Thursday, January 3, 2019

1-Minute Neck Roll for Stress Reduction

How do you know when you're stressed? You feel it in your body.

One of the areas where stress shows up frequently is the neck. In addition to radiating tension from clenching your jaw, having your head down and forward looking at your phone a hundred times a day adds extra physical stress. 

Cellphone Neck Stress

The average human head weighs about 12 pounds. Bend your head forward and the effective weight on the cervical spine will be much higher. Tilt your head to a 15-degree angle, the weight on the cervical spine more than doubles to about 27 pounds. Greater head extension can result of an effective weight of as much as 60 pounds.

One obvious way to reduce neck strain is to keep your head straight up and lower your eyes to read your phone. It will take practice to break your "head forward" habit, but it's worth the effort.

1-Minute Neck Roll

One great way to release neck stress is to do gentle head rolls. If you have cervical spine or other neck injure, please talk with your doctor before doing any neck involved exercise.

Set a timer or look at your watch in preparation for this 1-minute experience.

Phase 1:

  • Sit or stand with good posture, head up.
  • Slowly, slowly allow your head to rise and then gently drop forward. Your head will find a natural stopping place. Don't force your neck forward. Rather, allow gravity to release the tight muscles and your head will naturally drop until your chin rests on your upper chest.
  • Begin to slowly, slowly rotate your head toward your left shoulder. Allow the natural movement of your head to continue until your head is again erect.
  • Again, allow your head to gently and slowly drop down until your chin again rests on your upper chest.
  • Slowly and gently roll your head toward your right shoulder. Allow the natural movement to continue until your head is again erect.

Repeat 3 times slowly, gently.

Phase 2:

  • After the third rotation, bring shoulders up and gently and slowly rotate your shoulders backward and then forward.
  • Finish by stretching your arms outward and then stretching your fingertips outward as far as comfortable. 
  • Bring arms up over your head (assuming there is no injury restricting this movement) and then bring your hands together at the top of the overhead stretch. 
  • Slowly lower your hands keeping them together and stop with both hands at your middle chest area in the prayer position.
  • Stretch out once again, yawn, sigh, and return to your activities.

This easy neck roll and stretching routine will take about a minute, but you'll feel calm and relaxed for hours.

More Stress Reduction Tips

For more Stress Mastery tips, read previous blog posts on the site and listen to episodes of our "Mind Over Stress" podcast by visiting

Stephen Carter

Stress Solutions, LLC | | Podcast: