Something I’ve always slacked on is stretching. I know it feels amazing, and I know it’s good for me, but somehow, I always end up skipping it. My fiancé, on the other hand, is an avid stretcher and does so for about an hour each night. I’m one to wind down early (I’m usually asleep by 9 p.m.), and most nights I just want to be lazy and scroll mindlessly through Instagram until I fall asleep. But during this time of social distancing, I’ve been craving real connection a little bit more.
My partner is an essential worker, which means that for most of the last month and a half, I’ve been at home by myself. During this alone time, I’ve been mostly sedentary, moving a bit every now and then when I feel up to it. While I’m grateful for the opportunity to truly rest, I’ve found that my muscles have been tighter than usual because I’m not getting as much exercise, which has led me to join my man in his evening stretches.
Since life looks so different now and my days have been lacking their usual structure, having a nightly routine I can count on has been a big help. Trading excessive screen time before bed for stretching with my partner has helped me to feel present and connected, while quieting my mind from the anxious thoughts that bombard me throughout the day. I also feel less like an eager puppy when he gets home from work, because I know that we’ll have time for us to just breathe together after he’s had time to decompress from the day.
Stretching with my partner has helped me to feel present and connected, while quieting my mind.
Each night after dinner, we’ve been rolling out our mats, plugging in our string lights, and returning to our breath. We both move in whatever ways feel good, and stretch with no time limit or rules. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we do breathing exercises together, and other times we put on some classical music and just listen to what our bodies are telling us. One thing I know for sure is that the benefits go way beyond soothing tight muscles.
Prioritizing time for us to decompress as a couple has been great for our relationship, as well as our mental and physical health. Something about intentionally slowing down together and taking time to breathe sets the stage for easy conversation to flow. While we’re stretching, we can talk about anything in a state of pure relaxation, and that’s why I’ll continue this long after social distancing ends.