How to Wake up A Tired or Stressed Body
If you’re in treatment for a mental health issue or and addiction disorder, we’re sure you’ve heard about how important it is to stay active and keep your body moving. Experts recommend all kinds of exercise that can help.
From running to cycling to yoga to tai chi, they’re adamant that you do something – anything – every day.
But since you’re a busy teen, you might not get a chance to work out every day.
The problem is that when you don’t move your body at all, you create a negative cycle. You get grumpy. You feel tired. Feeling tired makes you want to avoid exercise, which makes you grumpier. Your muscles and joints – that love to move every day, by the way – get stiff and creaky. They beg for action. But the more days you skip, the stiffer and grumpier you get.
Don’t worry, though: there’s a quick way to fix that.
The Routine: How to Feel Better, Fast
This little routine can be used anywhere, anytime. You can do it at home, at school, outdoors in a park – anywhere you have room to life your arms to your sides, like lining up in gym class – and anytime you have three to five extra minutes to fill. This sequence is based on a common warm-up practiced in workout classes and/or martial arts schools basically anywhere on earth. But it works outside those contexts, too, because it’s simple, addresses almost the whole body, and is easy to remember. You can try in the morning before you interact with the world. You can try it during lunch break at school, or right after school, before your extracurricular activities begin. It’s also a great little routine to do at night, when the day is done, as a simple way to reset and balance your body before hitting the sack.
Step 1: Start at the Top
Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and take a moment to center your mind. Bend your knees slightly. Give your upper torso an easy shimmy and shake. Then roll your shoulders ten times backwards and ten times forwards. You can get your upper body into it, too. No one is watching. This should feel good, almost sensual.
After rolling your shoulders, move up to your head and neck. Stretch your neck by looking left and right ten times in each direction. Then look up and down – chin to chest, eyes up to the ceiling – ten times in each direction.
Step Two: Move Down to the Arms
With your feet shoulder-distance apart and knees slightly bent, make big, inside-out circles with your arms, like this: lift your arms up in front of your chest as you cross them, palms and forearms facing you. Continue lifting them over your head and turn your palms out when they reach their maximum height, then keep circling as you open your arms to the side. Let them circle all the way out and return to the front of your chest, palms and forearms facing you. Make continuous circles. Do at least ten of these, then repeat in the opposite direction.
Step 2: Turn the Torso
This one is easy: turn your hips and waist side-to-side and let your arms fall where they want to. Try to keep your knees and thighs facing forward while you turn. As you gain momentum, let your arms lift up as you pass through the center. When you turn to the side, let one arm tap your kidney area in back while the other taps your chest/shoulder area in front. Flop side-to-side at least ten times in each direction.
Step 3: Get Hip
Put your hands on your lower back, just below your ribcage. That’s right where your kidneys are. Step your feet a tiny bit wider than shoulder-width. Then turn your hips in big circles. Ten in one direction, ten in the other.
Step 4: The Needy Knees
Step your feet together, bend you knees, and place your palms on your kneecaps. Make ten circles in one direction, then ten circles in the other. Don’t go too far to the side. Knees are not so great with lateral motion. These easy circles will lubricate those tricky knee tendons. Trust us: when you’re older you’ll appreciate the time you take now to be kind to your knees.
Step 5: The Leg Bone is Connected the Ankle Bone
Move all your weight to one side, so it’s all on either your left or right foot. Plant the ball of your other foot firmly on the ground. Make ten circles – of the planted foot – in one direction, the ten in the other. Repeat on your other foot.
Step 6: Stretch it Out
Bring your feet together, bring your hands together, then lift your hands above your head and turn your palms toward the sky (or ceiling). Lean your upper body to the right, feeling a nice long stretch along the whole left side of your body. Repeat that stretch ten times on each side. Next, without dropping your hands – they should still be over your head, palms up – exhale and twist 90 degrees to the right, then inhale through the center, exhale again and twist 90 degrees to the left. Repeat ten times on each side.
Congratulations – that’s it!
A Little Movement Goes a Long Way
Do this in the morning and your body will thank you. Do this after sitting at your desk at school and your body and mind will thank you. Do this to calm and recenter after a stressful day, and you’ll thank yourself for taking the time for self-care. This short amount of movement will grease the wheels and give your body the movement it needs to keep you from feeling stiff and tired. And believe it or not, this simple routine can wake up your mind and improve your focus, too.
Got five minutes?
Give it a try right now.
Angus is a writer from Atlanta, GA. He writes about behavioral health, adolescent development, education, and mindfulness practices like yoga, tai chi, and meditation.