Now more than ever, it is important to care for your health. And we aren’t just talking about social distancing and hand washing, either. For 911 dispatchers, both mental and physical well-being are pushed to the limits by long hours at a console desk. Here, these first ‘first’ responders guide people through some of the biggest challenges they may face in their lives, and are under constant stress. But how do essential personnel like dispatchers practice mental and physical self-care to reduce stress when they need to be at a desk for 12 hours a day?
Seated yoga is a great option for a moment of mindfulness.
We asked @abbymartindoesyoga to put together a special seated yoga series just for dispatchers (and others!) who need to find a moment of zen, and increase mental and physical health. Enjoy all yoga poses in a row, or individually when you have a moment.
1. Neck Stretch
Abby says: The key here is to go slow to protect your neck!
2. Wrist Stretch
Extend your arms out in front of you, flexing your wrist so your fingers point up. Gently take your left hand and pull back on the right thumb. Continue gently pulling back each finger. Then, gently press left palm against pointer, middle, ring, and pinky finger, getting a deep stretch in the wrist. Repeat on the left hand.
3. Seated Cat/Cow
Place your hands palm down on your legs. On an inhale, push out your chest and belly and roll your shoulders back. Gently tilt your head back and bring your gaze up. On an exhale, slide your hands forward, tuck your chin, and arch your back like an angry, Halloween cat drawing your belly into your spine.
Abby says: This is a great exercise to wake up the spine, open the chest, and stretches the neck and torso.
4. Seated Eagle Arms
Extend your arms out in front of you. Cross your right arm over your left arm, gently connecting at the elbow. Bend your elbows, raise your forearms perpendicular to the floor. Wrap your arms and your hands and press your palms together. If this is unavailable, you can bring the backs of your hands to touch. Hold for 3-5 breaths.
Abby says: If raising your forearms is unavailable, you can always bend your elbows and give yourself a hug!
5. Side Bends
Sit up tall. Raise your left arm over your head, then gently lean toward the right side, reaching the left arm toward the right side of the room. Be sure to keep your back straight and not hunch over. Hold for 3-5 breaths. Repeat on your right side.
Abby says: This pose stretches the muscles in-between your ribs, which can shorten and tighten when sitting for long periods of time.
6. Seated Pigeon
Scoot your chair back so you have enough room. Lift your right leg and bring your right ankle to rest on your left leg, making a figure four with your leg. Flexing your right foot, gently lean forward, resting your hands on your right leg. Take 3-5 breaths here. Repeat with your left leg
Abby says: Pigeon is one of my favorite poses to really stretch out your hips. An important step here is to flex your foot to protect your knees.
7. Seated Child’s Pose
Placing your hands on your desk, gently bend forward extending your arms further onto your desk. Your head might come to rest on the edge of the desk, or you can let it hang gently. Actively reach your arms forward to stretch your back. Flip your hands palm up to achieve a passive stretch of your entire torso. Take 3-5 breaths here.
Abby says: Child’s pose is a nice, restorative pose. This pose relaxes muscles in your front body and gently stretches the muscles of your back body.
Remember, yoga is a practice for continuous stress management!
Every day will be different and every little bit counts. If you cannot practice a couple of these poses a day, practice some mindful breathing. Mindful breaths - with slow exhales - relax your body and take you out of ‘fight or flight’ mode that can be triggered by stress. This can be done in tandem with other activities, even while you are washing your hands!
From all of us at Watson, take care of your mind, along with your body, during this stressful time.