5 Stress-Relieving Stretches

by Melynda Saldenais | Print This Page

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It’s easy to get bent out of shape during the holiday season. Who doesn’t get overwhelmed with the added stress of shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning, and decorating layered atop every day routines like working an eight-hour day, ferrying children to school and making sure Fido gets his walk?

Unfortunately, unreleased stress can result in an aching back, headaches, tense muscles and a not-so-jolly disposition. Ask any massage therapist and she’ll confirm that the lower back, neck and shoulders carry the brunt of our stress, making fluid movement uncomfortable and, in some cases, impossible.

But wait! We have the answer to less stress that will please all of the multi-taskers out there: stress-releasing stretches you can do at your desk. So, while you’re crunching numbers, you can be stretching and strengthening your body too!

The Moves

1) Breathe
Focusing on your breath is relaxing and restorative. Take a minute or two, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Repeat 10 times, for a set. Do three sets. It’s almost like taking a nap!

2) Shoulder and Neck Stretch
Sit up straight in your chair with both feet on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Place both hands behind your head at the base of your neck and interlock your fingers. Tilt your head toward the floor and press your shoulder blades together. Hold for 10 seconds, release and repeat 3 times.

3) Arm Stretches
Sit up straight in your chair with both feet on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Interlock your fingers and stretch your arms straight out in front of you. Rotate your wrists so your palms face away from your body. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds, then raise your arms over your head, hold for 10 seconds. Repeat three times.

4) Leg Stretches
Sit up straight in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Raise one leg and straighten it in front of you. Hold for 10 seconds and rotate your ankle to the left and then to the right. Repeat with the other leg. Do 5 repetitions with each leg.

5) Lower Back Stretches
Sit up straight in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Lean forward and try to grab your ankles with both hands. Feel the stretch in your lower back! Hold for 10 seconds and repeat three times.

The Perks

Adding these exercises to your daily routine will:
• Strengthen muscles and joints
• Release stress and tension
• Increase endurance
• Boost mood and energy levels
• Ease pain and stiffness
• Improve work performance
• Promote good circulation
• Relieve and reduce headaches and neck pain
• Reinvigorate your holiday spirit

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