Working at a desk all day can be hard on the body and mind, but allowing yourself a chance to stretch gives your body the TLC it deserves. Depending on your office environment, you might be hesitant to take the time for a stretch break, but here are a few good reasons to start adding it to your day-to-day routine:
It improves flexibility. Sitting in an upright position for hours on end wreaks havoc on the natural curvature of the spine. If your lower back always feels tight and uncomfortable, or your shoulders feel like they're inching up toward your ears, moving through a few stretches every day will help relieve that constant tension, both inside and outside of the workplace.
It leaves you refreshed. It may seem counterintuitive, but taking time for a break can improve your work flow and productivity. When you step away from your desk and release the stresses of your responsibilities, you come back to your work with a clear mind, ready to tackle the rest of your day.
Concerned about how to make stretch time a part of your schedule? Keep reading for three tips to formulate a plan.
Make it routine. Make a point to stretch at the same time—or hopefully times!—every day. Set an alarm to stretch every hour, take a few moments once you're back from lunch, or stretch in the hallway after a bathroom break. Your new habit will be more likely to stick if it feels ingrained in your schedule.
Think outside the box. If you can't drop to the floor for a yoga break, stand up and try yogi Shiva Rea's desk downward dog variation that works tight hips and shoulders. If you're tied to your desk, there are plenty of subtle ways to stretch while you're seated and working. Check out this video of quick desk stretches for three easy moves to relieve tension in your neck, back, and wrists.
Don't feel awkward. If you feel strange in the beginning, that's okay. Once you start recognizing all the benefits of taking this time, it won't feel as silly. After you start, others might even catch on and try it out for themselves. A few weeks down the line, who knows? You might even be leading stretching breaks for your whole office!