Category Archives: stress

Yoga Benefits

Many people hear “yoga”, and think Zen gardens, meditation, and free spirits. But you may be surprised to find that one recent study showed that those who incorporated yoga into their life had improved stress levels and lower blood pressure. Yoga was ultimately developed to combine controlled breathing and poses to achieve physical, mental, and spiritual strength and unity. In fact, Michelle Obama even attributes her sleek physique to frequent yoga sessions. There are multiple types of yoga, but Hatha Yoga is the most commonly practiced type in the United States.

Here are some surprising health benefits of practicing yoga that you may have never known!

Relief of Back Pain: More than 60 million Americans suffer from chronic back pain. Yoga is one of the best exercises to help alleviate pain. This is due to the increase in core stability (abdominal muscles) and the reduction of pressure across the lower back and surrounding muscles. Yoga also helps to release endorphins throughout the body that can calm inflammation. Practicing yoga for just two sessions a week may reduce or even eliminate back pain. Many individuals also report an increase in pain tolerance after attending sessions for only three weeks.

Heart Healthy: Further research also demonstrates that even one yoga session can produce a calming effect on the body, and individuals in one study showed reduction in their systolic blood pressure after only 12 weeks of two yoga sessions per week. Additionally, incorporating yoga into a cardiac rehabilitation program after a heart attack or bypass surgery has also shown promise in maintaining lower levels of stress and healthy blood pressure levels.

Increased Flexibility: You may be thinking, “No Duh”, on this one, but the benefits may be surprising. Practicing poses like downward dog, and tree pose can improve balance and flexibility. This can directly strengthen and protect your larger joints (knees, hips, back, neck) from injury and reduce inflammation in the smaller joints (fingers and ankles). This can also help reduce falls in the elderly, and ultimately avoid fractures in this age group.

Mood Booster: In addition to mental clarity and relaxation, yoga has been shown to improve depression, anxiety, and chronic stress. A small German study reviewed in the Harvard Mental Health Letter demonstrated that at the end of a three-month period, women perceived less stress, depression, anxiety, and fatigue. A few yoga classes could leave you happier and less stressed. Increased happiness alone is reason enough to give it a try!

As with any new exercise, always consult your physician before you begin. This is to ensure your body can safely complete the activity. I also recommend you attend a beginner class or view a video with some common poses. This will make you feel more confident during your first class and ensure you obtain the most benefit.

http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/shilpi-agarwal-your-holistic-health-guide/yoga-the-hidden-health-benefits-of-down-dogging

Therapy dogs

A therapy dog is a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, people with learning difficulties, and stressful situations, such as disaster areas.f115f-bd12721_
Therapy dogs come in all sizes and breeds. The most important characteristic of a therapy dog is its temperament. A good therapy dog must be friendly, patient, confident, gentle, and at ease in all situations. Therapy dogs must enjoy human contact and be content to be petted and handled, sometimes clumsily.
A therapy dog’s primary job is to allow unfamiliar people to make physical contact with it and to enjoy that contact. Children in particular enjoy hugging animals; adults usually enjoy simply petting the dog. The dog might need to be lifted onto, or climb onto, an individual’s lap or bed and sit or lie comfortably there. Many dogs contribute to the visiting experience by performing small tricks for their audience or by playing carefully structured games. In hospice environments, therapy dogs can play a role in palliative care by reducing death anxiety.

Stressed?

I’ve been teaching a stress less/relaxation class for years and below is one the handouts that participants report is most helpful.:

Change the situation: Avoid – Alter. Change your reaction: Adapt – Accept

1. Avoid unnecessary stress

Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed.

Learn how to say “no” – Know your limits and stick to them.

Avoid people who stress you out –Limit the amount of time you spend with people that cause you stress.

Take control of your environment – If the evening news makes you anxious, turn the TV off.

Avoid hot-button topics –If you repeatedly argue about the same subject with the same people, stop bringing it up or excuse yourself when it’s the topic of discussion.

Pare down your to-do list –If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.”

2. Alter the situation

If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future.

Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If something or someone is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way.
Be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to change their behavior, be willing to do the same.

Be more assertive. Deal with problems head on, doing your best to anticipate and prevent them.

Manage your time better. Plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself.

3. Adapt to the stressor

If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.

Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective.

Look at the big picture. Will it matter in a month, or a year?

Adjust your standards. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”

Focus on the positive. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts.

4. Accept what you can’t change

Some sources of stress are unavoidable, in such cases; the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.

Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.

Look for the upside. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth.

Share your feelings. Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist.

Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes.