The following article was originally published on prevention.com
If daily stress has you literally in knots, taking a short break to do a few simple stretches can go a long way toward unwrapping some of that anxiety and tension. With each of these movements, stretch only as far as comfortably possible and focus on your breathing. For your healthiest stress-relief plan, combine these moves with regular exercise, a balanced diet, and frequent contact with friends and loved ones.
What it does: Relaxes neck, shoulders, and lower back
How to do it: Stand with your back against a wall, feet hip-width apart and about 12 inches from the wall. Inhale, pulling your abdominal muscles in toward your spine, and press your entire back to the wall. As you exhale, roll down until only your tailbone and buttocks are touching the wall. Relax your neck and shoulders, and let your head and arms hang. Take deep, slow breaths and circle your arms inward five times, then outward five times. Slowly roll up.
Cat With a Twist
What it does: Relaxes shoulders, chest, abdominal muscles, and back
How to do it: Kneel with your hands directly beneath your shoulders and knees beneath your hips. Exhale, pulling your abdominal muscles in toward your spine, round your back, and drop your head and tailbone toward the floor, stretching like a cat. Inhale and reverse the move, arching your back and lifting your tailbone and head toward the ceiling. Do the sequence five times. Next, with your back flat, twist and slide your left arm, palm up, between your right arm and right leg. Reach far enough with your left hand so that your left shoulder, arm, and side of your head rest on the floor. Hold for five to eight deep breaths, then repeat with right arm.
Up the Wall
What it does: Relaxes hips and back of thighs
How to do it: Lie on your back with buttocks as close to a wall as possible. Extend your legs up on the wall, keeping your feet relaxed and about hip-width apart. Using your hands, gently press your thighs toward the wall. Hold for five to eight breaths. Then slowly bend your knees out to the sides and bring the soles of your feet together, sliding them down the wall as far as is comfortable. (The sides of your feet should rest against the wall.) Gently press your knees and thighs toward the wall. Hold for five to eight breaths. Release.
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