Stress not only causes emotional anguish, but it can also affect a person physically. We’re talking headaches, digestive issues, or, for many, unbearable pain in the neck and shoulders. When muscle tension builds up, it seems to create a barrier between the brain and the body, making it impossible to concentrate. Take a break for work and get some much-needed relief in minutes with these five quick stretches.
- Shoulder shrug: Inhale and lift your shoulders toward your ears, taking three slow counts to raise them. Exhale and just let your shoulders fall, giving into gravity. Repeat five times.
- Head tilt: Gently lower your right ear toward your right shoulder, then slowly switch sides. Don’t hang in any one position for too long, as this isn’t really a stretch — supertense neck muscles don’t like to be stretched. Just try to get your stiff, tense neck moving around. Repeat five times on each side.
- Chest opener: Bring your hands to your hips, take a breath in, and, as you exhale, tuck your chin slightly and squeeze your shoulder blades together behind you.
- Head nod: Tuck your chin toward your chest, taking three slow counts to do so. Really isolate the movement so just the neck is moving; don’t round the upper back. This move provides a stretch for the muscles in the back of the neck. Then lift your head and lower it behind you, gazing at the ceiling to stretch the throat. Repeat three to five times.
- Self-massage: Take your left hand to your right shoulder, tilting your head slightly to the left. Slowly run your fingers along the muscle, giving your shoulder some gentle squeezes. Repeat on the other side.