The Impact of Stress
Did you know that long-term stress has significant effects on the body and mind? Stress results from our reaction to events in our environment, and particularly when we feel we do not have enough resources to cope with a situation. Stress can result from time constraints at work, family commitments, negative interactions with others, financial uncertainty, just to name a few.
Fight or flight is the state of the autonomic nervous system resorts to when responding to a threat in the environment. Our body essentially acts as if we are under attack, a longstanding evolutionary tactic that has kept our species alive for thousands of years. However, this area of our nervous system and brain does not do a good job at differentiating between what is a real and urgent threat to our life, and what is not. It tends to respond this way even to minor stressors in our life.
What happens when we stay in fight or flight too long? The hormones secreted during this bodily state result in increased heart rate and breathing, muscle tension, slowed digestion, and more. We also may start feeling moody and agitated. Prolonged stress (staying in “fight or flight” for extended periods of time) can lead to an increased likelihood of mental health issues as well as physical health problems including heart disease.
Relieving Stress with Yoga
There is some good news! There are ways in which we can substantially decrease the impact of the stress response, as well as regulate our emotions and body so that we are less reactive to stress in the environment. One way to do this is through regular yoga practice.
Just some of the mental benefits of yoga include:
· Improved cognitive functioning
· Improved memory
· Improved attention
· Lower stress levels
· Improved emotion regulation
· Relief from anxiety
Some of the long-term physical benefits of yoga include:
· Lower blood sugar levels
· Relief from chronic back pain
· Improved lung capacity
· Lower blood pressure
Starting something new can be challenging. However, there are so many accessible ways to start yoga, and there is a yoga class out there for anyone regardless of physical strength, flexibility or skill. Trying out a local beginner class is a great place to start, or head to YouTube for accessible beginner and guided classes. Additionally, TLC-VR regularly holds virtual yoga challenges for anyone and everyone. Follow our page for more information!
Gothe, N., Khan, I., Hayes, J., Erlenbach, E., Damoiseaux, J. (2019). Yoga effects on brain health: A systemic review of the literature, Brain Plasticity, 5(1), 105-122