Modern life can be stressful. Family, work, social obligations make it difficult to find time for yourself. However, relaxing is needed, important and can be easy too.
When it comes to reducing stress and relaxing, the easier you can make it the more likely you’ll take the time to do it. Stretching is very relaxing and easy. Try these simple stretches and breathing exercises. They only take a few minutes, but they have a big impact on your health. Regular stretching routines can help lower cortisol levels, blood pressure and boost your mood and energy.
Here are five ways to relax in five minutes or less.
- Take a deep breath. In less than a minute, you can change your mood by closing your eyes and just focusing on your breathing. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Relax your shoulders down away from your ears and sit up tall to make room in your chest for a deep breath down to your belly. Inhale slowly for 6-10 counts and then exhale for that same number of seconds.
- Release tight shoulders. One way to help open your lungs and recharge your energy, is to stretch the chest muscles. The Flexistretcher has an elastic center that allows the strap to strengthen with resistance while stretching, helping to keep the shoulder and upper spine alignment. Take the Flexistretcher by the nylon straps and slowly raise the hands overhead and pull elbows downward. Keep the movement behind the head and hold with tension to widen the chest and squeeze the shoulder blades together. Hold for 10-30 seconds and then slowly raise the strap upward. Repeat the movement 2-3 times as you breathe through each stretch.
- Breathe into your chest. Another great way to open the chest is to use an exercise ball. Using a prop like the exercise ball helps support the spine while stretching the chest. Start seated with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place the ball behind the hips and slowly lean onto the ball and roll back on the ball and allow your head to lean towards the floor. Open the arms to the side and breathe into the ball. Relax the shoulders by pressing them down towards the rib cage.
- Release tight hips. Sit on the FLX exercise ball and place one hand on the wall for support. Raise your opposite leg, turn the knee out to the side and sit in a figure 4 position. Make sure to keep your top foot flexed and knee out to the side. Breath here for 3-5 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Release tight hamstrings. A favorite stretch for many people is stretching the hamstrings and back of the thighs. Using a stretching tool like the Flexistretcher can help control the stretching leg and allow for a longer relaxed stretch. Start lying on the floor with one foot in the center of the elastic pad on the Flexistretcher. Raise this foot up towards the ceiling and using the nylon straps open the arms to the side. Allow the stretching leg to point and flex the ankle into the elastic center. Hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.