Stretching & Breathing

You don’t need complex or long-winded exercises in order to feel the mental health benefits. In fact, some of the simplest movements can be the most effective ways to de-stress.

Some of the benefits stretching and breathing can have on your mental health:

  • Stretching can activate your parasympathetic nervous system and release endorphins (the ‘feel good’ chemical)
  • Deep and slow breaths can help you feel calm and grounded.
  • Stretching can boost energy levels, relieves stress and help you to control pain.
  • Breathing and meditation can help to improve self-awareness and self-esteem.
  • Meditation can increase focus and concentration.

 Stretch for Stress Down Day Video

Video Transcript

“Hi, my name is Sun, and I am here with our herd of veteran mental health therapy horses to teach you a simple ‘Stretch for Stress Down Day UK’ exercise that links your mind with your body.

By doing this set of exercises at least 3 times a day, you will reduce stress and improve your mental health by automatically triggering the release of feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain to produce positive euphoric, feel good feelings.

The Stretch to Stress Down exercise doesn’t take very long. It can be done wherever you are: walking, watching TV or with friends and family. It can be done standing or sitting down.

As you go through this exercise, try to pay attention to what is going on with your body, i.e. focus on the sensations of the movement. After a few minutes, you should feel calm, energised and relaxed, and may even have a better night’s sleep. The more you practice, the better the benefits.

Step 1.

Stand or sit with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees soft and slightly bent if you are standing, and your arms relaxed by your side.

Have your head level and keep your eyes open with a soft focus.

Spend a few moments noticing any areas of tension in the body, choose one area that jumps out to you the most, and notice how tense it feels out of 10.

Breathe into this tension and then breathe out, letting go of the tension as best you can. When you breathe out, try to notice (out of 10) how tense or relaxed the identified area in your body is now. Repeat the process again, a further 7 times.

Step 2.

Breathe out, and gently sink the weight of your legs into the ground. When you breathe in, allow a wave of movement to rise from your feet.

The more you drop the weight of your legs into the ground the better the flow through your body.

Raise your arms to shoulder height, or above. On the next out breath, release your arms back to resting by your side.

Repeat 7 times or until the movement is smooth.

If you notice no change or are now aware of more tension, just notice that, and be patient. Don’t worry if it does not work. It may not seem like anything is getting better. But if you keep practicing the exercise every day, your mental health resilience will improve, and your stress will reduce.”

Please consider fundraising for us.

You can create your own fundraising challenge through  or donate online via and help us to help others.


You should understand that when participating in any activity, live event or online session through Stress Down Day and FirstLight Trust you agree that you do so at your own risk. You accept that you are voluntarily participating in these activities, assume all risk of injury to yourself and those you are responsible for (i.e. children/family/others who participate in any online/real time session). You agree to release and discharge FirstLight Trust and Stress Down Day from any and all claims or causes of action, known or unknown, arising as a result of online/real time sessions.