10 Stretching and Breathing Exercises to Help You Relieve Stress
If you ask people around you, many will tell you that they feel stressed on a daily basis. And about 8.3 million Americans suffer from very serious psychological distress. And unfortunately, the access these people have to medical care is getting worse instead of better. What we can do is propose a few simple exercises that will help you with getting tension out of your body.
Now I’ve Seen Everything would like to introduce you to 10 exercises you can start doing everyday if you struggling with excessive stress.
1. Child’s pose
This is a gentle position that can help to relieve your stress levels while giving your neck, back, and shoulders a much-needed stretch — and it’s ideal if you’re prone to getting a stiff neck after working in front of the computer.
- Kneel on the floor with your big toes touching each other and your knees as wide as your hips.
- Lower your body down toward the ground between your thighs and place your head on the floor with your skull lifted away from your neck.
- Now place your arms by your body with your palms facing up.
- Hold it for up to 5 minutes.
2. Squat and reach
- Get into a deep squat. Cross your hands and reach for your feet. The left hand should touch your right foot and the right hand should touch your left foot
- Start raising your right hand up and then down. Your head should follow your arm.
- Repeat for 45 seconds and then change arms and repeat on the other side.
3. Muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation techniques will not only help you deal with stress, but they will also help with chronic pain, insomnia, and anxiety. This exercise is focused on tightening or tensing specific muscle groups at a time (lower legs, thighs, stomach, etc.). The best way is to start from your lower extremities and continue upward:
- Inhale and tighten a muscle group (start with your lower legs) for 5-10 seconds. Then exhale and release all the tension.
- Now pause for 10-20 seconds to give yourself time to relax and continue with the next group (thighs, hips and buttocks, stomach, back, chest, face, around the mouth and the back of the neck, eyes and the bridge of the nose, forehead, shoulders, arms, and hands).
- When you release the tension, it is good to focus on the changes you feel at that moment. Visualization has a greater effect on the stress relief process.
- Don’t rush, slowly progress all the way up the body and continue to contract and relax the muscles, like you did with the first muscle group.
4. Seated spinal twist
The seated spinal twist is great for increasing the flexibility in your shoulders, chest, and spine.
- Sit on the floor and keep your legs straight.
- Bend your right knee and place it over your left leg.
- Hold for 30 seconds and move back the starting position.
- Repeat on the other side.
5. Wall sit
The beauty of this exercise is that it can give you nicely toned abs and calves at the same time, which is perfect if you’re looking for a way to strengthen these muscles from home.
- Gently slide your back down the wall until your thighs run parallel to the floor.
- It’s important that your knees are directly above your ankles and that your back remains straight against the wall.
- Hold for 60 seconds and repeat as many times as you feel able to.
6. Upper back cat stretch
- Kneel on the floor with your hips back toward your heels. Your forearms should be on a foam roll (you can also use a pillow).
- Round your middle back up and breathe in.
- Start breathing out, and let your chest arch down toward the floor in an arc shape.
- You should feel the tension in your mid-back. If you feel this in your lower back, move your buttocks closer to your heels.
- Repeat 8-12 times, 2-3 times per day.
7. Palm relaxation
In most cases, this technique will give you instant relief, while other times it will take a few minutes. This will relax your mind and eyes from any light stimulation. It is simple to do, but make sure you follow the steps correctly:
- First of all warm up your hands by rubbing them against each other or run warm/hot water over them.
- Choose the position that is most relaxing for you.
- Position your hands on top of your eyes so that your fingertips overlap over your nose.
- Keep your eyes open, while you position your hands to make sure everything is covered well and no light comes in. If you see light, correct your position.
- Now, once everything is checked, close your eyes and start breathing.
- Exhale, inhale... focus on the breathing, the warmth of your hands, and not on your eyes.
8. Side lunge stretch
Let’s move to the legs, starting with this side leg stretch. It works on the legs and hips.
- Start from standing straight with your feet double shoulder-width apart.
- Slowly transfer your body weight to your right side.
- Lunge to your right side.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat 3 times on each side
Note: Avoid leaning forward, or bending your knee over your toes.
9. Foam roll angels
- Lie on your back on a foam roll or a cushion. Your hands should be at your sides, with your palms facing upward.
- Gently tuck your chin to lengthen the back of your neck.
- Bring your ribs down to flatten your lower back. Don’t tense your abdomen.
- Start breathing slowly in and out for anywhere from 3-20 minutes, feeling your shoulders drop toward the floor.
- As your chest and shoulders relax, you can slowly move your arms higher. Your forearms should stay on the floor.
10. Supine twist
This exercise works for your digestive system because it massages the digestive organs and is good for helping with constipation. This means that regularly using this exercise can reduce levels of constipation over time.
- Lie on your back with your right knee up by your chest and your left leg straight along the floor.
- Bring your bent right leg over the left leg and try to keep it as close to the floor as possible with your foot flexed.
- Keep your shoulders flat to the floor and look to the right.
- Hold this pose for a few minutes before switching sides.
Have you tried any of these stretches and breathing exercises and if so, have they helped you to relax?