How to Shake Off Your Stress – Literally

Have you ever had a stressful day at work, only to come home and feel like you’re not able to fully relax due to still feeling the stress from the day?  

This is extremely common and is a result of the sympathetic nervous system responding to the stress of the day. The sympathetic nervous system triggers the “fight/flight” response, where your body prepares itself to react to perceived dangers.  

This response could include dilated pupils, increased heart rate, or an overall feeling of being on edge and sometimes our bodies stay stuck in this response. What we need is some help to fully move into the parasympathetic nervous system, or the state of “rest and digest”.  

Shake Off Your Stress 

There are many tools that can be helpful in navigating this process, one of which is the practice of shaking.  

According to Psychology Today, “Shaking sends a signal that the danger has passed and that the fight-or- flight system can turn off.” 

To engage in this practice, it’s as simple as it sounds, you dedicate a certain amount of time to shake and move your body in whatever way feels good.  

So why shaking?  Shaking your body is a way to deactivate the sympathetic response and switch into the parasympathetic response, where your body can relax and focus on other bodily functions instead of preparing itself to run or fight.  

Where Does This Practice Come From?  

The practice of shaking is not new, and in fact, all mammals shake. If you look at a dog or a deer after a fight or brush with death, they’ll “shake off” what they just experienced.  

By shaking, these animals release the energy experienced and open an opportunity to move forward. Most humans don’t have practices like this, which oftentimes leaves our bodies feeling stuck in this fight/flight response.  

When we don’t move through stressful energy, it becomes pent up and leaves us feeling like we’re always on edge or not able to fully rest. Simply put, shaking is a way to move the old stressful energy out of our bodies and as a result we can begin feeling more relaxed.  

According to this Healthline article, “Shaking helps to release muscular tension, burn excess adrenaline, and calm the nervous system to its neutral state, thereby managing stress levels in the body.” 

Are There Rules to Shaking? 

So how do you incorporate a shaking practice?  

After a stressful day, start by shaking your body in whatever way feels good, set a timer for around 5-10 minutes. Try not to judge your movements and instead honor your body however it needs to move.  

It may surprise you how much stored stress your body begins to release through this practice. It may not look “cool”, but it’s a great opportunity to let loose at the end of the day and you may end up even having a laugh at yourself.   

Next time you feel stressed after a long day, try this tip, and shake it out!! 

For more support on finding balance in your work/school and personal life, please check out our other mental health articles or reach out to Amaze by connecting through your account or calling (720) 577-5251.