Sarah Maxwell shares her Christmas exercise stress busters

With Christmas around the corner, I’m focusing on the benefits of stretching, to keep you in tip top form – both mentally and physically – during this busy season.

Although Christmas is billed as a relaxed and fun time of year, we all know the resulting stress that comes from being the main person handling the load! Creaking joints, stiff back and a general feeling of exhaustion is known to increase anxiety and sleep deprivation can cause us to run on empty very quickly.

When you add these factors together over a prolonged period of time, it can have a dramatic impact on the effectiveness of our immune system, leaving us wide open to all manner of bugs and viruses over the holiday break. 

Stretching, combined with good breathing technique is proven to have a multitude of benefits and doesn’t have to take up much of your precious time. In fact, by doing a short daily routine it can actually create more productive time in your day by giving you more physical energy and a calmer state of mind.

In my younger years, stretching was something I neglected. Time constraints abound and, coupled with my naturally stiff-as-a-board body, there was no way I was going to get into the positions I had seen people 30 years older than me doing effortlessly! Thankfully, I have now embraced stretching and enjoy the huge benefits that derive from doing a very short and simple routine at the start of my day.

Stretching regularly increases your range of movement (so important for healthy backs and joints), improves blood flow to essential organs and has a positive effect on our posture. Treating yourself to a good stretch is also great for your mental health, relieving tension and reducing stress. Steady breathing whilst stretching releases endorphins – the happiness chemicals that can also help to reduce pain and allow you to relax and recharge.

So if you’re running on empty, with your brain spinning at 100mph, give these simple exercises a try for a few minutes a day over the festive season and I guarantee it’s the best ingredient I can share with you for a very Merry Christmas.

Child’s Pose 

This is great stretch for those times you feel anxious and overwhelmed. 

Sit on your heels (wide apart) and tuck your legs underneath you. Reach your arms in front of you, resting them right beside your ears. Relax the head down towards the floor and breathe steadily.

Legs against wall

Find a space where you can lie down on your back and raise your legs, resting your heels on the wall. Let your arms rest beside you or place them on your belly. Relax yourself into the foot and breathe steadily. If you don’t feel comfortable in this position, shuffle your bottom a little away from the wall until it feels good.

If you’re keen to find out more, 

The British Wheel of Yoga has some great resources to explore and information on what’s on in your local area bwy.org.uk

Above all, have a wonderful, stretchy Christmas! 

Sarah Maxwell is a multiple award-winning Fitness and Lifestyle coach and mum of two who juggles a lot of balls. Find out more about Sarah and her work at sarahmaxwell.com 

Sarah shares her Fitness and Lifestyle tips on Instagram @sarahmaxwelllifestyle

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