We all get tired at work. Feeling the “afternoon slump” at all hours of the day is more normal than you would think. Staring at screens, sitting down, and slumping over our keyboards has become the norm for around 8 hours every day . . . and it’s a surefire way to feel mentally and physically exhausted. Don’t fret, though! There are lots of ways to build energy at work (and they don’t need to involve a three o’clock trip to the coffee maker or routine facebook checks). You can take a quick walk around your building, drink a big cup of water, or even do some quick yoga moves right at your desk!
Stretching out is a great way to energize your body and mind. It gives you a momentary mental vacation, reverses some of the sitting and stillness, and increases circulation to your entire body! Try some of these stretches for a little shot of energy:
Give your wrists a break! It is so common to build up wrist and forearm stiffness from typing all day. Sitting at your desk, reach one arm out in front of you (as if you were reaching out to accept a gift). Then continuing to open the hand, reach your fingertips down towards the desk/ground (or up towards the ceiling). Gently hold your outstretched fingers with your other hand and slowly guide your fingers back towards your elbow. Take three full inhales and exhales on each side.
Seated Cat/Cow Stretch:
Your spine has some natural curves, but sitting at a desk can stress your back out (as we all know). Sitting at your desk, place your hands on your knees or thighs. Taking a deep inhale, bring your gaze towards the ceiling as your arch through your back and your chest reaches up towards to the ceiling as well. As you start to exhale, pull your belly in towards your spine and bring your gaze to your belly button--rounding through the back making a C-curve. Take three rounds of these cat/cow stretches, using your breath as your guide.
Twisting is great way to relieve stress and stretch your spine. Sitting in your desk chair, place your right hand on your left knee and your left hand on your armrest or around the back of your chair. Pull your belly button in towards your spine as you lengthen out and reach the crown of your head towards the ceiling. Then, exhaling, you can use your arms to find a twist that feels good for you. Make sure you do this in both directions and hold each one for 3-5 breaths!
Side-Body Stretch (from seated or standing):
Either staying seated or coming up to stand, just reach your right arm up towards the ceiling (letting your left arm relax by your side or gently grasp your opposite wrist). As you’re ready, reach your right arm towards the left side of the room over your head (kind of in the direction of where the ceiling meets the wall). Pull your belly gently inward and maybe start to shine your chest up towards the ceiling. Hold here for 3 breaths and repeat on the other side.
Reverse Plank Pose:
Shoulders have a tendency to roll forward when sitting at a desk. This stretch will help open them back up! Come to stand facing away from your desk with your feet about 1-2 feet away from the desk. Place your hands on your desk with your palms facing down and your fingertips wrapping around the edge of the desk. Start to lift your chest up towards the ceiling. If this feels good and you would like to walk your feet out slightly farther away from your desk, you can! Keep your chin tucked if you feel any tightness in your neck; otherwise, you can gently release through your neck and bring your gaze behind you--keep your shoulders relaxed down your back away from your ears. Keep lifting your heart towards the ceiling. Hold for 3-5 breaths (take deep inhales and exhales).
Stand facing your desk and place your palms face down near the edge of your desk. Slowly walk your feet backwards until you are a making a 90 degree angle with your body. Gently press your torso toward the floor. Keep your belly hugged in toward your spine to stay active through your core. Let your knees bend a little and then straighten again with every inhale and exhale (hold for 3-5 breaths).
Step away from your desk. Bend through your knees and fold your upper body over your lower body by bending through your hips. Keep breathing! Let your upper body hang heavy over your legs. Relax your neck, head, eyes, and jaw. If you would like to interlace your fingers behind your low back to find a deeper shoulder stretch, you can try that out, too. Otherwise, just let your hands rest on the floor or fold your arms and bring opposite pinkie fingers to opposite elbow creases. Take 3-5 solid breaths, then slowly roll up your spine letting your neck and head come up last. Gently roll your shoulders down your back once you are upright. Smile and return to your work-space!
Repeat any of these stretches throughout the day to refresh your mind and body. Be very gentle with your body: if any of these stretches hurts or causes pain, stop! For optimal results, make sure to focus on your deep inhalations and exhalations and move your body with your breath. And enjoy!
If you have any questions, or if you are interested in bringing Yoga @ Work (a 30 minute yoga break to keep your employees happy and healthy) to your office, email Jessica directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: www.jessicacollette.co/yoga-work for more information.
This post was originally published in CurvyGirlHealth: http://curvygirlhealth.com/7-stretches-to-do-at-your-desk/