2022 is not an easy time or place to be. You don’t need me to remind you of the million stressful things already going on. My hope is that you’ll consider allowing yourself to take a few minutes to pause from the chaos, to allow yourself to slow down and concentrate on just one area that might be bothering you, then add in light movement with a bit of breathwork. Or, if you take this time to merely recognize how you’re feeling, that still counts! If you can carve out 5 minutes…shoot, even just 2 minutes…taking that time will improve your physical and mental well-being and get you on track to feeling better.
Now comes the hard part. We all know that stretching is good for us. Finding the time to actually do it…well, that’s a whole other story. The disappointing reality is that there’s not a quick “magic move” that will erase all of those aches, twinges, and parts of you that straight up hurt. Deep down you already knew that though. We make time to brush our teeth and floss. We lock our doors and turn off the lights at night before bed. We make sure our alarm is set for the morning. There are so many things in our daily routines that just come naturally, and most of those things help to make your day a little better, right? Taking a few minutes out of your day to stretch should be exactly the same.
Starting off small when trying to add a new element to your routine is important, and just as important is knowing that it’s okay if you can’t implement one stretch every single day. Give yourself a pass if you TRIED to stretch and lasted 9 seconds before needing to call it. (This is “present you” being nice to “future you.”) Realize that “one stretch every day” doesn’t even have to be a physical thing—making an effort to take a break from work, family, kids, pets, is incredibly important—think of this as a mental stretch. Taking a minute to stretch can be a small, intentional thing that you do in the name of self-care. In the long run, though, pausing to stretch should begin to feel like just another natural part of your day.
Here is a list of a few of my favorite stretches. Now, these aren’t the most glamorous moves. We are sticking to a few simple classics that don’t take too much contortion and can be done in a limited space. Remember, you have to walk before you can fly!
- STANDING FORWARD FOLD – Start by standing up away from your desk. Make sure there is enough space in your surrounding area that you won’t knock over your coffee. Plant your feet on the ground, pressing your toes and heels firm to the floor. Soften your knees and slowly start to lower yourself down by rounding your spine. Make sure you ease into the forward bend and try to relax your hands and head once lowered into it. Hold here for 30–45 seconds, then carefully lift back up. Roll your shoulders back and down. Repeat the forward fold 3–4 times.
- SIDE BEND – Silence the notifications from your cell, then stand in an area clear from your computer, desk, or dangling overhead lights. Open your feet up past hip distance, then shake out your hands and fingertips a few times. After loosening up your hands, extend your arms up above your head so that your shoulders are near your ears. Soften your elbows a little, then slowly bend to one side, feeling the stretch throughout your side, torso, and arms. Hold for 15–30 seconds, then repeat on the other side. Continue this series 3–4 times.
- HEAD/NECK ROLL OUT – Seated, exit out of excess tabs on your device, and then close your eyes. Take a big breath in, then let it go. Relax your eyebrows, your jaw, and continue to inhale and exhale at a pace that feels comfortable for you. Plant your feet
The hardest part of “one stretch a day” isn’t the stretching. It’s taking a moment to step back from your hectic day. Your daily stretch will take less than the time it took you to read this!