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Mid-Workweek Stretches to Relieve Stress

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For many people, stress is a natural part of the work week. Whether you're up against a deadline or you just can't seem to empty your inbox before it fills up again, feeling stressed out can make completing your work harder than it needs to be.

Often the best thing you can do to relieve the stress that builds up is to take a few minutes throughout the week to do some stretches. Not only will this help reduce the physical tension you may feel in your back and neck, but stretching out your muscles can help your mind relax as well.

The Mayo Clinic recommended exercise and stretching as a stress reducer because it can stimulate endorphins, induce relaxation and distract from stressful work-related thoughts. Additionally, stretching and exercise may curb other stress symptoms such as trouble sleeping. Here are a few of the best stress-reducing stretches you should consider trying to break up your week. 

Relax your back 
The combination of poor posture and stress can leave many office workers feeling back pain and tension. Start this stretch by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, a few inches in front of a wall. Tighten your abdominal muscles, drop your shoulders back and push your neck against the wall. From here you'll relax your shoulders and let the rest of your back lean against the wall. Now bend your body at the hips and feel your back extend itself. Exhale and stretch your arms out parallel to the floor. Stand up, twist your spine both directions, move your arms around and feel your back relax. 

Stretch your legs and shoulders at the same time 
Fitness nutrition specialist Nora Tobin told The Huffington Post that one of the best exercises for relieving tension is an open shoulder straddle. Start with you feet more than hip-width apart and pointed outward. Bend your knees and shift your weight low, with your hands on your inner thighs and your shoulders pushing down. Lean to one side while dropping that shoulder and tightening your abdominal muscles. Switch sides and repeat until you feel looser. 

Lie down and focus on breathing 
Many of the best stretches require you to lie down on your back for maximum stress relief. Try bringing your legs straight up from the floor and stretching your hamstrings then bending your knees and moving them apart, stretching your groin. When on your back, focus on core strength, keeping your back flat and breathing. This will maximize relaxation. 

Whether it's five minutes at your lunch break or the first thing you do after your commute, take a few minutes in the middle of your week to stretch out and reduce your stress. Make part of your routine - use your smoothie blender for a healthy snack, stretch your muscles and let the week's stress drift away.