Continuing on with our focus on stress management, today we'll be focusing on meditation and yoga. These are all ways to bring that stress and anxiety level back down to easily controllable. Why are we talking about stress management? Put in the simplest way possible- stress will kill you. When we are stressed, that means our body is in "fight or flight" mode, constant stress means we're in that mode continuously. What happens during "fight or flight"? Adrenaline and Cortisol are released, adrenaline which raises heart rate and blood pressure (among other things) and cortisol raises our blood sugar, and constantly raised blood sugar makes it more likely we will develop diabetes as well as heart disease. So let's take a look at some ways to help bring that stress down.....
Meditation: Meditation is a term that encompasses any relaxation technique with the goal of achieving inner peace.There are many different relaxation techniques and lots of them use components of mediation. Methods such as deep breathing, mantra meditation and guided imagery among others are considered to be methods of meditation. The focus of meditation is usually the breath. Even if we are visualizing or using muscle contraction and relaxation, the practice will always come back to focusing on your breathing. The sound, the movement of your body, the sensation of oxygen entering and carbon dioxide leaving the body. Deep breathing exercises can be done in different ways, such as to a count, or a visualization (imagine your lungs expanding fully as you breathe in). For those meditations not focused on the breath, such as mantra meditation, we are focusing on a calming word, such as the work "om". You can say it in different ways, evoking different vibrations and feelings in the body- "om" "ooom" "ommmmmm". Take a moment, close your eyes, and say that word in those different ways. We find that as we hold the word, our breathing slows and deepens. Guided imagery is also great for relaxation. This is where we control our breathing and use our mind's eye to dwell in a place we find calming, like the forest, the beach, a spa. There is a facilitator who is guiding the image, painting that picture for us verbally as we imagine it. Usually the guided image is spoken over music or nature sounds like a babbling brook or roaring ocean waves. The facilitator may also encourage to use other senses such as smell or touch. The end goal of all of these techniques is to learn to clear the mind and focus on what is in the moment. These practices of controlled breathing and deliberate relaxation work to lower anxiety levels, improve heart health, and ease depression among other health benefits.
Yoga: Yoga is also seen by some as another form of meditation, while others view it as a form of exercise. Here, we will view it as both. One thing that people may not know about yoga, is that it has a very large focus on the breath. Yoga uses a combination of controlled breathing and postures that encourage a flexible body and a peaceful mind. Yoga is also referred to as a "mind-body" exercise, meaning that it has both physical and psychological benefits.
And no! You do not already have to be skinny or fit to practice yoga. This is a common theme we hear in reason's to not participate in the practice. There's something here for everyone, where ever you are. If you're like me and cant even sit criss-cross applesauce (formerly known as Indian style), you can grab your yoga mat and block too. This method brings core strength, flexibility, and an overall awareness of the body with consistent practice. For a few yoga poses specifically targeted at stress, click here.
How RNovations can help: RNovations Health is here to help. We provide community health seminars about managing conditions. We assist people with learning the basics of their disease, medications, and treatments as well as how to make better choices one step at a time. RNO also provides education on and demonstration of different stress management techniques. We can help you with medication and nutrition review and counseling, that you can use to manage your health not only during the holidays, but every day thereafter. We also assist with health system navigation so that if you do need services, you are using the most effective mix of services. Give us a call at 804.386.4663 if you want to see how we can be of assistance to you or your group/community. You can also send us an email via the contact uspage. We're here for you!
*The information contained above is for educational purposes only. Consult with your physician before making any changes to your diet or treatment regimen. Links provided above do not constitute and endorsement of any organization, rather that the information on the linked page has been verified.