We’re all completely aware that the world is a tumultuous place at the moment. Tracking the headlines, on top of maintaining our own personal schedules, can prove to be a recipe for disaster. But as an unavoidable by product of, well, being a functioning member of society, it is clear that we need to adopt certain techniques that can help alleviate these common stressors.
In conjunction with hydration and general mindfulness techniques, movement is paramount to stress relief. But when tensions are high, and the to-do list is mounting in the peripherals of our day, working up a sweat can be the last thing on our minds.
So, how can you reap the benefits of movement when you can’t bring yourself to move at all?
The answer is in stretching and flow.
On top of providing benefit for our body’s structures, stretching can provide relief on an emotional level too.
“You can definitely hold emotional stress in your [muscle] tissues,” said Karena Wu, a board-certified clinical specialist in orthopaedic physical therapy who practices at ActiveCare Physical Therapy.
Wu said static stretches in particular — the kind where you “take a muscle to its end of available motion and hold it there for a prolonged period of time so you can increase the length of the soft tissue” — can alleviate emotional stresses that often manifest in physical pain.
This exercise can also have a calming effect on your mind. “You’re focusing on a stretching activity and on yourself — you’re living in the present, and you’re not thinking about all the other things you have to do,” Wu said.
Whether it’s a foam roll, or a slow yoga sequence, elongating muscles in a slow and controlled fashion has proven results in releasing tension, and thus easing stress in the body and mind. Although the sentiment ‘get up and flow’ can appear to be insultingly simple when life is getting a little too much, there’s no denying that the simple act of movement can set us into a new frame of mind.
Get up and try it- you’ll thank us later.