Eugene Farrel, Mental Health Lead for AXA Health

5 steps to coping with anxiety and stress, using the body scan

Mental Health

20 September 2016

Here are 5 steps from Eugene Farrell, our Mental Health Lead on how to practise mindfulness and relax using the body scan technique:

Sit down and relax. Start with a few minutes of mindfulness breathing practice then start to pay attention to your body. 

  1. Notice how your body feels as you sit in your chair. Can you feel the carpet under your feet on the floor? Your back against the chair? Feel the material of your clothes as your hands rest on your legs. Notice any tensions. Just be aware of them, and with every deep inhalation and exhalation, try to relax.
  2. Now start to scan your down the body, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Use the breathing skills you have learned to relax each area with each breath in and release tension with each breath out.
  3. Begin with your scalp. We tend to carry a lot of tension in the facial muscles, so spend time on each area – loosening the muscles around the temples, cheeks and jaw, before moving down to the neck and throat.
  4. With each breath, let your shoulders soften and sink down. How does your torso feel? Are you carrying any tension in your back? Do you have any sensations in the stomach? Are your arms heavy? Move this focus right the way to your fingertips.
  5. Carry the scan down to the pelvis, thighs and calves. Take your attention to each body part -- Can you feel any tweaks in your knees? Any tension around the ankle? Keep this focus going right into the tips of your toes.

It should take about 4 or 5 minutes to work through all parts of your body but take as long as you need to fully scan every part. Keep breathing deeply and take a moment to notice how your whole body feels.

Take your time to come out of the practice, don’t feel you have to hurry.

You can practise this as often as you like, but try to work up to 10 minutes every day so you have time to really listen to your body.

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