Could you use a chill pill? In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, it seems easier than ever to lose control of your calm. Each day, the brain is bombarded with such stressors as long commutes, beeping devices, and negative comments on social media pages. Over time, these daily pressures can take a toll on your physical and mental health.

Stress is a silent killer. Many people are unaware of its profound effect on the body until it manifests as high blood pressure, anxiety, or depression. It’s for this reason that mindfulness and meditative exercises should be part of your weekly routine to help manage the symptoms of stress.

If your brain is brimming with stressors, lighten your load with the following fit tips and feel-good exercises. For best results, silence your devices and perform movements in a quiet setting. Start by focusing on your breath before moving on to stress-relieving stretches.

Take a breather. Calm your system by slowing the pace of your breath. When we are caught up in the chaos of a busy day, it’s common to begin shallow breathing from the chest rather than deep breathing from the belly. Short, shallow breaths result in hyperventilation and a sense of suffocation. By practicing breathing exercises, the brain will begin to retrain and reprogram the quality and structure of each breath.

Close your eyes and concentrate on each inhale, as you pull fresh air in through the nostrils while counting to three. Then slowly exhale out through the mouth as you count down from three. Repeat this simple exercise five times a day to keep your mind and body at ease.

Stretching sequence. When performing the following movements, remember to breathe slowly, smoothly, and deeply from the belly. This will help increase focus and concentration, as well as soothe sore muscles, release tension, and allow for a deeper stretch. Aim to practice these exercises twice a day.

Child’s pose

  • Begin in a tabletop position on a soft surface, like a carpeted floor or mat.
  • Push your hips back until your glutes are resting on your heels. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then release. If you have tight hip flexors, you may have trouble connecting your glutes to your heels, so widen your knees to simplify this stretch.
Child's pose
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Child's pose

Bridge pose

  • Start in a supine position, with your knees bent and feet firmly planted on the floor.
  • Push through your heels and hands, lifting your hips until they form a straight line from shoulders to knees. Keep your weight in your heels and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
Bridge
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Bridge

Cat-cow pose

  • Begin in a tabletop position, keeping your shoulders stacked over your hands, hips over knees, and back flat.
  • Drop your belly down while popping your tailbone and your gaze up toward the sky to form the cow position.
  • Now take a deep breath and arch your back, tuck your tailbone, and gaze inward at your thighs to form the cat position. Continue this back-and-forth pattern 10 times.
Ashley demonstrates a cat-cow stretch.
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Ashley demonstrates a cat-cow stretch.

Ashley Blake Greenblatt, ACE-CPT, is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach. To learn more about her virtual training program, visit ashleyblakefitness.com.