Stretch For Your Mental Health

Why stretching can be a valuable part of your mental health regime

Who has ever experienced back pain? Or maybe a migraine? Who has felt out of sorts when they are experiencing this physical pain? We know that we sure have. Physical pain can interrupt our ability to focus, it can make us more reactive, and it can impair our compassion. One way that we can prevent a mental health crisis is to maintain a commitment to establishing our physical health through exercise, eating nutritious food, taking deep breaths and stretching.

This year the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH) launched their campaign ‘Mental Health is Health’. This means that health cannot exist without mental health.

Understanding the links between mind and body is the first step in developing strategies to reduce the incidence of co-existing conditions and support those already living with mental illnesses and chronic physical conditions.

When you exercise and stretch, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain.

Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as "euphoric." That feeling can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life.

One of the simplest ways to integrate movement into your life is through stretching. The best parts about stretching are that it doesn’t take very long and is doable from any location! From sitting in an office chair, to being in a piece of equipment, stretching is an amazing way to interrupt pain with a fresh flood of endorphins!

Stretching isn't limited to just the daily does of feel good chemicals. Stretching also...

1. Improves posture

One of the most overlooked components of our overall health is posture. Good posture can dramatically improve certain aspects of our physical health, and bad posture can be highly destructive — causing stiffness, soreness and aching muscles. Without properly stretching, posture suffers, and that can have deep ramifications on our mental health. Some studies have even shown that bad posture can deepen depression.

2. Reduces stress

When we are stressed, it’s natural for our muscles to tense up. The slow, calculated movement of stretching is calming to the mind and relieves tension. This makes stretching a very simple but effective way to reduce stress.

3. Helps with the longevity of your joints

Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.

This all sounds pretty great, so how can YOU make this an easy part of your daily routine?

We recently met with Will Bergmann of Bergmann Bros. Farms who graciously demonstrated FOUR SIMPLE STRETCHES that you can do anywhere. Will is a passionate full time family farmer, and you can follow him and his inspirational journey on Twitter at https://twitter.com/will_bergmann and on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/will_bergmann/.

Remember to always stretch both sides of the body and that although we may think our body is symmetrical, both sides will feel slightly different!

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