Christmas season has arrived and this means that life can get a bit crazy with finding the time to come up with ideas for Xmas presents for your loved ones who seem to have everything, shopping for the presents, and then let’s not even talk about what the Xmas dinner is going to look like (or who is going to prepare it)!
During this time, I’ve found that, contrary to the expectation that work should be winding down for holidays, it gets busy, with everyone wanting everything done before Christmas so that they can all go for a break! Xmas is a prime time for stress – and a physical symptom of stress is sore/tight neck and shoulders (with this potentially leading to the development of migraines and headaches).
Here’s a couple of ways you can try to alleviate the pain or reduce headaches:
Massage the base of your skull – where your neck meets the skull:
Ideally get someone else to do this for you but if not you can massage the area at the base of your skull. This may be quite tender to touch but the tenderness is evidence that your muscles are under strain.
Rub the area on each side of your sternum:
The front of your chest leading up to your neck and shoulders is surrounded by fascia (connective tissue) and a muscle which is called the platysma. By rubbing this area, you’re breaking the tension in the fascia and muscle which may alleviate some of the neck and shoulder pain that you are feeling.
Massage the point where your deltoid meets your upper arm:
If you place your palm with fingers facing down from the top of your arm at the shoulder, the area to massage is pretty much where the tip of your third finger lands. This can be quite tender when you massage it but bear with it as it’ll help.
Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant so you can try taking the supplement, spray some magnesium spray on the areas of tension, or soak in an Epsom salt bath for at least ½ hr.
When we’re stressed out, we tend to breathe from the top half of our body instead of from our diaphragm. Our diaphragm is meant to be the main breathing muscle but unfortunately we don’t use it that much – we use the secondary muscles of respiration which includes some of the neck muscles. Over use of neck muscles can lead to tightness. So the best piece of advice is to notice when you’re stressed out and then focus your awareness on breathing from the belly. When you inhale, poke your belly out, and when you exhale, bring it towards your spine. You may find after you’ve done a few deep breathes like this, all of a sudden it’s easier for you to handle the stress.