I talked here about some of the important things I do to cope on my worst mental health days, but one thing I didn’t mention is stretching, as I wanted to talk about that in a little more detail. Around 4 years ago, yoga became my number one go to for self-help with my mental health. But you don’t have to do a full yoga practice, or even have any belief in the spiritual practice of yoga to feel the physical benefits. The poses carried out in yoga, called asanas, stretch and strengthen the body. This not only helps soothe tired or tight muscles, one of the physical symptoms of depression, but can also aid digestion and help blood flow.
I know that if I am feeling numb and depressed, yoga always helps me feel a little less stagnant, so even on bad days, when I have no hope of making it to a yoga class, I try to drag myself to my mat for a 5-minute stretch. But even that is too much on some days. Sometimes there isn’t even the chance of me leaving my bed and making it to the mat.
So recently I started thinking about a few stretches I could do in bed so I could still feel some of the benefits of yoga without having to move too far, instead of just abandoning my body for a whole day. I realised there were some restorative poses that work perfectly in bed, and even better with a pillow and duvet for comfort and support. I spend anywhere between 10 to 45 minutes on these poses, but however long you take, you will feel the benefit of taking a little care of your body, even if your mind isn’t at its best.
Legs up the Wall Pose
Probably my current favourite, squishing my bum right up to the edge, or top, of my bed and stretching my legs up the wall always helps some energy start to flow around my body. I normally get a big comfy pillow under my head, and try to stay there for 10-15 minutes to really relax. Sometimes this will be all I do for the day, and it still helps. This is also great before bed if you’ve had a really long day, or work on your feet.
Another deeply relaxing pose, stretching your hips and upper back, is child’s pose. I normally take a big pillow to cuddle between my chest and legs while doing this in bed, as it helps me feel super comforted. You can spray essential oils onto your pillow too here for some calming aromatherapy while you relax.
Reclined Bound Ankle Pose
The final stretch I find relaxing and energising in bed is the reclined bound ankle pose. You can also do this a little further down your bed with arms stretched over head for a stretch to your core and back. Get a comfy pillow under your head and lay here for as long as you like, or until you fall asleep!