Can Stretching Help With Anxiety?

While the physical benefits of stretching are well documented, we often bypass the wide array of mental and emotional benefits. We often don’t realise or acknowledge the connection between mind and body, but mental health is health.

Having a regular stretching or exercise routine can be a key part in your mental health regime and here we list some of the key reasons why:

Managing Pain

If you’ve ever experienced chronic back pain, neck stiffness or aching shoulders, you’ll know how debilitating it can be for your daily life. It can negatively impact your work due to lack of focus, and it can contribute to your stress levels, resulting in more tension and thus, more pain.

This is particularly pertinent as we lead such sedentary lives, often stuck behind desks throughout the day and resting on the sofa in the evening. Staying in seated positions for such a long period of time can wreak havoc on your back, hips and shoulders, and this can lead to mental health issues in itself.

Stretching regularly can help you keep physically healthy and offset the tightness that can lead to nagging aches and pains, freeing you of extra stress that you don’t need.

Release Feel Good Hormones

Endorphins are a chemical released by the brain that trigger positive feelings, reduce perception of pain and generally have you looking at life with a more positive outlook. The good news is that you can do things to trigger the release of endorphins, plus get healthier at the same time!

Exercising and stretching triggers the release of endorphins in the body, and it’s why you may have heard of a “runner’s high” or perhaps a story of somebody feeling a swell of emotion after a stretch session. They are benefiting from the endorphins and the wonderful thing with stretching, is that you can do it in most places, or have somebody do it for you!

Reduces Stress

When we are stressed we often hold a lot of our emotions in areas of our bodies. Each person is different but many hold stress and tension in areas such as the lower back or the neck muscles.

Releasing some of this tension through stretching is an easy way to feel more relaxed and you can do it in the comfort of your own home.

Breathing Exercises

When you’re anxious, you may have noticed that you breathe more rapidly and your heart rate increases. Regulating your breathing can help manage your anxiety and bring the feelings down a peg or two. The rapid breathing is your body perceiving a threat and preparing you for fight or flight, so you need to let your brain know that there is no threat in order to regulate your symptoms.

By slowing down your breathing, you are telling your brain that there is no threat and you are in a safe space to relax. Stretching can help you do this as you time your breathing with each stretch, as you move from one position to the next.

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