© 2013 Kebba Buckley Button. World Rights Reserved.
Are your shoulders and your neck tight and painful? Here are several two-minute LifeTools(sm) that can take you straight to the Secret Energized You. To start, touch the top of each of your shoulders, and note how hard or soft each feels. Give each shoulder a score of one- to ten. A score of one is for very relaxed shoulder tops that feel like pudding. Ten is the score for shoulder tops that feel like concrete. Left and right may be very different. Got your starting scores?
Everyone knows that stress can register in the body and make many physical areas tight, tired, or painful. You can even get sick from stress. But few know this secret: the shoulders take the biggest squeeze from stress and can be your secret weapon to unlock that stress.
We have many phrases that suggest the shoulders are a hub for stress storage in the body. We talk about “shouldering a burden” and “squaring our shoulders” to prepare for a challenge. We speak of “shouldering forward” to make progress in a competition or a thick crowd. We say, “The responsibility landed square on his shoulders.”
Feel your shoulder tops again. Are they at the same index or even tighter following the discussion of what can tighten them? How old do you feel now?
We talk about “taking on the yoke of responsibility” for a long-term role or job, suggesting that “the weight of responsibility” is to be supported on the shoulders in the way that an ox or a team of oxen “shoulder the yoke” to plow forward with their work. Different kinds of thoughts lodge in different parts of our anatomy. According to Chinese medicine, the question “How am I going to solve it?” is understood to lodge in the shoulder tops, in the cross-fibers of the trapezius muscle group, and in several sets of connected neck muscles. When these muscles are tight, they squeeze on the nerves that pass through them.
Great shoulder stress then means you will have tight facial muscles. This leads, eventually, to age lines in your face. Also, ear discomfort and ringing, head pain, loss of concentration, and tooth pain can all be caused by shoulder stress. When tight shoulder-top muscles squeeze the brachial plexus nerve group, which serves the arms, this stress can cause arm fatigue and impairment of your fingers, sometimes with pain, numbness, or electric-shock sensations. General shoulder-level muscle tightness, especially over a period of time, impairs circulation to the remainder of the body and can cause great fatigue. All this will make you feel old!
So what can you do? The good news is, you can “unshoulder your burdens” to a great degree, quickly and at no cost. Unshouldering is actually easy, and you will relieve your pain, fatigue, and premature facial aging. Try these three LifeTools:
- Run in place for two minutes. Check your shoulder-top scores, left and right. They should be down a bit. Your feet and hands may feel warm now.
- Take two minutes and stretch your shoulders gently in every direction you can think of. Make it a silly game, as if you were a child getting up from one of those cramped little school desks, stretching your arms and winding them around everywhere. Feel how this movement stretches out your shoulders and how glorious that new circulation feels in your upper torso, head, and face. Check your shoulder-top scores again, left and right. They should be down one or two points.
- For two minutes, think of anything that makes you smile and laugh, such as that goofy look your pet gives you when you run in place and stretch about strangely in your living room. Check your shoulder-top scores once more. At this point, most people’s Stress Self-Assessment scores are down at least four points from their starting scores; they feel younger and healthier, and their hands are more flexible. They may feel a pleasant warmth or tingling in the feet.
Look at your initial scores and the age you said you felt six minutes ago. How young do you feel now? Turn this shoulder-loosening experiment into a twice-daily habit. Add your own variations, and soon you’ll be discovering more of your secret energy and beating stress’s biggest squeeze.
● Kebba Buckley Button is a corporate stress management trainer and the author of the award-winning book, Discover The Secret Energized You, and the 2012 book, Peace Within: Your Peaceful Inner Core. She also has a natural healing practice and is an ordained minister.
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