It’s been a long day at work – and it’s only made worse by sitting slouched at a desk for hours at a time. Luckily, there's a few things you can do to relax, relieve tension in your back – and ease up your workday while you're at it. Here, we take you through five easy steps for some midday mindfulness that’ll perk up your posture, cause your stress to melt away, and make you feel a whole lot better about the countdown to five o’clock. Best of all, each of these stretches can be done seated, in the comfort of your work surroundings.
What’s it good for? It’s amazing how much this helps. No, really.
What do I do? Sit upright, close your eyes if you like, and rest your hands in your lap. Inhale deeply and slowly, and feel your tummy and chest fill up with air. Exhale a long, controlled breath, and let everything relax. Repeat four or more times like this. You start to notice how you're calming down already.
What’s it good for? Smoothing out that annoying, bunched-up feeling in your shoulders and back.
What do I do? Again, make sure you’re sitting upright, but this time slightly forward in your seat. Prepare by placing your hands on your knees. As you breathe in, push your chest forward and bend your back, tilting your head back and gazing up towards the ceiling as you do so. As you exhale, counteract the backbend by leaning forward, tilting your chin towards your chest and arching your back – almost like you’re hunching over again. Repeat a couple more times, or until your back feels nicely loosened up and limber.
What’s it good for? Straightening out your neck and back (and peeking at the colleague sitting behind you).
What do I do? Start seated like the backbends, except place your left hand on your right knee and wrap the other around the back of your chair. As you inhale, press your left hand against your knee and twist to your right side, glancing towards whatever’s behind you – if someone accuses you of being nosy, you’re doing yoga – ok? Return to your normal seated position as you exhale. Repeat the twist on the other side to balance out.
What’s it good for? Getting a satisfying, all-over body stretch. Ah, yeah.
What do I do? Clasp your hands together in a fist in front of you, then raise them straight above your head. As you breathe out, lean to one side as deeply as you can without bunching up your shoulders – you should feel a stretch along the longer side. Breathe in to return to the middle, and stretch towards the other side to balance out. After that, give your neck and shoulders a little shake, too, if it feels nice.
What’s it good for? Giving your brain the timeout it needs.
What do I do? Absolutely nothing. Ok, so savasana (corpse pose) isn’t normally done seated, but for yogis, this part of a yoga class that some might recognise as “the bit where everybody lies down and maybe has a nap” is often the hardest to get right. What does it really mean? Shutting out all our thoughts and worries, and finding some much-needed inner peace and quiet. So close over your laptop, put the smartphone out of arm’s reach and treat yourself to five minutes of doing nothing at all – you might find that a quick timeout is the stress reliever your workday needs.
Can you find five minutes to relax in your day? Have these five tips inspired your inner yogi to go stretching for more? Check back to find more mindfulness tips.