Stretching is a natural physical and mental stress reliever. Taking time for a short stretch in our day – at home, in your classroom or office, outside, at the gym – can help us refocus with refreshed attention. Stretching can be particularly effective during times of stress, transitions (i.e., shifting between learning and nutrition breaks, winding down at night, when we start our day, etc.). When we stretch, we connect back to our bodies and our surroundings. This may help us relax and feel better in our bodies, which in turn may help us feel calmer and more prepared to take on our next task.
In today’s Wellness Wednesday, let’s stretch!
As a class, group, or family:
· SMHO has some simple and effective stretches to do anytime, anywhere. Start with these “Let Go And Stretch” exercises (elementary: https://smho-smso.ca/fw/stress-management-and-coping/stretching/let-go-and-stretch/ or secondary: https://smho-smso.ca/fwsecondary/stress-management-and-coping/stretching/let-go-and-stretch/)
· Side stretch:
o Stand up straight and tall with shoulders relaxed. Take a deep breath and let it out with a sigh.
o Now breathe silently. Bring your palms together above your head and stretch them as high as you can. Relax your shoulders as you breathe out. Keeping your arms stretched high, breathe in and gently lean to one side, from your hips.
o On your next breath out, stretch a little bit further. Breathe in and out as you center yourself. Breathe in and tilt from your hips to the other side.
o On your next breath out, lean a little further, then centre yourself again.
o Shape your hands into fists and place them on your hips. Breathe in and stand tall, shoulders relaxed. Now twist from your waist to one side, as you breathe out.
o Take another breath and then twist a little further as you breathe out. Breathe in as you come back to the center. Breathe out and twist a little further from your waist to the other side. As you breathe in, come back to the center.
o Bring your hands to your heart. Notice if you feel a little more relaxed or strong.
· Tree stretch:
o Stand tall, stretch your arms up and away from your sides as far as feels comfortable, and relax your elbows and shoulders. Shift your weight onto your right foot and lift your left foot off the ground. Gently place the sole of your left foot against the inside of your right leg, avoiding your knee. For balance, focus your eyes on the floor or keep your arms at your side instead of raising them.
o Imagine you are a tree, and you are growing arm branches out towards the sun.
o Bring your left leg down and repeat with the right leg.
Ask yourself, there is no wrong answer:
How could stretching help in my life?
Is there a time in my day that I could add in a stretch?
Connecting to our faith:
Stretching and letting go of tension caused by unpleasant feelings and emotions can be an opportunity for students to deepen their understanding that they can surrender the worries and stresses to God.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
RESOURCE: SMHO’s Stretching Exercises (elementary) https://smho-smso.ca/fw/stress-management-and-coping/stretching/ (secondary) https://smho-smso.ca/fwsecondary/stress-management-and-coping/stretching/
ARTICLE: “Stretch Your Body, Stretch Your Mind” https://resilienteducator.com/lifestyle/body-stretch-exercises/
SHARABLE IMAGE: SMHO’s Muscle Relaxation “Stretches” https://smho-smso.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/2-Stretches.png
SHARABLE IMAGE: SMHO’s Muscle Relaxation “Chair Exercises” https://smho-smso.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/3-Chair-Exercises.png