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Top Stretches for Stress Relief and Mental Clarity

Stretching is good for the body and the mind.

Stretching before and after exercise is an important part of preventing physical injury. However, according to Kien Vuu, MD, anti-aging physician, founder of Vuu MD Longevity & Performance Clinic, and author of Thrive State, the practice is also an important component of your mental health. "Do stretches during times of stress to help maintain mental clarity and physical well-being," he tells Best Life. "Remember, taking care of your body is an essential part of achieving your dream lifestyle." Here are five easy stretches to help with stress relief and mental clarity. 

Neck Stretches

woman holding neck

Dr. Vuu recommends regularly stretching your neck. "Softly tilt your head to one side by bringing one ear towards your shoulder, and hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side," he instructs. "This helps relieve tension in the neck and shoulders, promoting mental relaxation."

Cat-Cow Stretch

Young yogi men practices yoga asana bitilasana or cat cow pose in urban studio.

The cat-cow stretch, popular in yoga, is another great exercise. "Begin by being on your hands and knees. Inhale as you bring an arch to your back, lifting your head and tailbone, the Cow Pose. Then, exhale as you round your back, tucking your chin, the Cat pose. Repeat this flowing movement several times to release tension along your spine," he says. 

Child's Pose

Yoga teacher in childs pose in front of class

Another popular yoga pose-slash-stretch? Child's post. "Begin in a kneeling position, then lower your upper body forward, extending your arms in front of you. Rest your forehead on the ground and hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute," says Dr. Vuu. "This gentle stretch relaxes the back and calms the mind."

Seated Forward Bend


He also recommends the seated forward bend. "Sit with both of your legs extended in front of you—hinge at your hips to reach for your toes or ankles," he says. "Hold for 30 seconds while breathing deeply." This stretch promotes relaxation and can help clear the mind.

 RELATED: 11 Easy Things You Can Do to Slow Down Aging

Legs Up the Wall


The last stretch he recommends is legs up the wall. "Lie on your back with your legs extended up a wall or a sturdy surface," he says. "This restorative pose improves circulation, reduces swelling in the legs, and calms the nervous system, promoting mental clarity and stress relief."

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more
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