Stretching Out For The Stressed Out

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The holidays are upon us and if you are anything like me chances are you've already been in a fender bender, haven't bought a single present (for someone else that is) and any attempts at managing everyone's packed schedules from school shows to company parties has started taking its toll. All of a sudden it feels like there is no time to do anything, certainly nothing so selfish as working out, leaving us in desperate need of some stress relief.

If this time of year has you on the go-go-go with barely a minute to spare try squeezing in this quick and easy streching routine. Stretching for a few minutes helps reduce stress, gives your mind a chance to unwind and assists in releasing all those tense shopping, driving, working, parenting, etc. muscles. If you're feeling really ambitious, try drinking some water after you are relaxed and stretched out (a rare treat around the holidays). Your skin and muscles need it to look and feel their best, and after all-- isn't that what the holidays are all about?

Below are a few simple stretches you can use to feel less hectic and more relaxed and peaceful during the holidays, or any time. Remember, it's not getting rid of the stresses in life that helps you cope, its how you deal with them. So here's to de-stressing instead distressing!

What you will need: Space to lie down somewhere comfortable, and about 5 minutes.


1. Hamstring stretch

The muscles in the backs of our legs get tight from standing and sitting, continuing into tightening our lower backs. If grabbing your ankle to do this stretch seems like a pipe dream, grab the tie off a robe and loop it over your foot and hold the ends. The goal here is to achieve a gentle stretch that is relaxing, not horrifying. Hold this stretch for three deep breaths on each side. If longer, enjoy:)



2. Pretzel stretch

This stretch continues to lengthen the backs of the legs and the glutes, and also lets you continue enjoy lying down. Breathing evenly and deeply cross one ankle over the other at the knee and lace the fingers behind the leg, pulling gently in. Try to relax into the stretch, change sides.


3. Thigh Stretch

Roll over gently onto your side. Bend the underneath leg up towards you to assist your balance as you reach back and grab the other leg's ankle behind you. Concentrate on releasing any tension in the body and hold this stretch for three deep breaths, roll to the other side and repeat.



4. Stretch out/ touch your mistle-toes

Lie down on your back and stretch your body out long, visualize your fingers and toes reaching in equal and opposite directions. After you've stretched as far as you can, roll forward carefully and reach for your toes. If your toes are farther away then you remembered, don't worry. Rest your hands on your legs comfortably and drop your head down. Remember to breath evenly for at least three breaths, to let this stretch work its magic!



5. Mermaid

This stretch is excellent for releasing tension and targets our frequently forgotten sides. Try to feel blissful as you sweep your feet in towards you and to the side. Bend over and stretch your side as you reach towards your feet. Exhale deeply and reach to the opposite side. Switch leg sides and repeat.