Photo: Victor Koldunov, YFS Magazine, Adobe Stock

How to Manage Stress With Mindful Movement Breaks

Manage stress and get more done. Mindful movement practices can improve mental clarity, reduce anxiety, and promote physical and mental health.

It’s no secret that mind-body movement and mindfulness practices can improve mental clarity, reduce anxiety, and promote physical and mental health. While mindfulness is important for all of us, it can be particularly impactful when you run your own business and are faced with a series of important decisions on a daily basis.

Kaleen Canevari Founder of Flexia
Photo: Kaleen Canevari, Founder of Flexia | Credit: © Canevari Photo

However, when you’re faced with a stressful day and an endless to-do list, the last thing you feel like doing is taking a moment to breathe and move your body.

Consider using these mindset shifts to include more mindfulness and movement into your workday with minimal time commitments.


Let go of all your ‘shoulds’

Oftentimes, the biggest barrier to finding time for self-care practices like mindfulness is the unspoken rules surrounding what it should look like. Some of these rules might include:

  • I need to dedicate an entire hour to yoga, pilates, or meditation practice, or else it doesn’t count.
  • I have to change into the right clothes beforehand and I don’t have enough time during the day.
  • It’s best to practice self-care activities in the morning, but I don’t like to get up early or it doesn’t feel good to move or stretch first thing in the day.

While there’s nothing wrong with any of these beliefs, it’s worth noting you can still benefit from mind-body movement at any time during the day, for any amount of time, in any setting.

Meanwhile, when you let go of your “shoulds,” it’s much easier to make time for activity based on the realities of your workweek.


Breath beyond the sweat

Consider the benefits of body movement beyond “sweat.” A misnomer about movement is that if you’re not sweating, it doesn’t count. However, any kind of body movement can help you feel better and more energized.

One way to think about this is “brain alertness” versus “body alertness.”

When you’re reaching for that late afternoon cup of coffee, do you need caffeine or do you need a moment to check in with yourself and release some of that stiffness from staring at a screen for several hours?

Photo: Victor Koldunov, YFS Magazine, Adobe Stock
Photo: Victor Koldunov, YFS Magazine

Even if you don’t have time to change clothes or the privacy to bust out your yoga mat in your office, there are still creative ways to take a movement break.

Here are some ideas and if you still need that cup of coffee afterward, that’s okay too!

  • Perform 10 minutes of gentle movement and breathing exercises at your desk to release any tension that has built up. This could include seated twists and simple shoulder or hip stretches.
  • Stand up and move around to hit the reset button on your body and brain. Sometimes all it takes to get focused is a 5-minute walk up and down the hall or around your office.
  • If you have the space available, open your favorite fitness app and look for a class in the mind-body category (that you may overlook during your normal designated workout time).

Another benefit of movement breaks is when you hit the gym after your workday, you will feel better prepared for a more intense workout. Instead of walking into the gym feeling stiff and stressed, you may feel much more ready to take on the treadmill, spin bike, or weight room.


Remember, self-care isn’t selfish

As leaders, we tend to take on a lot of responsibility and put the needs of our business and employees ahead of our own. While this might help you get more done in the short term, it’s an unsustainable approach to life and business – and can ultimately lead to burnout.

When your body feels better, you’re less likely to be distracted during meetings by stiffness, aches, and pains. If you’re less stressed, it’s easier to make better decisions. When you have energy, you can get more done and you tend to feel more motivated to work.


Mindfulness practices shouldn’t feel like an additional chore or guilt trip. Instead, they are a simple and effective tool to help you manage stress and continue to feel good while getting things done. Remember, your needs are just important as everyone else’s. Even if it doesn’t always feel that way.


Kaleen Canevari is a pilates teacher, mechanical engineer, and the founder of Flexia, a connected fitness company. Flexia helps people build strength, flexibility, and mindfulness through pilates with their smart reformer and online classes which combine to offer real-time feedback, track progress, and make personalized recommendations for what’s next. To connect with Kaleen follow her on Instagram @kaleencanevari or to learn more about Flexia, visit FlexiaPilates.com.


© YFS Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Copying prohibited. All material is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this material is prohibited. Sharing of this material under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International terms, listed here, is permitted.


In this article