Reduce stress, increase wellbeing

On the yoga blog, Flexiladies yoga we are looking at ways in which yoga can help reduce stress 

Here we look at the causes of stress, the effects on your body and mind, and how you can help reduce stress in your life.

Causes of Stress
Stress has many causes such as work overload, difficulties with colleagues, unemployment, relationship difficulties, health problems, and unhealthy living conditions such as having to cope with noise.  There are also many carers in the UK who are under significant physical, financial and psychological stress.  Having been a carer myself, this is something I can really empathsise wth.

The effects of stress
Yogis believe in the mind/body/spirit connection and the disturbance to the mind of stress often manifests itself as physical symptoms such as back, shoulder and neck pain.  This in turn can lead to tension headaches.  Stress also affects the digestive system and stress underpins Irritable Bowel Syndrome in many cases. The stress of being a carer and the intense grief when the person I cared for died, triggered IBS which thankfully I now seem to be healing from. 
Scientifically speaking stress causes the body to move into ‘flight or fight’ response which was fine when our ancestors were having to run for their lives or fight wild animals.  The response causes hormones to be released from the adrenal glands which pump up the heart rate and quicken the breathing to supply the muscles with the much needed oxygen to run or fight.  The problem is the body has the same response now, to for instance traffic jams and the hormones are not ‘burned off’ by running away.  Another  effect is that the body deposits fat in the abdominal area and in the long term this can lead to cardiovascular disease.

Reducing stress

  • Try yoga, Tai Chi, meditation and relaxation techniques.
  • When we are stressed we breathe quick and shallow, into only the upper chest.  When we are calm we breathe slow and deep.  We can create a feeling of calm when we are stressed simply by taking some consciously deep breaths.  When we practice deep breathing regularly we start to react to stressors in a more considered way.  
  • Aerobic exercise 'burns off' stress hormones.
  • Take B vitamins- B vitamins help keep the nervous system functioning well.  When we are under stress our bodies need more B vitamins and they cannot be stored in your body.
  • Stress can arise from tension in your body.  Try yoga and maybe a magnesium supplement.
  • Get enough sleep.  You are more likely to become stressed if you are sleep deprived.
  • My favourite stress buster is to spend time in nature.  After walking in the woods for an hour or by the river, things look much better.  You become more tuned in with the changing seasons and you never know what you might see - birds, deer, squirrels (I always carry some hopeful shelled peanuts!).
  • Another of my favourites is a long relaxing bath with epsom salts (detoxing) and lavender (relaxing)
  • Reduce caffeine, sugar, cigarettes and alcohol which enhance the body's stress response.
Article Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell


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