Stress Reduction

Have you ever noticed how you breathe when you feel relaxed? The next time you are relaxed, take a moment to notice how your body feels. Or think about how you breathe when you first wake up in the morning or just before you fall asleep. Breathing exercises can help you relax, because they make your body feel like it does when you are already relaxed.

Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax.

Take a minute out of your day and follow these simple steps:
1. Sit or stand in a relaxed position.
2. Slowly inhale through your nose, counting to five in your head.
3. Let the air out from your mouth, counting to eight in your head as it leaves your lungs. Repeat several times.

Next time you start to feel stressed, notice how your muscles feel. Do you feel them tighten up? Do you feel tension in your back and neck? Take two minutes the next time you are feel stressed and stretch out.

Seated Hip Stretch 

  • Taking your left leg and placing it on top of your right knee.
  • Sitting tall, gently press on your left knee until you feel a stretch and hold 10-15 seconds
  • Switch legs and repeat same stretch on the other side

*You do not want to feel pain and you do not want to put too much pressure on your knee*

Chest/Upper Body Stretch

  • Sitting tall on the edge of your chair, clasp your hands behind your back
  • Arch your back and gently pull your down and back
  • Feeling the stretch through your arms and chest, hold 10-15 seconds

 Neck Stretches

  • Lower the chin to the chest and rest for a few seconds, gently raise it, and then gently lean it backwards. Hold for a few seconds and gently raise it upright.
  • Turn the face to the left shoulder and gently lower the chin. Hold it for a few seconds, lift the chin, turn to look at the right shoulder and lower the chin again. Hold for a few seconds, slowly lift the chin and face forward.

Taking breaks through out your day for physical activity can help improve your mood and self-confidence. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Simply walking up and down the stairs, going for a 10 minute walk with a co-worker are all ways to get your blood flowing without taking up too much of your time. Already out and about doing your holiday errands? Be sure to use the stairs when possible, park two spots further if you are driving, or hop off the bus one stop earlier to get the most out of your errands!

Desk Squats

  • Stand arm length away from your desk
  • Make sure feet are shoulder width apart
  • Bend knees and stick backside out as you would to sit in your chair
  • Before sitting in your chair straighten legs and return to starting position
  • Repeat 10-15 times

Leg Circles

  • Sitting on the edge of your chair (make sure it will not roll)
  • Extend leg straight out and make small circle with your leg clockwise direction for 10 circles and switch to counterclockwise
  • Switch legs and repeat 10 circles in each direction

Download the handout with demonstration pictures here>>