simple pain hacks

Menstrual Cycle Rescue - 7 women standing in a row laughing - stress relief

How to clear stress from your body

So it’s the end of another year. I don’t know about you, but I can still feel the 2022 stress hanging around in my body.

It shows up as tension and a mild aching below my ribs that I can’t quite let go, and feeling tired even in the mornings.

It’s essential to clear stress from our bodies so we can clear it from our minds, so I’m taking some time in this liminal ‘nothing’ week between the crazy Xmas and New Year intensities to release my pressure valve.


First, I’m returning to my favourite book of the year, Burnout: solve your stress cycle by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. I really can’t recommend it highly enough if you have stress stored in your body too…..which is, um, all of us nowadays!

Here are their recommendations for releasing stress:

  1. ANY physical activity is ‘the single most efficient strategy for completing the stress response cycle’. It’s ‘what tells your brain you have successfully survived’ whatever threats you’ve experienced. So walk, run, cycle, dance in your lounge room like nobody’s watching, or just shake your whole body for a couple of minutes like a deer that’s just out-run a lion. You’ll feel SO much better – do it daily, if you (like most people) get re-stressed everyday.
  2. Slow breathing – deep, slow breaths with a longer exhale helps your brain and body switch out of fight/flight/freeze and into rest/digest/restore, where all healing and recovery can happen.
  3. Positive social interaction – a brief, friendly chat with a cashier at the shops, your coffee barista, or a friendly neighbour helps to reassure your brain/body that the world is a safer place.
  4. Having a big belly laugh with someone – helps with social bonding and turns down the volume on the stress response, relaxing muscles and sending good vibes through body and brain.
  5. Affection – physical or not, with someone you love and trust who loves and trusts you. Try a 20 second hug, which can ” change your hormones, lower your blood pressure and heart rate and improve mood” and even increase oxytocin, the social-bonding hormone.
  6. Having a good cry – it might not solve problems but it completes the stress cycle in your body so you can recover physically. Turn on your favourite ten-tissue movie to get your tears flowing! 
  7. Creative expression – doing anything creative can be a great way to express and release big emotions in a socially acceptable way.

Deep Rest in 15 Minutes

And my other go-to technique for releasing stress from my body is something I call the Deep Rest technique – try it today:

Lie on your back on the floor with your legs up on the couch (or on the bed with a pile of 4-5 pillows), rest your hands on your belly and breathe slowly and deeply for 15 minutes.

If you need help with more persistent tension and pain, book your appointment for an Ortho-Bionomy session here and start 2023 feeling great.

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soothe the body - person sleeping

Soothe your body to calm your mind

Because we’ve collectively experienced a lot of trauma over the past 2 years, many of us are currently feeling a deep sense of exhaustion, also known as burnout and even depression. This often comes with an intensification of our physical symptoms too; when our brains feel unsafe they sometimes amplify our tension or pain to make us reach out to someone for help.

Despite being cloistered at home so much in recent times we are simultaneously living outside of ourselves, desperately looking for signs from the external environment that things are ‘normal’, that the danger has passed. And when we’re looking outside of ourselves for things to make us feel better, we usually find something – often more than one thing – that makes us feel worse.

So what to do? How can you stop spiralling into burnout, feeling guilty about not being able to do anything about the big traumatic events happening in the world and ending up in a heap, unable to look after our families or ourselves or get out of bed each day?

Soothe the body to calm the mind

The best way I know to help yourself is to come home to your body. It’s the only thing that’s with you in every moment. It’s the only place where you can create a tangible, repeatable feeling of safety, a sense of being in control. It’s the only place where you can really take care of yourself. And taking care of yourself is the only way to start making a difference in the world, when everything else is out of your control.

Traumatic and stressful events are emotionally – and physically – exhausting. Our recovery from them requires two things:

1. Complete the stress cycle

We must release the built-up charge from our bodies so that we don’t stay in the stress cycle. There are examples of this in Nature – when the deer outruns the lion it shakes all over and leaps about, discharging the excess adrenaline, sweating and releasing the intense energy from its muscles – and signalling safety throughout its nervous system. This is a great model for us too, because we, like deer, are animals in Nature (though we deny it to ourselves). The difference is that we live with constant daily stresses, so we must actively release the charge every day to complete the stress cycle and return to a calm baseline, allowing our bodies to repair, recover and restore. Some great ways to do this are

  • walking, running, cycling, swimming – any exercise that increases your heart rate
  • punching or screaming into a pillow
  • dancing (on a dancefloor or in the loungeroom)
  • laughing – with kids, with friends, at funny movies
  • rolling around on the ground outside – with kids or animals if you have them (with the added bonus of connecting with the immune system-supporting natural biome)

2. Deliberately, intentionally R E S T

Resting is one of our superpowers – one we vastly underestimate. We must rest as a matter of course every day. It should be scheduled in – it’s a non-negotiable basic daily need, like drinking water, moving and eating real food. Nature is always seeking to repair and restore balance and your body is the same. You don’t need to force it to repair itself, it happens naturally given the right conditions – one of which is rest.

Fortunately the Ortho-Bionomy self-care techniques offer a way to deliberately take your body into a deep resting state to soothe your body AND calm your mind. One of the ways we do this is by using the principle of exaggeration. It assumes your body knows best what it needs right now.

Test it now:

  1. Sitting where you are now, close your eyes and tune in to your sit bones – the two big bones under your butt. Is your weight evenly balanced on both sides, or do you feel more weight on one side?
  2. If it’s the latter, normally we would try to ‘fix’ it, to correct it by adding more weight on the lighter side to even it up. Instead, I want you to try exaggerating what is present by leaning slightly towards the side that feels heavier to add more weight to that side.
  3. Stay there for about 30 seconds, breathing slowly, then move back to the centre.
  4. Now notice again how the weight is distributed on your sit bones. Do you still have the same imbalance with more weight on one side, or has it changed?

When I use this with clients, they almost always notice the weight has at least changed – if not completely balanced. This happens because your exaggeration of the imbalance has acknowledged something your body needed – with gentleness, not force – and your brain has responded by restoring balance.

You can use this with any part of your body that feels tight or sore. Find a way to exaggerate the positioning or tension in that area – e.g. if your shoulders are held up towards your ears, position them up closer to your ears while lying down (so you don’t have to hold them up) and relax into the position, breathing slowly for up to a minute. Then slowly sit up and notice the changes and responses in your body (in your physical body and also in your breathing, emotions and thoughts).

This process brings you into a calmer state because it also brings your whole self – brain/nervous system/body/mind – into present time, into your body, into your breath. And it avoids re-traumatising you because you’re not talking about the things that are stressing you.

I hope this helps you feel better, even for a few minutes. If you’d like to share your experience with me, email me from the Contact page or send me a DM via Instagram.

Image credit: Shane – Unsplash

Jaw pain relief techniques

How to relieve jaw pain and save your teeth

Do you suffer from jaw pain or clench your teeth while sleeping? Learn to prevent it and save your teeth.

I went to see my dentist recently. We (well, mostly she, because my mouth was occupied) chatted while she worked. I learned that the no.1 thing she did in 2020 was make mouth guards for her patients. The aim was to relieve jaw pain and help them stop grinding their teeth. She believed that the extra stress her patients were experiencing from COVID-19 was creating the increased jaw tension and pain they were reported.

I remembered when I used to clench my teeth during sleep, at a stressful time in my life. Happily I was able to stop it and save my teeth by using some simple Ortho-Bionomy techniques to reduce the tension and pain.

In case this helps you or someone you know, here’s how to do it:

General muscle tension release:

When you hold a lot of tension in your jaw it often feels really tight and possibly sore in the strong chewing muscles at either side of your face. These extend from your cheekbones just below your eyes down to the jaw bone below your lower teeth. It might also hurt around your jaw joints just in front of your ears.

To give these muscles a rest, first place your palms on your cheeks with fingers pointing upwards along the sides of your head. Support your jaw bone with the base of your palms and press very gently upwards to allow your cheeks to soften under your hands. Close your eyes and breathe slowly for a minute or more (this is a good stress-reliever too). Then try the steps below:

3-Step Release for Jaw Joint:

  1. First, hold your lower jaw bone lightly with your fingertips on both sides of your chin. Move your jaw slightly (using your fingertips) to one side and then the other, noting which side feels better, moves more easily or feels more comfortable. Then move it to the side that felt better and hold it there for 5-10 seconds before allowing it to return to a neutral position.
  2. Next, with your fingertips lightly on your jaw bone again, this time slide it slightly forwards (as if jutting your chin out), then back (towards your neck), again noting which feels better. Hold it gently in that preferred position for 5-10 seconds before letting it return to neutral.
  3. Now use your fingertips on the sides of your jaw bone to guide your mouth open a little way, then guide it closed, noting which felt better. Then hold it gently in that easier or better position for 5-10 seconds.

Be gentle!

Your jaw muscles are super strong and work really hard. Plus we often hold tension there when we’re stressed, angry or tired. So it’s really important to work gently here – if you push too hard in the movements shown above, it can just overwork these muscles even more. If you go gently and breathe slowly, you’ll notice your whole body relaxing.

Use these as often as you like. They’re especially useful first thing in the morning if you wake with jaw pain or tension, and again before you go to sleep at night to reduce the build-up of tension. You can also reduce jaw tension by releasing neck tension – I’ll be covering this in an upcoming newsletter and blog post. 

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Did this help you? Let me know in the comments below.

Image credit: Houcine Nib – Unsplash

working from home - woman looking at laptop on kitchen counter

How to avoid pain working from home

Are you one of the billions of people working from home globally right now?

In theory it sounds easy – just get the technology hooked up and you can work anywhere, right?

That’s right – but our bodies are being left out of the picture.

Since our homes aren’t designed for us to spend long hours at the computer, I know some of you are experiencing increased pain and tension from this temporary(?) situation. So how can you avoid pain working from home?

First: Sit right

Nowadays most chairs aren’t designed for sustainable, comfortable sitting because they have a ‘dip’ down towards the back of the seat. This looks comfortable but actually doesn’t support our natural sitting posture. It encourages us to slump back towards the tailbone (coccyx) instead of sitting right over our ‘sitting bones’ – the big bone in each buttock at the base of our pelvis.

Which chair?

Ideally the seat of your chair should be flat (like the stool shown in the photo) or slightly sloping down at the front (not the back). If it’s not, just fill up the dip by placing a cushion or a rolled/folded towel on the dip.

You’ll notice you can instantly sit up ‘straight’ more naturally just by doing this, because your pelvis is providing a good foundation for your whole spine. You can even put a few books on the seat like I did with the library chair I used in the photo below (they were my own books ;). 

Fill the dip in your chair for better posture support
Flat seat supports natural posture

I have lots more to share including some simple but powerful pain-relief techniques, so I’ve packed the rest into a detailed guide – fill in the form below to get your copy today.

Image credit: LinkedIn – Unsplash

support baby's natural posture - woman carrying baby on her back

How to support your baby’s natural posture

Have you noticed the epidemic of poor posture in our society? We know this is connected with using mobile phones and other devices daily, but how can you help your children develop good posture habits so they can avoid the chronic back, neck and shoulder pain so widespread in adults today? Can you support your baby’s natural posture from the start?

The first thing you can do right at the start of their lives which supports your own and your baby’s natural posture at the same time is to carry your baby on your back.

This is not new; mothers in traditional societies have been doing this for thousands of years. I’m sure you’ve seen many images of women carrying their babies and even older children on their backs, even while working or walking long distances.

What you won’t have seen are images of mothers carrying babies on their front!

And yet, there are many baby carrier products on the market today, most of which encourage carrying a baby on the front of the parent’s body.

Of course, this is okay while your baby is tiny – and I remember really needing to carry my newborn babies nestled on my belly for their first couple of months.

But after the first few months they are heavy enough to be moved onto your back. This doesn’t require expensive equipment – just look up instructions for wrapping your baby in a sling on your back.

Any new parent knows there are many demands on your back when you have a new baby to lift many times a day and carry around, so it’s SUPER important to minimize the impact on your body as well.  

It’s FAR better for your own posture and the health of your back muscles to carry any heavy weight on your back, which is why Nepalese Sherpas and other people who carry heavy weights for a living do the same. (They often carry big items on their heads too, though this is unsuitable for a baby!). 

With your baby on your back you will be supporting much of their bodyweight evenly balanced on your hips. Lean your upper body slightly forward from the hips, keeping your back straight without letting your shoulders slump forward. It’s the same principle as carrying a backpack evenly balanced on your back instead of a heavy bag on one shoulder.

When you carry your baby on your front, their weight pulls your shoulders and torso forward and your body has to counter this pull by tightening the muscles of the upper back around and between the shoulder blades. You’ll also notice you need to push your hips forward to avoid overbalancing and falling forwards.

This can create aching or stabbing pains in the upper back along with low back pain caused by compression of the base of your spine into your hips.

Your baby’s natural posture is also supported better when carried on your back because their own pelvis sits slightly behind them while their upper body is resting along your straight back. When they are carried on your front their body is crumpled up in a forward curve – the precursor to the adult forward-hunch posture. Unfortunately baby car capsules and most child car seats do the same thing, pushing the pelvis forward and curving the baby’s upper spine forwards.

So give their posture the best start you can by carrying them on your back when you need to be mobile. And be sure to give them plenty of time to lie on the floor during the day when they’re awake as well (with time on their back and their front) to stretch out their spines and move their arms and legs.

And if you need support for back, hip or shoulder pain associated with your pregnancy, birth or new parenthood, book an appointment to see me for in-person sessions in Melbourne or for online coaching.

This information is offered as information only and should not replace medical diagnosis or treatment or be considered medical advice.