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By Jakaeden Frizzell
World Mental Health Day is Saturday, October 10th. Let us take the opportunity to refresh this blog series and discuss the interplay between physical and mental health. I encourage you to review at, minimum, the first two blog posts in the series, before continuing to the main content:
This series has been written from a physical health perspective with the goal of enhancing professional performance, but it is important to understand that physical health and mental health are not separate modalities. Often, signs of poor mental health can manifest as physical symptoms. Alternately, physical activity can have a positive affect on mental wellness. In keeping with the theme of the series, this blog post will explore a strategy for taking mental breaks and combatting a sedentary office – or home office – lifestyle by using stretching as a performance management strategy.
A professional lifestyle nowadays sees one spending hours of their day sitting at a desk working on a computer. It should be no surprise that the lack of physical activity is of concern for long term health. Standing desks, kneeling chairs, and lunchtime walks are a few positive ways to stay healthy in this environment but there are barriers to these options; equipment comes with a price tag and walking can be affected by available time, space, or weather. Stretching is a low-barrier method to keep healthy in a sedentary work environment with the added bonus of creating short mental breaks throughout a busy day.
Below are examples of stretching routines you can follow at your desk to combat sitting. Invent your own or do a google search to find more options!
Schedule yourself reminders throughout the day to spend 5-10 minutes completing your routine. The most important thing to remember during your stretch is to do the opposite of your sitting position. Open the chest, stretch the legs, and spend time loosening your neck and shoulders. Go to the point of slight discomfort, but never pain, and hold the position for 8 seconds or more, breathing throughout. Perform a stretch multiple times in a row or in a series. It is more important to do, than to do right.