Do you often feel something is weighing heavily on your chest? Do you find getting up from bed challenging or lacking the energy to do your primary tasks? These situations are what stress and anxiety usually feel like. Stress is something that everybody experiences at least once in their life. However, it becomes harmful when it starts to derail your daily activities.

While there is nothing like a cardio workout to get your physical body healthy, exercises that support your mental health are often the priority when relieving stress. This is the area where somatic exercise shines.

Somatic exercises focus on improving the connection between your body and mind rather than your fitness goals. This article will discuss seven essential somatic exercises for stress relief and self-care.

Somatic Exercises For Self-Care and Stress Relief

Somatic exercises are a form of mindful movement and bodywork that focus on your body’s internal perceptions, sensations and experiences. With somatic therapy, you focus on how you feel as you move. Besides, many people who struggle to express challenging emotions often find it easier to do so through movement.

Below are some somatic exercises you can try to relieve stress and self-care.

Diaphragmatic/Belly Breathing Exercise

You use your diaphragm to perform this exercise, which can help you activate your body’s response. To perform this exercise,

  • Find a place to lie down or sit comfortably
  • Place one of your hands on your chest and the other on your belly
  • now take a deep breath through your nose, allowing your stomach to rise as your lungs fill up with air
  • Please keep the hand on your chest as soon as possible
  • Exhale slowly out of your nose or mouth, allowing your stomach to fall
  • You can repeat this exercise for 5 to 10 minutes.

Grounding Exercise

Grounding exercises help connect you to your body and keep you in the moment.  If you worry a lot about what is happening around you, performing a grounding exercise can help reduce your feelings of being overwhelmed.

Furthermore, there are several ways to ground yourself, one of which is to simply focus on the feeling of your feet on the ground and your breath. You can also try feeling this on your face and noticing the various sounds around you.

Somatic yoga exercise

Although traditional yoga is one incredible way to ground yourself, somatic yoga takes it a step further. It combines traditional yoga with a heightened focus on your body’s internal sensations.

During this exercise, which is anchored by a certified yoga instructor, you’ll be encouraged to explore various movements slowly. This particular form of yoga lets you pay close attention to how each of those movements feels rather than the specific pose you are striking.

Additionally, somatic yoga exercises can help you enhance body awareness, release tension and improve flexibility. This can help you better understand your emotional and physical experiences.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) Exercise

PMR is one of the best exercises that addresses flight or fight symptoms. This relaxation exercise helps you reduce anxiety and stress by having you slowly relax and tense your morsel.


The belief behind this exercise is that your body cannot have anxiety symptoms but warm and relaxed feelings.

To perform this exercise,

  • Slowly tense your muscles, but not to the point where you strain them.
  • Pay attention to how each muzzle tension feels.
  • Slowly relax your muscles and pay attention to how the relaxation muscles feel.
  • Repeat the process with muscles in other parts of your body.

Self-Hug Exercises

Research has shown that hugs can reduce stress by boosting happy hormones. Self-hugs are a form of grounding exercise that helps you tap into your body’s healing system through touch.

To perform this exercise,

  • Find a place to sit or stand still
  • Close your eyes and feel your breath moving in and out of your nose
  • Relax your face slowly and feel the warmth of your heart.
  • Wrap your arms around your chest and heart
  • Take a deep breath through your nose, hood it in and then exhale slowly
  • Pay close attention to how you feel as you do this.

The Voo Breathing Technique

The Voo breathing technique activates the vagus nerve, which controls the body’s response to stress.


To perform this exercise,

  • Find a comfortable and quiet place where you can rest without being disturbed.
  • Sit and place your feet on the floor. You can close your eyes if you want
  • Pay attention to your breath and try to notice their sensation as they go in and out of your nose
  • Breathe in deeply. Make sure you are breathing into your belly and not your chest.
  • Now breathe out by making a ‘Voo’ sound. Like you’re making a deep foghorn sound.
  • Let the sound resonate and vibrate through your arms,  legs and chest.
  • Repeat this for 3 to 5 minutes.

Walking Meditation Exercise

Walking meditation is designed to bring your mind and body into focus when you feel stressed out and disconnected. It combines mindful exercise with physical movement.

To perform this;

  • Start walking at a comfortable but slow pace
  • Be mindful of your surroundings and sensations around you.
  • Pay close attention to your breathing and the movement of your arms and legs.
  • If your mind starts to wander, gently focus on the sensation of your feet on the ground to bring your mind back to the present moment.

Final Summary

Managing stress and practicing self-care are essential to ensure optimal physical and mental well-being. Although stress is a part of being alive, it can become detrimental to your health when it goes unmanaged.

One proven way to manage stress and care for yourself is to perform somatic exercises. The exercises listed in this article will help you connect your mind and body while keeping you focused on the present.

If you feel like your stress levels have elevated to the point where even these exercises don’t work, then it might be time to seek the help of a professional therapist.