Managing Writer Stress: Body Scan for Deeper Relaxation

By Kerry Schafer

It’s 5 am and I’m settling into the hour of morning writing time I’ve carved out of my day. In the back of my head I’m wondering where I’m going to find time for all of the other things on the list. Here’s the Coles Notes version:

1. A day job that eats about 50 hours of my week.

2. A house to maintain, complete with a dog, two cats, and a couple of fish. This week, add in a Viking on home vacation.

3. My second novel, WAKEWORLD, releasing at the very end of January. I need to be scheduling blog tours and ordering new book marks. Page proofs will be showing up any day.

4. Three e-novellas in edits, with talk of getting them produced and into the wild by the end of October.

5. Preparation for the RMFW Colorado Gold conference this weekend.

I spin a lot of plates. I like it that way.

But it can get overwhelming.

In my last post I touched on some of the many moments in a writer’s life that can be stress inducing, and using breathing techniques as one way to relax. As promised, today we are going to talk about taking relaxation one step further: the body scan.

Let me be clear that by body scan I do not mean that uncomfortable experience inflicted by sadistic people at the airport. Nope. This is a simple relaxation exercise that will take about fifteen minutes of your day.

I know fifteen minutes can seem like a lot when your life is crammed full of All The Things. But the truth is, when your mind is less cluttered and your anxiety level is lower, you’re able to be more efficient with the time you do have.

Preparation: Find a 15 minute stretch of time in which you can at least hope not to be disturbed. I dare you to silence your phone and all other electronic devices. If it’s important, they’ll call back or leave a message or instant message you later. The text messages will hold.

Process: Sit or lie in a comfortable position. Either close your eyes or use a soft gaze that is not really focused on anything. And then walk yourself through the following steps.

1. Breathe. Take those three deep breaths I talked about last time, and then settle into a regular, comfortable breathing pattern.

2. While continuing to breathe, focus your attention on your head and face. You are an explorer, not a critic. At this point you are not here to make changes. Just notice what you feel. Are your muscles tight or relaxed? Is there pain or discomfort?

3. Remember to breathe, slow and steady, in and out.

4. Now shift your attention to your neck. Again, you are just here to observe, not to change anything. Keep breathing, and just let yourself be aware of what your body is doing.

5. Taking your time and remembering to breathe, move down to your shoulders. And then your arms and hands. Upper back, lower back.

6. Attend to your chest. Be aware of the rise and fall as your breath goes in and out. Notice whether you can feel your heart beating.

7. Move down to your abdomen. Remember to keep breathing, slowly in and out.

8. Continue down your body – hips, thighs, lower legs, feet.

9. Once you have scanned your whole body, go back to your breath. Pay attention to a few breaths – in and out, slow and easy – and then imagine that you can send your breath wherever you want it to go. Think about a part of your body that felt tense or uncomfortable. When you breathe in, send the warm energy of your breath to that place. When you breathe out, let your breath carry away the tension or the pain.

10. When you are done, take another deep breath, and let your eyes come open, soft and easy. Take a minute just to be quiet and at peace.

And there you have it. An easy meditation exercise that really does help to ease muscle tension and calm your mind.

Next time: The Worry List

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Kerry Schafer’s first novel, Between, was published in February 2013 and the sequel, Wakeworld, is slated to hit shelves and e-readers on January 28, 2014. Kerry is both a licensed mental health counselor and an RN, and loves to incorporate psychological and medical disorders into her fantasy books. She is a bit of a hypocrite who does not always practice the relaxation she preaches. You can find out more on her website, www.kerryschafer.com, or find her on Twitter as @kerryschafer or on her Facebook page Kerry Schafer Books.

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About Kerry Schafer

Kerry Schafer is licensed both as a Mental Health Professional and an RN, and spends most of her daylight hours helping people--usually even with a smile. In books, she gets to blow stuff up, preferably with something more interesting than a bomb. Dragons are good; exploding giant slime toads are even better. She has published two novels with Ace Books: Between and Wakeworld. She is also the author of The Dream Wars novellas. Kerry and her Viking live in Colville, Washington, in a little house surrounded by rocks, trees, and gangs of deer and wild turkeys.

2 thoughts on “Managing Writer Stress: Body Scan for Deeper Relaxation

  1. Patricia Stoltey

    Oh my, this is such good advice. I’ll do this body scan before I get to my massage therapist today so I can tell her what’s out of whack.

    And by the way, Kerry, when you put your blog book tour for Wakeworld together, be sure to add my personal blog to your list. I have at least one guest blogger a week and sometimes two.

    Reply
  2. Julie Luek

    Hi Kerry– Oh, what Pat said, get in touch with me about your blog tour for your book. I’d be happy to be on that list too!

    I love your posts. I think taking the time to slow down and go within ourselves is so key to finding some peace in the midst of our busyness. Great advice.

    Reply

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