Six Stretches to De-stress Your Body and Refocus Your Mind

Stress can sneak up on you slowly over the course of a week, or it can occur suddenly during an intense situation. Either way it is taking its toll on your body and mind. Physical symptoms include tight muscles, elevated blood pressure, headaches, and indigestion. Mental symptoms include trouble focusing, racing thoughts, forgetfulness, short temper, and fatigue.

De-stressing your body not only makes you feel better, but it can enhance your interactions with others. Caring for a loved one can be a major cause of stress, and learning to diffuse this tension can allow you to continue giving them the love and care they deserve. Try these stretches the next time stress gets the best of you.

  • Neck circles – Sit up tall with your back straight and your shoulders relaxed down away from your ears. Begin to circle the head toward the left shoulder. Inhale around the back and exhale around the front. Use the breath to release tension from tight areas. Repeat toward the right shoulder.
  • Rag doll – From a standing position fold forward and reach toward the toes. Allow your head and neck to relax, and allow gravity to lengthen the spine. Grab on to each elbow and gently swing the body side to side to loosen up the lower back.
  • Reclined spinal twist – Lie flat on your back and pull the knees to the chest. Place both arms straight out at shoulder height. Lower the legs to the left all the way to the floor and turn the head to the right. Exhale as you allow your body to relax further into the twist. Repeat lowering the legs to the right and turning the head to the left.
  • Legs up the wall – Lie flat on your back and bring your tailbone as close to the wall as is comfortable. Swing both legs up extended straight and rest the heels on the wall. Allow your circulation to flow back to the heart as you rest your legs and decompress the spine.
  • Lower back circles – Lie flat on your back and pull the knees to the chest. Bring your hands to your knees and begin to circle the legs in one direction. Gently massage out the lower back muscles against the floor. Repeat in the other direction.
  • Anxiety soother – Lie on your belly with the forehead resting on the back of the hands. Relax the shoulders away from the ears. Turn the feet out and rest them on the inner edges to open the hips. Breathe deeply into your belly and use each exhale to relax further into the floor.