you may feel, without judging or trying to change anything.
- Now move to the torso, the chest and upper back.
- Be aware of your heartbeat and your breathing.
- Pay attention to your stomach and lower back.
- Notice any thoughts that may be running through your mind, and just let them go, bringing your attention back to your body.
- Notice your hips, thighs and knees.
- Down to the the shins, calves, ankles and feet.
- Become aware of your body as a whole, and feel how your whole body is connected.
- Finally, bring your attention back to your breath, and, for a few moments, feel your entire body expand and contract with each inhale and exhale.
This simple practice can be done as often as you like. Studies have shown that regular practice of the body scan can reduce stress and have a positive effect on emotional and physical well-being. To include a body scan in your daily routine, try this eight-minute audio track by Stop, Breathe & Think, or download the app to access additional mindfulness exercises and to track your progress.