7 Exercises To Do Before Work That'll Melt Your Stress Away First Thing In The Morning
Sometimes I think that if I followed all the suggestions I get for keeping my stress and anxiety at bay, I wouldn't be able to go to school or hold a job. But exercise is one such suggestion I really make an effort to fit into my days, because the impact it has on my mental health is pretty undeniably profound. Because I don't always have the time or energy to spare an hour for a workout, I've luckily figured out some exercises to do before work that allow me to release tension and let go of any stress that may be trying to ruin the beginning of my day. The difference, my friends, is palpable.
By the way, let me make it clear that I am not the type who wakes up light on their feet and ready to pound the pavement at 6 a.m. sharp. I've yet to become a bona fide morning person — which means peeling myself out of bed and squeezing in a short workout in the comfort of my own bedroom is often a task in and of itself.
But worry not, because according to the American Association of Anxiety and Depression, studies show you can get the same positive psychological benefits from just 10 minutes of walking as you can a 45-minute workout.
So give these quick, but powerful exercises a try before you leave your house to go to work if you feel like you could use a little de-stressing before your morning commute.
1. Breath Of Fire
This one will warm you up right away, as it is simply a strong, rapid, and repeated exhale initiated by your stomach muscles. Try this out for one to three minutes, but keep in mind it can totally be extended to 10 minutes if you've got the time and stamina!
According to kundalini yogis, breath of fire has tons of benefits, like releasing stress and balancing the connection between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which do things like strengthen your heart and help you relax, respectively.
Talk about a little more fire! After a minute or two in plank, your heart rate will be up and your muscles will be heated and challenged.
Try a forearm plank for a full minute. Then for added muscular release (considering all the tension we keep balled up in our muscles) when you come back down, bring your hands to your sides, ball your hands into a fist, and tighten all of your muscles, then relax them entirely with a loud exhale.
3. Repeated Squats
Spreading your legs hip-distance, and making sure your knees stay over and never beyond your toes, sit back and down like you're sitting in a chair. Keep your chest raised toward the sky and your gaze forward. Now find a little rhythm to the movement, and repeat for two to three minutes (taking breaks whenever needed, of course).
Before finishing up, try to hold yourself in a squat for a count of 10 breaths to really heat up those muscles.
Yes, burpees can feel like hell on Earth sometimes, so remember to go at your own pace. The trick here is to do them continuously, even if you have to modify. For example, I sometimes step instead of jump coming back from plank when I start to get really tired.
Jumping up with your arms up, come down to the ground, jump back into plank pose, then jump forward back between your hands, and repeat.
When you're screaming out "Why?" remember this: Studies show that exercise reduces stress, anxiety, and depression by enhancing the body's ability to respond to stress.
5. Jumping Jacks
I know, I know, I'm giving you more cardio.
But here's an even more fun variation if you hate jumping jacks: Just hop, dance, skip, and jump around for two to three minutes with your hands in the air, flailing and moving in any way that feels good for you.
6. Wide Arm Push-Ups
I personally always, always do push-ups on my knees, so remember there is absolutely no shame whatsoever in that.
But strength training is a great way to — you guessed it — build strength while also releasing tension throughout the body.
7. Mountain Climbers
While you're down there in push-up position, just add a minute of mountain climbers to bring this quick routine to an end.
Once you're all done, pull yourself into downward dog and spend time stretching in a way that feels awesome for your body.
Oh, and my recommendation for keeping this morning workout timely? Make a playlist that is exactly as long as you have to/want to do the exercises. Think somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes. Choose a song for each exercise that's about as long as you want to do it. Can you hold your plank for the entire minute and a half of Nina Simone's "Compensation?" I think you can.
This way, you can start your morning off with some music that you love, some movement that'll melt your stress, and you won't have to worry about running late for work, so you can still grab that macchiato before it's time to clock in.