Stress is the elephant in the room that people aren’t talking much about in the medical world today.
We now know about so many ways that stress can affect our health. Unmanaged stress is associated with an increased incidence of cancer and heart disease. And did you also know that stress makes some medications less effective? It’s associated with anxiety, depression, and even severe episodes of COVID and long COVID.
I’ve discussed the problems associated with elevated cortisol on this blog before. So, over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing several evidence-based interventions that are shown to lower stress and improve health outcomes.
In our world today, it’s imperative that we manage our stress in order to reduce the risk of disease, improve our health span, and live longer and healthier lives.
Yoga: A Powerful Therapeutic Intervention
There is a plethora of evidence that yoga is an effective tool in managing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Is work stress taking a toll on your health? Research has shown that yoga can help decrease depression and occupational stress in as little as one to two sessions a week!
Yoga has been shown to improve a number of factors that affect heart disease risk. The benefits of yoga can include weight loss, lower blood pressure, and even reduced cholesterol.
People with Parkinson’s disease can benefit from yoga in several ways. Yoga can help with mobility, stability, and even reduce tremors. Yoga’s added mental and social benefits can improve overall quality of life of people living with Parkinson’s. One study showed that one 90 minute session of yoga with two 20 minute at-home practices for eight weeks reduced anxiety and depression scores by 52% and 47%, respectively.
Yoga can improve quality of life in cancer patients as well. Just a single 60 minute weekly session for eight weeks was shown to improve anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
Studies have found that practicing regular yoga can lead to lower levels of cortisol and improved feelings of relaxation and well-being. This can be especially beneficial for those who are under a lot of stress or have difficulty managing their emotions. In addition, yoga can help to regulate the body’s autonomic nervous system and improve sleep quality, both of which are important for good mental health.
Yoga as a Stress Antidote
Yoga by itself is a very powerful intervention. Just once per week has been show to be effective in reducing anxiety and depression as well as improving quality of life. It activates the mind and body and encourages mindfulness, lowers cortisol, improves flexibility, and activate the brain. Why not try it for yourself and see if yoga can help you restore a sense of calm and improve your health.
Is Yoga Right for Me?
This may be the most important paragraph in this post. While there are many benefits of yoga for stress relief and health, it is important to determine if yoga is appropriate for your specific needs and medical conditions. For some individuals, especially those with hypermobility and connective tissue disorders, certain yoga poses and movements can actually cause damage and setbacks. If you have a joint condition, have experienced joint dislocations, or have been diagnosed with a connective tissue disorder, you should speak with your doctor before starting a yoga practice to determine what modifications may be needed or if yoga should be avoided. For those without these conditions, we often recommend other practices that still provide the benefits of movement and mindfulness without damaging joint tissues. While yoga can be beneficial for many, it is essential to listen to your body’s cues and avoid any poses or movements that cause pain or discomfort. Consult your physician to determine the best stress-reducing and health-promoting practices for your specific situation.
Stay tuned over the next few weeks as I discuss more interventions that can alleviate the health effects of stress. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss these important posts!
Since 2010, Richmond Integrative and Functional Medicine has been helping people to restore their health and hope with an integrative approach to conventional and alternative medicine that’s entirely science-backed. We at RIFM believe everyone is made for health. We offer a comprehensive, in-person patient membership program to ensure you get access to the care you need to thrive.
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