These days, far too many of us are being overwhelmed by stress and finding it difficult to cope with little things that pile up to create larger health issues. There are lot of different ways to deal with stress, such as booking a session with a therapist, going for a run, getting a massage, or writing in a journal. But one of the easiest stress relievers for both your mind and body is to simply stretch.
Most people think of stretching that you only need to do before and after exercising. But there are some surprising benefits to stretching for stress relief too.
The Connection Between Stretching and Stress
The body and mind are complexly interconnected, which means that how you move your body will affect your mental state too. Stretching relieves muscle tension that forms when you feel stressed out. It also helps prevent new muscle tension from forming by keeping the body loose and limber.
When you stretch a little every day, this will help improve your blood circulation, joint stiffness, and posture. It is also very possible to combine the physical act of stretching with the mental act of meditation by repeating a comforting mantra as you stretch or visualizing a peaceful scene as you move your body.
If you’re like most people, you hold a lot of tension in your neck. This is made worse by sitting too long while staring at a screen and not getting up to move around enough. To ease that tension, drop your chin down to your chest while either sitting or standing. Gently press the back of your head down from the back for a deeper stretch. Then do the same thing on both sides by dropping your head down to each shoulder and holding the stretches for about 30 seconds.
Your back gets tense and tight when you’re stressed out, causing knots, stiffness, and pain. To ease that tension up in your lower back, lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Then bring one foot to your opposite knee and pull both legs toward your chest. This is a lying glute stretch and especially good to do after long periods of sitting. Twists are also excellent for loosening up tension in the back, and you can do them while both sitting or lying down.
Tight chest and shoulder muscles are common among people who feel stressed out, so don’t forget to stretch out the front of your body too. Chest opener stretches can be done while sitting or standing and simply involve clasping your hands behind your back and squeezing your shoulder blades together while pushing your chest out. This stretch is great for getting your blood flow moving and improving your posture too.
Stretching Tips to Ease Stress
- Remember to breathe while stretching and not hold your breath.
- Don’t bounce while stretching because that can cause injury.
- Stretch evenly on both sides for overall body balance.
- If you’re unsure how to properly do a stretch, search for a YouTube video.
Looking for more ways to reduce stress in your life? Check out these related articles on the Seagate blog.