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Everyday stress can cause muscles to cramp, upset stomachs, headaches, and a host of other medical and psychological problems. One way to combat stress is to relax with stretching and exercise. Stretching has been used in Eastern cultures for centuries as a way to relax and meditate, but you don’t need to be a Buddhist to try some simple stretches at home.

Start by putting on loose-fitting, comfortable clothes. Take a very deep breath, hold it for a moment, and then slowly exhale until your lungs are completely empty. Repeat the process, and as you exhale, relax your neck and shoulders. One benefit of this simple exercise is that it can be done anywhere, even in a quiet corner of an otherwise busy office. Remind yourself to deep-breath several times a day.

Another simple breathing exercise is breathing in and out slowly while counting backwards from 10 to 1. Consciously relax your muscles as you count lower, with the goal of being “completely” relaxed when you hit 1. You may find that after particularly stressful days, you may want to start at a higher number!

A variation of this exercise involves stretching your muscles. While standing up, put your arms in the air, and again count backwards, this time exhaling as well as sinking your arms down, until you are again relaxed when you hit 1. At this point, tension might be felt in the hamstring muscles, but it’s OK; not only are you relaxing your head and your arms, you’re stretching your leg muscles to relieve the tension of a busy day.

Another such exercise starts when you are sitting or lying down. Close your eyes, and, starting with your feet, concentrate on one part of your body at a time and relax it. Go slowly and move up your body to your calves, knees, legs, and so on. This exercise may be easier if you tense each part of your body before relaxing.