While the gym may be your go-to source of stress relief, a long workout may not always be what you need when you're feeling overwhelmed. But even 10 minutes of low-impact exercise can shift your emotions for the better.
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"When we're feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, exercising is probably the last thing you want to do," says K. Aleisha Fetters, CSCS, co-author of Give Yourself MORE. "But movement is one of the best tools at our disposal when it comes to emotional regulation."
When you're feeling overwhelmed and aren't feeling up to your usual exercise routine, all you need is a 10-minute workout to help calm your emotions. Give these four simple, full-body exercises a try to re-center and relax.
Move 1: T-Spine Rotation
- Start kneeling on all fours with your hands on the ground in line with your shoulders, knees in line with your hips. Keep your back in a neutral position, neck long.
- Bring your right hand behind your head, elbow out.
- Keeping your hips square and left palm rooted, raise your right elbow up toward the ceiling, opening up your chest to the right.
- Pause here for a moment, then return to the starting position.
- When you finish all the reps here, switch sides.
Move 2: Reverse Lunge With Overhead Reach
- Start standing with feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides.
- Keeping your left foot planted, step your right foot back a few feet and lower the right knee toward the ground.
- At the same time, bend the left knee to a 90-degree angle.
- Holding the lunge, raise your right arm up toward the ceiling.
- Reach your hand to the left side, stretching the right side-body.
- Return to the starting position and repeat. Once you finish all the reps, switch sides.
Move 3: Push-Up to Downward-Facing Dog
- Start in a high plank with your hands directly under your shoulders. Keep your body in a straight line from head to hips to heels.
- Bend the elbows at a 45-degree angle from your ribs and lower your body toward the ground.
- When your chest hovers just above the ground, press into the floor and return to the high plank.
- Next, press into your palms and raise your hips up toward the ceiling, keeping your back flat, neck long. You'll be in an inverted V shape.
If you can't do a standard push-up, you can perform the exercise from your knees. As you modify, remember to keep your back flat and your neck long.
Move 4: Side Squat With Chest Stretch
- Stand with your feet double shoulder-width apart with toes turned out slightly.
- Bend the left knee and shift your weight to the left until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Hinge your hips back so your butt sticks out behind you.
- Keeping your arms straight, reach behind you, feeling a stretch in the front of your chest.
- Hold here for a few seconds.
- Drive through your right heel and return to standing, relaxing your arms at your sides.
- Repeat on the left side, alternating left and right.
As you perform this stretch, you can lace your fingers behind the body to deepen the sensation in your chest, Fetters says.