Yoga for Stress and Anxiety
In today’s world, stress creeps up in many different ways. Stress and anxiety can significantly affect not only our mood and performance but our relationships. Unfortunately, not many things are in our control, and sometimes stress and anxiety are inevitable. It is up to us to find alternative ways to deal with stress.
Below are some points to ponder:
WebMD defines stress as “the body’s reaction to harmful situations — whether they’re real or perceived.”Stress is how you protect yourself. It increases your heart rate, tightens your muscles, breathing quickens, and raises your blood pressure (1).
According to The American Psychological Association, anxiety is “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure.” (2)
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We are not experts on mental health. However, the effects of mental health can directly correlate with fitness- which is more of our forte.
Stress and anxiety can impact our fitness journey in a variety of ways:
1. Chronic stress can affect our energy levels and reduce muscle recovery (3).
2. In a 2018 study, researchers found that psychological stress raised cortisol levels in every participant. This increase caused 80% of “stress-eaters” to eat 41% more food (2).
3. Feeling stressed makes it more likely we will skip the gym (4).
4. High-stressed people may see lower strength gains than those who are low-stressed (5).
5. Feeling stressed can hurt our muscle’s ability to recover from lifting weights (6).
6. A study found that when overweight participants were exposed to stressful situations, they wanted to eat more dessert-like foods than those of healthy weight. They also ate more carb and fat-rich foods than those of healthy weight exposed to the same stressful conditions (7).
7. According to the anxiety and depression association of America, stress, and anxiety can cause sleeping problems or make existing problems worse (8).
Loss of sleep is troublesome because:
- Lack of sleep increases the risk of injury (9).
- Researchers have found that sleep-deprived individuals eat an average of 300 more calories than those who have a full night’s sleep (10).
- Furthermore, a 2018 study found that those who only slept for 5.5 hours lost less fat and more muscle mass than those who slept for 8.5 hours (11).
- A 1994 study found that sleep deprivation leads to a significant reduction in weight lifting performance (12).
What can we do?
There is a lot of evidence that being active can help you lessen the effects of stress and anxiety.
As we mentioned in our post, Yoga benefits for beginners, 2 of the many benefits of Yoga are that it helps lower anxiety levels and deal with stress.
- In 2018 a study found that practicing Yoga for 60 minutes per week for eight weeks helped cancer patients ease their anxiety (13).
- A 12-week randomized controlled trial on work-related stress found that those who took a 60-minute class once per week showed a significant reduction in work-related stress compared to the control group. The Yoga group also had a substantial increase in stress adaptation, while the control group did not show any improvements (14).
- A study by De Moor et al. found that those who exercise regularly tend to deal better with stress and anxiety than those who don’t (15).
- Research has found exercise to be associated with reductions in depression and anxiety. While being sedentary has been related to the development of psychological disorders (16).
- Finally, a related 2018 study found that any physical activity can positively impact our mental health (17).
We found a helpful Yoga flow created by Jessica Richburg with the sole purpose of relieving stress and anxiety.
Yoga is just one of many ways to cope with stress and anxiety. Creative classes, meditation, or just jamming out to your favorite song in your living room can help you beat the uncertainties of this world and put you back in the driver’s seat.