Has the stress of the past year left you feeling tight and achy? You’re not alone. For most of us, isolation has meant less movement, more stress, and fewer moments of joy. 

When heavy energy builds up with no way to release it, pain is often the result. Just as the ancient practice of acupuncture teaches us, when energy becomes stuck it the body it must be released to re-establish balance. The good news is, you have three “easy-access” tools at your fingertips you can use to release your tension, return to balance, and lessen your pain almost instantly.

Let’s begin with the most powerful easy-access tool for pain relief…your breath. A rhythmic breath practice shifts your nervous system from a “fight or flight” response into “rest and digest,” reducing your stress chemicals and replacing them with chemicals of relaxation.

Try this rhythmic breath practice: inhale through your nose for a count of five, hold for five, exhale for five, then hold the breath out for five. Repeat for four cycles. Instant relaxation! 

Simple movement is the second easy-access tool for pain relief. The body holds old, protective patterns of tension that limit your range of motion and increase your pain. Gentle movement, modified for your unique condition, releases pain by stretching and releasing the patterns of tension in your muscles, nerves, tendons and ligaments. 

Try this simple movement exercise: sit upright, face forward, shoulders dropped and chin slightly tucked. Inhale deeply. Exhale dropping left ear to left shoulder. Inhale head back up to center. Exhale, dropping right ear to right shoulder. Repeat three times then inhale deeply, hold and release. Ahh…relief!

The last easy-access tool for drug-free pain relief is developing inner focus. Weaving inner focus with breath and modified movement is the key. To develop your inner focus, notice what you’re experiencing in each moment without trying to change anything. This practice increases self-compassion and guides you to become curious, interested, and aware. When you are aware, you are present. 

Try this inner focus exercise: close your eyes and take a breath. Bring your attention to the brow point, the place where the bridge of the nose meets the forehead. Let your attention rest at the brow point. Breathe. Just watch your experience from within with your mind’s eye. Your mind will be busy thinking. That’s okay because thinking is the nature of the mind. But don’t let the mind carry your attention away for too long. When you notice your attention has wandered, bring it back to the brow point. Breathe and focus at the brow point for just a few minutes.

Now you have three powerful easy-access tools at your fingertips for less pain, more energy and increased joy. With a little regular practice over time, they can be your go-to for drug-free pain relief.

Laya Raznick is the resident health coach for NBC Palm Springs and the lead instructor for The Daily Reset Class online. She can be reached at [email protected] or for more information, visit www.LayaRaznick.com.

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