6 Common Areas You Store Stress + How To Release Tension

OK, so you’re storing stress in your body. Now what? Well, says Parker, the first step is identifying where you’re holding on to that tension. “I ask people to body map—draw a picture of where you feel relaxed, and draw a picture of where you feel stressed,” she explains. Then, she suggests cultivating an inner gaze: Close your eyes, paying attention to your breath, and focus on where you may be holding that stress. “Just pay attention to it,” she notes. “You don’t have to do anything about it. Just notice it.” 

After you’ve targeted the specific areas you want to focus on, Parker says to breathe awareness into that aspect of your body. Here’s how: “Imagine you could feel any way in the whole, wide world that you want it to feel,” she says. “And instead of thinking about what that is, just let that answer bubble up in you. And when you get an answer within yourself, imagine that you can breathe into that feeling. And when you exhale, breathe it out and let it surround you.” 

After that breathwork, Parker says there’s usually some sort of release over time. “It doesn’t happen instantly, but maybe within about 20 minutes, when the mind comes into stillness, the body relaxes, and it releases stress.” That release also manifests differently for everyone—perhaps you feel an involuntary jerk or an emotional response like laughter, tears, or a rush of anger. Or your mind may become super busy—”mind chatter,” as Parker calls it. 

It can feel uncomfortable, but Parker recommends leaning in to that discomfort, as that’s where true healing lies. “We think, ‘Oh, goodie, I’m going to release stress. I’m going to feel great.’ Well, you will, after the fact, but while it’s happening, you may not.” Learn to welcome the discomfort.

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