Stress and stretching—does one exist when you don’t have the other? While stretching can’t always altogether eliminate your stress, it can definitely diminish it. Focus on a few downward facing dogs, and do a chest opener or two as part of your morning ritual. (Better yet, make it the last thing you do before tucking yourself in for a good night’s sleep.) When you apply the following stretches to your busy schedule, you’ll be able to breathe easy all day long.
Before You Begin
Do you need some simple rejuvenation after a stressful day of deadlines and demands? Whether you have a simple twinge of stress here and there, or a monkey on your back you just can’t seem to shake, stretching is the remedy. In other words, stretch your body free of tightness and pain (where stress manifests itself physically) and you’ll begin to feel like a brand new you.
Before starting your stretch session, remember to implement the following:
- Never stretch by ‘bouncing’ your body in motion. Stretching should be done slowly and in a controlled manner.
- Inhale and exhale with each movement you make so you’ll resist the urge to hold your breath.
- Be mindful of your movements! Stretching is a great opportunity to be present in the moment, and focus on the stretch—and stretch only. Free your mind from worry, upcoming responsibilities and pressure of what lies ahead.
Upward Arm Stretch
Start this exercise by sitting on a chair, a few inches away from the wall. Take a moment to make sure you’re sitting with excellent posture (straight back, making sure your weight is evenly distributed on your hips, feet planted firmly on the ground, etc.)
Raise your arms above your head, and feel your shoulders lifting and broadening as you do. Touch your hands to the wall in front of you, and allow your fingers to ‘crawl’ upwards on the wall, stretching out your back and side muscles as far as they can go. Slowly go back to your starting position, and repeat as many times as you feel comfortable.
The chest opener is another easy exercise to do in the privacy and comfort of your home. All it requires is a few minutes of your time, and a towel. Roll up a bath towel or pillow, and lying down while looking up at the ceiling, place it under the middle of your back. You will naturally be in an ‘arched’ position, causing your chest to open and feel fantastic! This is a great exercise to start your morning or end your day with—just turn off your busy mind and relax. Your back is bound to feel better within minutes.