April: Stress Awareness Month
April is Stress Awareness Month, the month we realize how much stress we’ve been carrying around like that heavy yoga mat you have to carry to and from your car. It’s awkward, weird, and doesn’t seem like many other people are carrying these things around. Let’s take a minute to notice the impact stress has on our physical and mental health…spoiler alert: it’s not great.
Stress is like that annoying friend that always shows up uninvited, overstays their welcome, and leaves you feeling drained…. You know who I’m talking about (also this would be a great time for boundaries)….
In a 2016 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, it was found that yoga and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques were effective in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms in individuals with generalized anxiety disorder.
Here’s the thing, when stress hits our bodies, our bodies go into ‘flight or fight” mode, I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s like we start running a marathon without leaving our desk chair. The problem… chronic stress can do some serious harm to our bodies like:
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Decreased immune function (Literally just had the worst pink eye of my life, because apparently our immune system is also impacted by stress)
- Digestive issues
- Chronic Pain (yeah…it might actually be your boss, or at least the stress you’re under)
- Anxiety and Depression
- Cognitive Impairment (aka: brain fog)
So unless your house cleans itself you may be thinking, “yeah sure Erin, I’ll just get less stressed out….great idea, didn’t think of that!”
Yoga and mindfulness techniques can help us reduce stress by reducing muscle tension, improving sleep quality, increasing feelings of well-being, promoting a sense of calm and relaxation, and enhancing our overall physical and mental health because we deserve our best! The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that practicing yoga for 12 weeks was effective in reducing perceived stress levels and improving overall well-being in people with high-stress levels.
At YESyoga we pride ourselves in taking care of you on your mat because the last thing you need is to be stressed out and then have us put you over the edge with all the crap that doesn’t even belong in yoga class. No need to get your heart rate up, no need to make you do jumping jacks, no need to put your foot behind your head. Show up, destress, and take on life - it’s hard enough without us telling you to “do more!”
So, if you’ve been feeling a little stressed out, it’s time to roll out your yoga mat!
Here are 10 more ways to help reduce the impact of stress in your life without hiring a private chef…
- Practice yoga or other physical activity regularly
- Practice mindfulness meditation daily
- Take breaks during the workday to stretch and move around (FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GET UP FROM YOUR DESK EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE THAT ISN”T JUST TO PEE - Sorry, was I yelling?)
- Engage in relaxing activities such as reading, listening to music, or taking a bath
- Connect with loved ones regularly
- Eat a healthy diet and stay hydrated
- Get enough sleep each night
- Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption
- Practice deep breathing techniques
- Seek professional help if you are struggling to manage your stress levels
Now, these seem simple but ask yourself if you’re currently feeling the impacts of stress in your life, reflect on the week, and notice if you have actually done any of the above and make time for yourself and your mental health.