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Stressed Out? Try Yoga for Stress Management!

Lion's Breath can be a great technique for stress relief
Mental Health / Modern Yoga / Yoga for...

Stressed Out? Try Yoga for Stress Management!

When we hear the word “stress”, then we probably all have an image, a physical sensation or even a certain moment in our heads. Stress is so common, be that at our work place, at home or with friends and family, and while we can’t always avoid things that are stressful, we can try and control how we deal with it – but more on that later.

What is stress?

Stress is a defence mechanism our body uses against danger or predators. Even though we might consider it as something “dangerous”, it is actually our body’s way to protect us, similar to when it is fighting an infection. Once we face said “danger”, our body responses with either fight, flight, or freeze. Depending on your reaction, you might notice certain changes in your body such as, increased heart rate (fight), decreased digestive system (flight), or turning numb (freeze).

How we deal with our threat can differ massively from person to person, but a major factor is our current mental health. In other words, if you’re having a good day and feel resourceful and at peace, you are likely to deal with a stressor more efficiently than if you’re having a really bad day and feel overall drained (to use a very general example).

Even though we use stress in all kinds of situations, it’s a very broad term that can mean lots of different things, depending on the context – there is even “good” and “bad” stress. Here is ways to differentiate between them:

What is stressed?
  • Physical stress: physical trauma, overworking the body, suffering an injury
  • Emotional stress: mental stress such as mental trauma or cognitive stress (doubts, not feeling loved)
Is the cause something good or bad?
  • “Good” stress (eustress): Adrenaline rush when you’re facing something exciting but also a little bit challenging
  • “Bad” stress (distress): feeling overwhelmed by a situation, having too little time to relax and recharge
What time period are we talking?
  • Acute: very current, short-term stress, for example from a recent argument with someone
  • Acute episode: current stress that happens episodically, say feeling anxious while visiting your family ever other month
  • Chronic: lasting stress over a longer period of time, such as being overworked for months

As you can see, there are different types of stress and various ways how to tell them apart. In my case, I am talking about bad, psychological stress that last over any time period. Luckily, yoga and similar mindfulness practices are great tools to manage this type of stress.

How can yoga help me with stress?

Understanding your body, your physical and mental needs as well as your triggers and resources (things that make you feel safe and grounded) are all valid tools to manage your own stress level. A yoga practice, be that movement on the mat, practicing meditation or pranayama (breathing exercises) are all great methods to get to know your body and mind better. And only when we know ourselves, then we also know what would benefit us in a stressful situation.

Are you feeling anxious or overwhelmed at worked? Maybe closing your eyes and taking a few conscious breaths into the belly can help. Feeling blocked creatively? Perhaps a short walk without any electronics can help you clear your mind. Noticing how sore you are from tensing your jaw due to a stressful conversation? A few moments on the mat might help you with this. Do you see where I am going with this?

At the end of the day, what resources – so tools that help you recharge and recenter – you choose for which situation is up to you. Resources to combat stress can be a hot shower if you feel numb, a cup of coffee on your balcony to start your day and ground yourself, taking a walking meditation during lunch time, massaging your face or feet as an act of self love or even making a date with a loved one.

Because yoga is not just about the physical practice, it’s a mindset. We want to be kind to ourselves, be gentle and understanding. Humans aren’t machines, we react emotionally to things that stress us – and that is OK!

If you want to dive deeper into a physical practice for stress management, you might enjoy my 5-day Yin Yoga course specifically (also available in German).

Please leave your stress management tools in the comment so we can create a big collection and inspire each other to combat stress. You’ve got this!

 

 

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