smiling man in front of laptop stretching out his arms

Having Trouble Concentrating? Try Stretching!

We often correlate stretching with exercise. While it’s undoubtedly beneficial to stretch before and after a workout, the benefits of stretching extend well beyond the physical.

Stretching can help you feel better and make it easier to focus throughout the day. Whether you regularly face a mid-afternoon slump or are just feeling stuck in a rut at work, try adding a few simple stretches to your day to jumpstart your mind and get back on task.

The Impact of Posture on Your Focus

How we hold our bodies impacts how we feel, including our ability to concentrate. A recent study from San Francisco University tested students on their ability to perform simple math problems while holding correct posture versus sitting slumped over in poor posture. The students overwhelmingly performed better when they sat upright.

In the real world, we all too often find ourselves slumped over our desks without being prompted. This includes everyone from elementary school students to adults. The average American spends 10 hours a day sitting, often in a slouched position.

We can’t always change the amount of time we spend in a seat. What we can change, though, is how we hold our bodies while we’re seated and the ways we stretch our muscles to help our bodies obtain excellent posture.

Stretches to Improve Posture and Concentration

You don’t need to plan ahead to fit stretching into your day. It can be done anytime, anywhere, with no equipment necessary. Try incorporating these stretches into your workday to get a boost in energy as you reset your posture so you can get back to work.

Arm stretch

Stand inside a standard doorway. Place on hand on the frame at the height of your armpit to support your body weight. Start leaning forward until you feel tension between your biceps and pectoral muscles. Stand here for about 30 seconds, slowly increasing the tension. Then, swing your arm forward and backward a few times before repeating on the other side.

Neck stretch

Sit on your right hand in your office chair with your feet on the ground. Gently extend your neck to the left, trying to reach your left ear to your left shoulder (or however close you can get. Don’t force it if you feel tight). Hold for about 30 seconds. Then, repeat on the other side.

Back stretch

Reverse your curved spine with this back stretch. Sit on the edge of your chair. Plant your feet on the floor. Straighten your arms in front of you, then raise them over your head with your palms facing each other. Draw your arms behind your ears and bend your back slowly until your spine starts to curve backward. Look up at the ceiling as you breathe deep and hold for one minute.

Conclusion

The next time you’re having “one of those days” at work where you just can’t seem to focus on anything, try stretching. You might be surprised at how effective just a few minutes of stretching can be when it comes to increasing your productivity.

To learn more about stretching or to get assistance with your stretching, book an appointment with StretchSPOT. Our experts can help you determine the best stretches for your body and guide you through stretches that will help you feel better inside and out.

girl in downward dog pose

How Stretching Can Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Reduce Your Stress and Anxiety through Stretching

Now that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, things have no doubt gotten a lot harder than before. There’s no telling when or if life will go back to the way it was pre-pandemic. This is one of the rare eras in human history wherein the future is uncertain for everyone.

You probably spent the last months exploring all options to keep yourself and your family financially healthy. Hopefully, you’ve been giving the same level of attention to your health as well. If you haven’t, now is the best time to assess your physical and mental well-being — specifically, if stress and anxiety are plaguing your waking moments.

How Stress and Anxiety Harm Your Health

The American Brain Society calls chronic stress “the silent killer” because it leads to conditions that could develop into something more dangerous. For example, it is typical for a person who’s under stress to experience headaches and body pains. But if the stress persists, there could be another possible underlying cause: irregularity in the blood flow, which results in oxygen and nutrient deprivation in some areas of the body.

Here are some of the potentially serious conditions that medical researchers have linked to stress and anxiety:

  • Digestion problems
  • Weak immune system
  • Susceptibility to infections
  • Depression and mood disorders
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue

It’s important, therefore, to manage your stress and anxiety as quickly as possible. One way to do this (without depending on medication) is by stretching.

What Does Stretching Do for Your Body?

Harvard Medical School has published many papers and articles touting exercise as a remedy to stress and anxiety. People who exercise experience behavioral changes that are boosted by chemical production in the brain. It works this way:

  • Exercise, in general, lowers adrenaline and cortisol — stress hormones that trigger the body to go into a “flight or fight” mode.
  • Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are responsible for the relaxed and positive outlook people have after completing a rigorous exercise routine or achieving their running goals (also called “runner’s high”).
  • Exercise loosens the muscles, encourages deep breathing, and improves blood circulation. These directly combat the physical symptoms of stress, such as painful back muscles, a clenched jaw, taut facial muscles, dry mouth, and tense posture. According to Harvard researchers, putting the body in a relaxed state through exercise can send calming signals to the mind. This approach can break the stress cycle and improve mental fitness.

Stretching is the ideal type of exercise because everyone can do it regardless of their fitness level. It’s a good start for those who don’t exercise, and those who already exercise a lot can still find satisfaction in it.

When you stretch, you:

  • Make your body and thoughts slow down. You can enter a meditative state and proactively reduce your mental stress.
  • Move all muscle groups, from your face to your extremities.
  • Discover the areas in your body that are tense and need more stretching.
  • Improve your balance, posture, and spinal alignment.
  • Become more aware of your mind and body.

The Best Exercise During Quarantine

One of the best things about stretching as an exercise is you can do it anytime, anywhere. With many gyms and fitness centers being closed indefinitely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, stretching is one of the few exercises that are doable in your own home — in your work chair, even.

Dedicate as much time and effort in caring for your health as you do your business. After all, you become more alert, creative, and energized to work when you’re at your peak condition.

Check out this article for 8 Stretches for Your Best Night’s Sleep

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