We all experience stress every once in a while, and it often tends to strike at work. Even if you have the perfect job that you love, some stress is bound to be a part of our day at least occasionally. Between keeping up with all the demands of your job and balancing all the other tasks of your life when you’re not at work, stress from all angles can really add up and may become overwhelming at times.
In addition to dampening our moods, dealing with too much stress on a regular basis can have impact us physically as well. Excess stress increases tension in muscles and joints, and over time, this can lead to feelings of stiffness or pain throughout the body.
The fact that many of us spend the majority of our days sitting at a desk doesn’t help much either. The convenience of desk jobs makes it difficult to move around a whole lot, and sitting for most of the day is associated with its own negative health effects, including increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome. Together, this combination can add to stress levels even more.
But just because you work at a desk doesn’t mean you can’t do anything while you’re there. Taking frequent short breaks to stand up and walk around—or switching to a stand-up desk—are great ways to avoid sitting for too long. On top of that, you can perform many effective stretches right from your desk. Stretching regularly will help to strengthen muscles and joints, ease pain and stiffness, improve work performance and release stress and tension, which will all help to boost your mood and energy levels.
Here are 8 stretches to reduce stress at work that can be performed at your desk. Try to hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds and perform them once or twice a day:
- 1) Ear to shoulder neck stretch: tilt head, bring ear to your shoulder, then use opposite hand to apply slight pressure until you feel a stretch; then switch sides
- 2) Shoulder stretch: keep shoulders relaxed, cross one arm over your chest, cradle it with opposite hand and apply slight pressure; switch to other arm
- 3) Upper back stretch: cross arms in front of you and grab chair arms; while grasping, lean back, keeping spine in alignment until you feel stretch
- 4) Lower back stretch: while keeping spine in alignment, bend from your hips and reach towards the floor; aim to touch your toes or ankles
- 5) Finger stretches: hold your hand out, use index and middle fingers to stretch between each finger; switch and repeat with other hand
- 6) Seated neck stretch: clasp hands and interlock fingers, bring palms to back of head, keep spine tall and tuck chin into chest on the exhale, breathing deeply
- 7) Wrist stretch: extend arm with palm facing up, use opposite hand to gently pull fingers toward you; then shake it out and switch arms
- 8) Mountain pose: clasp hands and interlock fingers, extend arms forward and bring them above head with palms facing upwards, then drop your shoulders
Stretching at work will make you feel better right away and will also lead to long-term benefits and less stress. Try these out first and if you’d like some assistance or more stretches, Cleveland physical therapists in Shelby and Kings Mountain, NC can help. Call Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates at 704-471-0001 for more information or to schedule an appointment.