Taking time out to do a simple exercise to check in on your body can be the last thing on your mind when you’re going through a difficult period in your life. At times like these, we become so focused on the problem; we forget about the good things in our life. 

 We struggle to focus on how to start making life a little easier for ourselves.  Taking time out means we can manage our emotional and physical health a little more easily rather than being a slave to them.

There are going to be periods when it feels difficult to celebrate the lovely parts of your life because your thoughts are being dominated by the struggles you are going through.  In the thick of these times, we forget the simple things that we can do to bring our emotional and mental health back into balance.

Why do we need to check in on our body?

It is common knowledge that we should do physical checks. For us women, it’s checking their breasts. And for you guys out there, it’s about checking your testicles, for obvious signs of cancer. But what I want to talk about is checking in on the whole of your body to see where the stresses and strains are. Helping you to be in a better position to manage them, treat them accordingly be in a happier and healthier place in life.

 The other day, I spotted a post by an enduro mountain bike rider. He said, “It isn’t the more expensive, newer bike parts that necessarily make you go faster, it’s your body and how you look after it.” I noticed that he’d been having some sports massage; helping him get rid of the toxins in the muscles, so his body would recover more quickly. Enabling him to perform a lot more effectively.

The importance of checking in on our body.

It’s very easy to only think about your body when you’ve got aches and pains. But it’s also important to look after your body and check in with it even when there are no complaints. Otherwise, we can get complacent, and the aches and pains can creep up again.

A simple exercise to check in on your body.

I would like to share this great little exercise; it only takes a couple of minutes but it will help you notice what’s going on in your body. Notice the tension in your muscles, so that you can do something about it.

Steps to check in on your body.

Step1, Getting comfortable

To help you concentrate on this exercise, get yourself comfortable by spending a few moments preparing yourself.

  • Just stop what you’re doing for a few moments.
  • Turn the cooker off.
  • Shut your laptop.
  • Turn your phone off.
  • Ask the kids to give you a few moments of peacefulness.
  • Turn the telly off.
  • Find a quiet place to sit down.

(If you are having a hectic day another great time to do this is at the end of your day when you have got into bed.)

Step 2, Breathe

Shut your eyes, to block out any further distractions.

Now you are sitting comfortably, shut your eyes.

Take three lovely deep breaths in through your nose over the count of three.  Hold for three, and then breathe out through your mouth for three.

Repeat this three times.

Step 3 Checking in on your body

Your Feet and ankles

We’re going to start from your feet and work up through your body to learn which muscles are holding your tension.

I hope you’ve got your feet flat on the floor. I want you to concentrate on the muscles in your feet and ankles. How are they feeling? Give your toes and ankles a little bit of a wiggle and see what they’re like. Then curl your toes up and then stretch them out. Gently manipulate your ankles to help release the tension.

Your Carves

Now move up to your carves.  Give your carves a little bit of a squeeze how are they feeling? Are they feeling tight and tense or feeling loose, soft, and relaxed? Whilst taking a deep breath in and out tense your muscles and relax.

Your knees and thighs

Now move up through your knees and into your thighs.  How are your thighs feeling? Check the front and the backs of your thighs. Are they feeling tight and tense? Or are they feeling nice and relaxed? Tense the muscles up, hold and relax.

Your buttocks

Next move to your buttocks. A lot of us don’t consider our bottom unless we are checking to see how it looks in those jeans.  The condition of your buttocks will affect how your legs and back are feeling. If they are feeling a little bit tight, tense them up, relax, and give your hips a little wiggle.

Your back

I want you to move up to your back. Think about your lower back, the middle and the top of your back. This is where so many people have a lot of problems. If you think about it, it’s a very complex structure. 

 Your spine is made of a mass of refined little joints running from the base of your skull to your tailbone.  Check-in with the base of your back, the middle, and the top of your back which includes your shoulders. Tense the muscles, hold, relax and breathe.

Your shoulders and neck

Now concentrate on your shoulders and neck.  This is where most people carry the stresses and the strains. As you breathe give your shoulders and neck a gentle little wiggle. How are they feeling?

Your arms, wrists and hands

Moving onto your arms, wrists, and hands.  Give all the joints and gentle wiggle, tensing and releasing the muscles.

Your face and head

In the final part of this exercise, focus on your head and face.  We carry a lot of tension in our faces. Have a feel-around, almost rather like having a mini facial. We are using these muscles constantly and letting others know how we’re feeling. It’s important to look after them because if you’re very anxious or very stressed over a long period, it shows in our face.  This can age us dramatically. Our facial muscles hold all the tension from the worries and concerns, roles and responsibilities we carry with us through our life, our work, and our self-beliefs.

The tension in your shoulders and neck is going to go up into your scalp. If you’re getting a lot of headaches, and migraines, this might be a sign of anxiety and tension that you’re carrying lower down in your body. Making time for some relaxation, quiet time when you can do some simple breathing and relaxation tension and releasing exercises as I have explained here is important.  You could experiment with doing this outside alongside listening to the birds or some music.  If it’s cold, then put a few extra clothes on because the fresh air will support your mental well-being.

Step 4, Breathe

And then, take three deep breaths in through your nose, hold, and then out through your mouth.

The benefits to check in on your body

Learning how to manage your body means you are more in control of how life affects you.  These exercises practised regularly will help to maintain your emotional well-being.  They will help reduce your anxiety and stress levels and help you manage difficult situations.  Helping you gain more control over your thoughts and feelings.  You will soon start noticing the difference and feel like celebrating life again.

About the Author

Cath Lloyd

British TEDx Speaker, life coach and author of “When Dad Became Joan” with her second booking coming out at the end of 2023, Cath Lloyd was a shy and unconfident student at school. Learning from her life experiences has developed her confidence, enabling her to share her voice, ideas, thoughts and feelings.

Cath has spoken on local radio, Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour as well as many podcast shows. Cath is promoting the importance of self-honesty to learn and understand yourself. The other is, communication is one of the keys to keeping your emotional, mental, and physical balance and keeping family life running more smoothly.

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