Editor's Note: This post was originally published in February of 2013 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy.
Feeling tired, achy, stiff, or blue? These are most likely signs your body is telling you “I’m stressed out!” When you’re stressed, your body feels both the physical and emotional effects and chronic stress can lead to several devastating health problems.
What causes stress?
Some of the leading causes of stress include work, relationships, life impacting situations, finances, and health issues. When you’re body is under either physical stress or emotional stress, your body releases higher levels of cortisol. Blame it on our ancestor’s “Flight or fight” responses that we’ve inherited.
The good news, you can fight back against the effects of stress by drinking plenty of fluids, eating a healthy diet, and having a positive mindset. Most importantly, by performing these exercises to reduce stress, you will be able to calm down, stretch your muscles, and relax:
Child Yoga Pose
- Kneel on the ground and sit back on your heels.
- Slowly bend forward at the waist until your forehead touches the ground.
- Arms should be relaxed at your side and your shoulders should be loose.
- Inhale and exhale through this pose 3 times.
- Come up slowly to start position and repeat sequence 5 times.
- Stand with your back against a flat wall.
- Extend your feet out about 1 foot in front of you.
- Slowly squat down, bending your knees as you slide your back down against the wall.
- Stop once your knees have reach a 90 degree angle, keeping your glutes and thigh muscles tight.
- Hold this pose for 1 minute and come back to start. Repeat 5 times.
Upward Dog Pose
- Lie on your stomach with elbows bent and palms pressed into the floor by chest, legs stretched out behind you.
- Come up onto your hands, arms straight and elbows slightly bent.
- Keeping your lower abdomen near the floor and legs stretched out behind.
- Shoulders should be pressed together and chest should feel stretched and open.
- Hold for 60 seconds and return to start. Repeat 5 times.
Wall Push Up
- Stand facing a flat wall about three feet away.
- Lean into the wall, palms flat against the wall about three feet apart.
- While keeping your elbows slightly bent, lower your chest towards the wall, legs and back straight.
- Push up from the wall like a traditional push up.
- Do 10 wall push ups, rest for 30 seconds and repeat.
Standing Triceps Extension
- Stand with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent.
- Hold either a medicine ball, or two dumbbells (weights should be heavy enough to slightly fatigue muscles within 10 reps).
- Raise arms up above you, keeping arms almost touching your ears.
- Bend at the elbows, lowering weight behind you towards the floor.
- Slowly lift back to start position, keeping your form as tight as possible.
- Repeat 10-15 times.
- Stand with feet shoulder width apart, hands on hips, knees slightly bent.
- Lunge to the right side with right knee bent, keeping left leg straight.
- Hold for 5 seconds and push off the floor, back to start position.
- Repeat on opposite side, lunging to the left side with right leg straight.
- Alternate legs for 10 reps each.