If you're feeling stressed, you may be happy to know that even just stretching can help you relax.
When you get stressed, your body responds by producing more "stress hormones" than usual. The increase of these hormones like epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol result in things like elevated blood pressure, heart rate, muscle blood flow, energy consumption.
Now when you stretch, your body responds by outputting more hormones too, but these hormones are "feel good" hormones like endorphins and serotonin. For the most part, when they're around, your body starts to produce less cortisol.
With that said, stretching literally equals less stress, and no matter your lifestyle, there are ways to make time for stretching to calm you mentally and physically.
For those working office jobs where not only the work causes stress but the amount of time spent sitting builds internal tension over time, you may want to try some of these stretches.
1. Seated Forward Fold
Sit in a chair with your torso bending forward over your legs. Let your hands dangle naturally and touch even the floor if possible. This stretch focuses on your hamstrings, low back, neck, and glutes.
2. Chair Cat Cow
To rejuvenate your spine, take a seat and inhale as your arch your back and pull your shoulders down. Then exhale as you crunch your body in, tucking your chin, torso and hips.
3. Chair Pigeon
This stretch offers an endorphin boost as it stretches some of our tightest muscles: hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors. To do this pose, rest the lower half of your right leg comfortably across your left thigh. Hold for at least 10 seconds and then switch sides.
4. Seated Cactus Arms
Raise your arms with palms facing outward and then bend your elbows bringing them to shoulder level. With your arms raised like this, bring them towards each other, touching your palms together, and then bring them back.
The following stretches in addition are also really good for reducing anxiety and relieving pressure.
5. Reclining Butterfly
Lie on your back with your feet planted on the floor and knees bent up. Bring the soles of your feet together and slowly drop your knees to the side as far your hips and gravity will allow. This pose relaxes your organs.
6. Spinal Twist
Lie on your back and lift your right knee towards your chest. Slowly push the right knee over to left across the body. This release tension in the back and spine.
7. Half Downward-Facing Dog
To do this stretch, plant your hand on the wall at about navel length height, step pack until your arms are extended and then hinge forward so that your torso is parallel to the floor.
8. Legs Up Wall
This last stretch is one of the most beneficial for providing anxiety relief and releasing tension and even built up fluids in the body and all you have to do is lie on the ground with your legs fully up against the wall.