5 Stress-Busting Stretches for Anxiety and Post Workout Soreness

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I encounter anxiety more than I would like to. Oftentimes it results from fatigue, travel, or uncertainty about the future. If I fail to address my anxiety, it is a recipe for a full on panic attack.

After a serious bout of anxiety attacks two summers ago, I adopted a new set of lifestyle hacks like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga to prevent my attacks from returning. Now, morning stretches and deep breath techniques are instilled within my weekly routine so I feel a sense of balance and sanity.

A few days ago, I woke up to a bit of anxiety and achey muscles from a workout the night before. Not a good combination. I caught the sunrise in my hotel room and moved into my go to stretches for some relief.

Regularly, I practice these moves to aid in post workout muscle soreness in the morning as well. Play your favorite morning jams while you flex your muscles to elevate mood. Check the stretches out below:

For each of these exercises, I hold the pose for seven to ten deep breaths. I aim to let go of any unnecessary tension in my face (i.e jaw, forehead and neck) and upper arm area. You will be surprised by how unrelaxed your muscles naturally are. If you can, close your eyes or pick a spot in the distance to focus on. Clear your mind. It should be absolutely blank to really benefit from the full routine.

Toe Reach

Start with your feet close together, then slowly move your upper body towards the floor with your head down. Go as far as you can, then hug your ankles with your arms. You should especially feel this in your thighs and upper shoulders.

Standing Thigh Stretch

Begin with your feet hip-width apart. Use one hand to guide one leg behind yourself so the heel of your foot meets the buttocks. Keep your opposite arm by your side, behind your head, or on top of the hand holding your foot. Repeat on the other side. This should target mid thigh muscles. Repeat on the opposite side. Remember to breathe deeply throughout this exercise.

Cross-Body Arm Stretch

Assume a relaxed standing position. Cross one arm over your chest, while using your opposite hand to push the crossed arm towards your chest. Hold and breathe deep. Repeat on opposite side.

Sitting Ski Squat

This is my absolute favorite pose, though it requires a bit of balance. Start with your feet close together then bend at your knees on the way down until your buttocks hover above the ground. Slowly and carefully lift your heels off the floor and balance on the balls of your feet within the squat. Place your hands on your thighs. A great modification for this is to hold on to the back of a chair or a table with one or two hands to keep balance.

Chair Pose

This is an exercise often practiced in yoga classes. I feel like it helps me with balance, strength in my lower body, and breathing since you’re forced to really breathe from your stomach in this one. Begin with your knees hip-width apart. Bend your knees and hips at approximately a 90-degree angle, so you emulate sitting in a chair. Either drive your hands up into the air or bring them straight out in front of you. Breathe deeply. I am always forced to breathe air in from my stomach rather than short and shallow breaths from my chest.

How do you releive stress? Tell us below!

Mecca Russell, a rising senior at The New School in New York City, studies Journalism & Design. Both her coursework and internship experience reflect the intersections of reporting, photo, and documentary. She enjoys storytelling through mediums of film, writing, and photography and is inspired by journalism's power to tell untold stories. She's contributed to Teen Diaries & Pretty Girls Sweat as a weekly writer and reporter. When she is not editing or writing, Mecca is often found browsing through books at your local bookstore, sipping a matcha latte, or dripping in sweat after a HIIT and strength training workout in the early mornings. Mecca is also a singer-songwriter and can be found gigging around her city quite frequently. She looks forward to learning new ideas everyday and is always up for a challenge!