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Stress causes our body to go into the “flight or fight” response mode. This in turn causes tension in muscles resulting in stiffness. Over time, chronic pain makes its home in the shoulders, neck, head
and back. Fortunately, fitness experts have found stretching helps relieve the pain caused by stress.

Of course, it would be far better not to experience excessive stress in the first place, but in the world we live in today, that is all but impossible.

So here are some stretching exercises you can do while sitting at your desk to relive the tension caused by too much stress:

Ear-to-Shoulder Neck Stretch – Tilt your head to one side bringing that ear close to that shoulder. Now with the same side hand, pull down on your head slightly until you feel a stretch on the opposite side of your neck. Repeat the exercise twice during each session holding each stretch 15 to 30 seconds. Do the exercise again using the other side of your head and neck. To get the maximum benefit, repeat this stretch 3 to 4 times per week.

• Neck Lateral Rotation – This exercise stretches the neck horizontally instead of vertically. Start by turning your head as far to one side as you can. Hold for 15 seconds before returning to the front. Repeat 4 times in each direction as often as needed.

• Shoulder Stretch – Cross your right arm across your body. With your left hand positioned on the outside of your right upper arm, pull the right arm farther to the left until you feel tension. Repeat at least 4 times on each side as often as necessary.
• Upper Back Stretch – With this exercise, sit forward in your chair so there is room between your back and the chair back, cross your arms and grab the chair arm rests with opposite hands. Now lean back feeling the stretch in your upper back.  repeat as often as necessary.
If your chair does not have armrests, grab the underside or edge of your desk instead.
• Lower Back Stretch – Push back from your desk and while sitting in your chair, bend over at the hips attempting to touch your toes.
If you can’t go that far, then go until you feel tension. Hold for a count of 5 before returning to the upright position. Repeat as many times and as often as necessary.

Not only does stretching reduce the stiffness caused by stress, but it also increases blood circulation throughout the body. This allows tight muscles to relax and increase brain function, along with improving heart performance overall and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.