5 Stretches That Reduce Stress & Are Perfect For Winding Down After A Long Day
When you're stressed AF, your mind isn't the only thing working overtime; your entire body responds by getting tight and tense as all hell. From a cramped up neck, to knotted shoulders, to that ache in your lower back that just won't go away, stress can feel like Satan himself is tagging along uninvited wherever you go (seriously, GTFO dude). That's why implementing stretches that reduce stress into your everyday routine is super important for relieving your entire body, relaxing your mind, and sending that stress-inducing devil back where he belongs.
According to ShareCare, when you're stressed out, your blood flow becomes restricted, which creates tension in your lower back, and even most of the other muscles in your body. That's why, when anxiety hits, your mind isn't just cloudy; your whole body feels off, and you feel like you're due for a day devoted strictly to deep-tissue massages.
However, throwing in a few revitalizing stretches can help stimulate your nervous system and decrease the production of those dreaded stress hormones that are bringing you down. Stretching effectively to specifically target stress means isolating tension-storing muscles — which are typically the shoulders, lower back, and neck.
And if the thought of stretching initially stresses you out more, I feel you fam. But these bad boys will only take about three minutes of your time, and you get to enjoy a clearer mind and total body relief after the fact.
Here are five stretches that will help you relax after the longest of days. Seriously, these stretches will feel like you're giving both your body and your mind the biggest, warmest hug you didn't even know you needed.
1. Nourishing Neck Stretch
When you've had a long day and you're stressed AF, your tight muscles can make you more susceptible to injury.
Avoid pesky neck injuries by taking a moment to breathe deeply and perform this neck-to-ear stretch.
You'll immediately begin to feel more relaxed and feel the tension from the side of your shoulder, all the way up to your ear and the side of your head, slowly melting away.
Remember, less is more here. Take it slow, and listen to your body.
2. Expansive Upper Back Stretch
TBH, every time I do this stretch, my upper back cracks approximately 64 times. It's probably the highlight of my day. (I know, I need to get out more.)
Clasp your hands behind you back, and let your chest puff out as prominently as possible. Close your eyes, and stay in tune with how each movement feels, letting go of any anxiety, and letting the stretch works its magic on your back.
3. Lengthening Side Stretch
Though you'll feel the relief mostly on the side of your body you're stretching, this movement also lengthens your spine in amazing ways, countering any stored tension that a long day inevitably brings.
Start by standing straight with good posture. On your inhale, stretch up toward the ceiling, and as you exhale, slowly begin to bend to the side.
Remember to keep your hips level here, and only go as far as whatever feels good and juicy for your own body.
4. Liberating Hamstring Stretch
Tight hamstring muscles aren't just annoying. They can actually create a lot of lower back pain when left unaddressed, and adding stress to that equation will only make your entire lower body more unhappy and tense.
By incorporating this reclined hamstring stretch into your routine, you'll be able to lengthen your muscles and reduce tension in both your body and mind.
5. Alleviating Hip Stretch
Shakira said it best: Your hips do not lie, and those babies know when you've been anxious as hell.
Sitting and stressing all day long makes your hip flexors as tight as those cheap Forever 21 skinny jeans that shrunk in the wash. This shortens the muscles along the front of the hips, and weakens the glute muscles, directing tightness into your lower back, as well.
When you've had an anxiety-ridden day of responsibilities, you might not realize just how much your hips are store those negative vibes.
A figure four stretch is incredible for relieving that stiffness, melting away stress, and TBH, making you feel like a brand new woman.