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The Best Exercise to Reduce Stress at Work

the-best-exercise-to-reduce-stress-at-work
Stress can creep up from so many different areas of our lives, but for many of us, work is the most likely suspect. Whether we’re trying to meet deadlines, impress our boss, or just make it to the end of the workday, work-related stress can easily accumulate, and that can have a seriously detrimental effect on your health. Here we’re going to teach you an exercise that you can perform at your desk or just about anywhere else that will instantly reduce your stress levels and relieve tension in the body while you’re at work: the Simple Side Bend. <h4><p style="color: rgba(187, 52, 47, 1)">The Impact of Stress</p></h4> Before we get into the exercise, let’s talk about why it’s so important that we take measures to reduce our stress levels. Of course, no one wants to feel stressed out, and anything we can do to alleviate stress at the moment is going to instantly elevate our mood and make us feel better. However, stress, both chronic and acute, can also have a serious negative impact on our physical and mental health in the long term. Many of the damaging effects of stress take their worst toll on the body. Excess stress at work can lead to muscle tension that particularly affects your neck and shoulders. That muscle tension and the stress itself can cause uncomfortable symptoms including headaches, migraines, and posture imbalances that can worsen spine curvature, leading to pain and discomfort. Other <a target="_blank" href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987">**effects**</a> on the body include change in sex drive, fatigue, stomach upset, chest pain, and even changes in sleeping patterns. The <a target="_blank" href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987">**impact of stress**</a> on our mental health can be just as severe and equally as damaging. Stress can cause us to feel anxious, restless, and irritable. It can cause us to lose our focus and forfeit our motivation, both of which can make work even more challenging. And it can make us feel overwhelmed, causing us to dip down into sadness or respond with anger. Worse, feeling stress can lead us to engage in unhealthy behaviors including over- or undereating, abusing tobacco, drugs, and alcohol, withdrawing socially, and having outbursts of anger. With so many negative effects on the body and mind, finding ways to manage stress is crucial. <h4><p style="color: rgba(187, 52, 47, 1)">The Key to Reducing Stress</p></h4> Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do every day to help alleviate stress when it arises and even to prevent yourself from feeling stress in the first place. One of the simplest and most effective tools for stress reduction? Exercise. In fact, a <a target="_blank" href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749379709004139">**meta-analysis**</a> of studies in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that pooled data from nearly 40,000 subjects found evidence that workplaces that offered physical activity interventions had a significantly positive impact on job stress in up to two-thirds of the subjects. Exercise causes the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the body to release <a target="_blank" href="https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercise-depression#1">**endorphins**</a>. Endorphins are natural chemicals that interact with certain receptors in your brain to decrease your perception of pain. They act not only as an analgesic, but they can also have a natural sedative effect, causing your body and mind to relax. Some people, particularly runners, may even describe having feelings of elation and euphoria following exercise due to this release of endorphins. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), even as little as <a target="_blank" href="https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st">**five minutes**</a> of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate some potent anti-anxiety effects. The key is finding simple, sustainable exercises that you can perform whenever you’re feeling stressed, including at your work desk. Plus, exercise can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Stress can often cause us to have difficulty sleeping and can leave us feeling fatigued during the day. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that around <a target="_blank" href="https://www.sleep.org/articles/exercise-affects-sleep/">**ten minutes**</a> of aerobic exercise each day can dramatically improve your quality of sleep, helping you to reduce stress and feel more productive while you’re at work. <div class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9 w-md-75 my-5 mx-auto"> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xZN0gJ3dLjE" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen> </iframe> </div> <h4><p style="color: rgba(187, 52, 47, 1)">One Simple Exercise to Relieve Stress at Work</p></h4> Now that we understand the impacts of stress and the key role of exercise in helping to eliminate or reduce our stress, let’s learn how to perform the Simple Side Bend, an exercise you can easily do at your work desk or just about anywhere else when you’re feeling stressed. **<p style="color: rgba(187, 52, 47, 1)">Here’s how to perform the Simple Side Bend:</p>** 1. Stand up at your desk or wherever else you are and place your hands on your hips. <div class="text-left my-5"> <img class="img-fluid w-md-75 image-center" src="https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/wm-wmade-static-media/media/public/Assets/images/ReduceWorkStress_1_2_27.png" alt="ReduceWorkStress_1_2_27.png"> 2. Push your left hip out to the side with your chest elevated. <div class="text-left my-5"> <img class="img-fluid w-md-75 image-center" src="https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/wm-wmade-static-media/media/public/Assets/images/ReduceWorkStress_2_2_46.png" alt="ReduceWorkStress_2_2_46.png"> 3. Return to the starting position, then push your right hip out to the side in the same way. 4. Repeat this movement until you’ve reached your desired number of repetitions. Try starting out with ten repetitions then work your way up to more as you go along. <div class="text-left my-5"> <img class="img-fluid w-md-75 image-center" src="https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/wm-wmade-static-media/media/public/Assets/images/ReduceWorkStress_3_4_19.png" alt="ReduceWorkStress_3_4_19.png"> Perfecting your form is crucial to getting the greatest benefit from this exercise, so here are a few things to keep in mind while you’re performing the Simple Side Bend: * Try to think about pressing your ribcage up toward the ceiling when you push your hip out rather than pulling your head towards the ground. You want to keep your head and body nice, long, and tall by imagining you’ve got as much length in your head as humanly possible. <div class="text-left my-5"> <img class="img-fluid w-md-75 image-center" src="https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/wm-wmade-static-media/media/public/Assets/images/ReduceWorkStress_4_2_53.png" alt="ReduceWorkStress_4_2_53.png"> * Imagine that you’re standing between two walls while you’re performing the exercise. You don’t want to twist or rotate your body as you push your hips out, so pretending you’re standing between those two walls will help you keep your body nice and straight. <div class="text-left my-5"> <img class="img-fluid w-md-75 image-center" src="https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/wm-wmade-static-media/media/public/Assets/images/ReduceWorkStress_5_3_32.png" alt="ReduceWorkStress_5_3_32.png"> * Take a large breath into your belly as you push your hip out, then exhale gently as you return to the starting position. Your breathing shouldn’t be hard because this will tense the muscles. Rather, you want to take a nice, deep breath in as you push your hip out and release a relaxed breath out when you return to standing, almost as though you’re saying “ah.” Breathing is a great natural way to release stress and tension in the body so be sure to pay extra careful attention to your breath throughout the movement. <div class="text-left my-5"> <img class="img-fluid w-md-75 image-center" src="https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/wm-wmade-static-media/media/public/Assets/images/ReduceWorkStress_6_3_57.png" alt="ReduceWorkStress_6_3_57.png"> <h4><p style="color: rgba(187, 52, 47, 1)">Conclusion</p></h4> Once you’ve completed the exercise, you’re going to notice a few things: your body is going to feel significantly more relaxed than it did before; your posture is going to improve, helping you to stand or sit upright more comfortably; and your overall stress will be reduced. So, the next time you start to feel that stress and worry creeping up while you’re at work, stand up and take a few minutes to do some Simple Side Bends. We can guarantee you’re going to reduce your stress levels and feel happier and more pain-free.

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