Late night comedian and talk – show host, Jimmy Fallon, was once quoted as saying, “Don’t keep reaching for the stars because you’ll just look like an idiot stretching that way for no reason.” Leave it to Jimmy to literalize a lovely age old metaphor into absurdity. Though some may jest, that shouldn’t be a reason to abandon your aspirations! If you want to reach for the stars, feel free to keep doing so, and if anyone asks you why you’re stretching that way, just tell them you’re relieving stress.
Jaime Longval, MS and certified strength and conditioning special in at Brown University says, “Stretching is an effective strategy to aid in the relief of stress. It lengthens muscles to relieve tension.” Another benefit to stretching is that it can be done almost anywhere. Here are a few great stretches you can do to relieve stress.
Just the act of focusing on your breath can be restorative and relaxing. Just close your eyes and turn your attention to your breathing. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Repeat the exercise ten times, making a set. After doing three sets, you should begin to feel more relaxed.
Neck and Shoulder Stretch
Sit in a chair with your back straight and your feet on the floor, about a shoulder width from one another. Put your hands behind your head and interlock your fingers at the base of your neck. Lean your head toward the floor and bring your shoulder blades together. Hold position for ten seconds, then release. Repeat three times.
Lower Back Stretches
Who couldn’t use a good lower back stretch! Sit in your chair with your feet on the floor. Lean forward to grab your ankles with both hands. Hold for ten seconds feeling the stretch and repeat three times.
Sit straight in a chair. Put both feet on the floor, a shoulder length apart from each other. Interlock your fingers, stretching your arms out in front of you. Turn your palms to face away from your chest. Hold for ten seconds, raise your arms above your head, and hold for another ten seconds. Do three sets.
Sit in your chair with your back straight and your feet pressed to the floor. Raise your left leg and straighten it out in front of you, Rotate your ankle to the right and them to the left, holding the position for ten seconds. Repeat with your right leg, doing 5 repetitions with each leg.
Besides releasing tension and stretch, benefits of these exercises include the strengthening of joints and muscles, the increase of endurance, a better mood and higher energy levels, the easing of stiffness and pain, an improvement of performance at work, better circulation and a reduction of neck pain and tension. So keep reaching for the stars, and if you happen to decrease stress in the process, all the better!
Let us know what you do to decrease stress during the day and if you know any stress relieving stretches, please share them with us, we need them!