We’ve all been there. Whether it’s a gloomy day or you’re just waking up on the wrong side of the bed, some days we have worse moods than others. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can start using these simple stretches to improve your day.
What is Stretching for Mood
Stretching is a well-known method of mood management. These techniques and stretches — often found in yoga — can help to improve mood and relaxation. When you regularly practice these stretches with the accompanying breathing exercises you can greatly reduce stress for an improved disposition.
How It Works
Stretching to improve your mood has been a long-lived practice since it combines controlled breathing, deep stretching, mindfulness, and flexibility. In short, stretching feels good both physically and mentally. The goal is to create a sense of harmony between mind and body, resulting in overlap within stretches and yoga practices.
One of the greatest benefits of regular stretching is the feeling of tranquility it fosters when practiced regularly. The reason this occurs is due to the breathing techniques used– known as Ujjayi breath in yoga — which helps circumnavigate the sympathetic nervous system and activates the parasympathetic nervous system. In other words, it takes your body from “up and active” to “rest and digest.”
Additionally, like most forms of exercise, these stretches can boost two hormones connected to happiness and good mood; oxytocin and endorphins. Oxytocin is the “bonding” hormone and makes us feel close to others. Endorphins are another feel-good hormone and play a role in managing physical pain and negative emotions. Furthermore, studies found that different types of stretching can increase your body’s melatonin production — the hormone that helps regulate your sleep cycle. So, with all three of these hormones in play, it’s no surprise that stretching and yoga create feelings of inner peace and stillness.
How to Improve Your Mood
Stretch. Pretty simple, right?
We suggest starting your day with a routine of stretching — preferably before exercise. This means that you will reap the benefits of your good mood all day. If you don’t have time in the morning, try after lunch — though this can be uncomfortable if you went heavy on your midday meal.
Stretches for Mood
Full Body Stretch
Extend your arms overhead and reach up and feel the stretch through your legs and toes while keeping feet flat on the floor.
Upper Body Twist
Lay on your back and bring one knee to your chest and gently move from one side to the opposite side towards the floor. For a deeper stretch, try looking over your shoulder facing away from your knee.
Stand with your feet apart and place one hand on your corresponding hip. Lift your opposite hand over your head while keeping your elbow slightly bent outward. Lean stretch your extended arm upward and lean to the opposite side. You should feel the stretch through the side of your outstretched arm.
While standing, execute this stretch with a tennis ball beneath the ball of your right foot and let your heel touch the floor.
Stand with feet hip-width apart and place your palms on your lower back. Slowly push your hips forward and lean back. Lean your head back slightly to enhance the stretch.
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