As you well know, women are phenomenal creatures. We are fighters, politicians, doctors, lawyers, leaders, artists, singers, lovers, mothers, and so much more. Between our numerous at-home jobs (don’t forget the at-home titles of chef, nurse, maid, chauffeur, and partner), many of us struggle to find a moment to ourselves.
This International Women’s Day, we’d like you to do just that – enjoy a little “me” time—and celebrate the wonders of women while you enjoy an extra lie in on the weekend; revel
in the release afforded by a stretch session; or take a long walk in the woods.
Celebrate the highs (hello, pregnancy) and lows (no thanks, menopause) that come with being a woman, and take a minute to be thankful for the fact that you’re part of this amazing group of humans who can both create life and break social and economic barriers around the world.
Not sure how to start celebrating? First, reward your body for all its hard work by carving out time
for a stretch session. Stretching can help relieve everything from stress-related tension to PMS cramps to depressive symptoms associated with menopause.
Bust PMS Cramps
A study published in the Oman Medical Journal found that combining 10 minutes of stretching the belly and pelvis with five minutes of warm up exercises relieved pain associated with dysmenorrhea (a.k.a. painful periods). The pain relief was found to last longer the more often the routine was practiced. Other studies have proven that abdominal stretching and Pilates exercises can also reduce PMS-related symptoms.
Keep Your Heart Healthy During Pregnancy
Stretching daily from 18 weeks of pregnancy to the date of your baby’s delivery has been found
to lower a mother-to-be’s heartrate, thus reducing her risk of preeclampsia. A more recent study, published in the International Egyptian Journal of Nursing Sciences and Research, found that women who stretched regularly from 28 weeks of gestation experienced a significant decrease in back pain.
Improve Menopausal and Depressive Symptoms
According to researchers of a study published in the Journal, Menopause, 10-minutes of daily stretching before bed can decrease both menopausal and depressive symptoms without increasing
your risk for hot flashes (sign me up!).
With so many tasks on our plates, it’s no wonder women are eternally stressed. The more tension we experience, the worse its effects (think sleep disorders, weight gain, anxiety, depression and heart disease). That’s where daily stretching comes in. Whether you take a few minutes in the morning, during a work break, or before you hit the pillow at night, it’s important to find time to stretch regularly.
Stretching can help relieve tight muscles, improve your range of motion (which has been hindered by all that sitting), boost your posture, and improve your circulation and memory, among other impressive benefits. The result, a less stressed, happier you!
Improve Your Relationships
We know that stretching can improve our moods, hearts, and overall health, but did you know that stretching with others (be it your kids or your spouse) can improve your relationship? By creating
a shared experience and carving out time to spend together, stretching with another person can help strengthen your bond and increase communication.
Want to boost the loved-up results? Entwine your fingers while you hold a stretch. Researchers
at the University of Virginia found that hand holding can reduce stress, induce calm, and increase your connection. If you practice stretching with a partner, you may experience the added bonus of increased intimacy.
Happy International Women’s Day! Be thankful that you’re you, reward yourself with a relaxing stretch, and celebrate the wonders of women around the world today and every day.