Stress and Anxiety is Common!
We live in a fast paced and demanding culture. Taking times of rest and learning how to make space for our emotions is seen as a “weakness”, or something we don’t have time for. Instead, we are taught to deal with things quickly and move on (or brush it under the carpet and forget about it).
Many women today are prone to suffering stress, anxiety and just feeling overwhelmed. In fact, it is estimated that 45 percent of Australians will suffer some form of mental health condition in their lifetime (Beyondblue 2016).
Under high levels of stress, the sympathetic nervous system takes over and we are on the alert to deal with the stressful situation. It’s a very healthy and powerful response the body has to ensure we are kept safe. However, it’s not designed to be in overdrive 24/7. It’s designed to pump out stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to help get us to safety and quickly. As the stress and anxiety is removed, the body switches into the parasympathetic system and we begin to relax.
When Does Stress Become Anxiety?
But what if we are constantly putting ourselves back into that stressful environment or situation day after day? What if the stress was emotional that we haven’t acknowledged and that keeps resurfacing? Scientific studies are discovering the body’s response to stored physical and emotional trauma and how this can result in severe anxiety and depression.
Anxiety can express itself differently depending on the individual, and it’s seek proper medical diagnoses. But anxiety is basically when the body no longer knows how to switch off the stress response. You live in a constant state of fear, panic, and restlessness. Perhaps even the smallest of events might set you off into an over-reactive state of fear. Perhaps you’re not even sure why you feel anxious and worried.
I lived with anxiety for several years, which eventually escalated into panic attacks that would leave me feeling like I was going to die. I was put on anti-depressants to help manage my stress and anxiety. But what I found to truly help manage my stress and anxiety was neurologically retraining my brain to switch off this stress response and to allow the rest and relax side to operate (switching from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic). There are studies now discussing how yoga can do this (Streeter et al, 2012).
Yoga has become very much a part of my life and my maintenance program to ensure I don’t lapse back into that heightened stressful state. It’s something I’m passionate about sharing with others.
Balasana, Child’s Pose.
So how about starting today? Even if you haven’t been medically diagnosed as suffering stress and anxiety, yoga can help if you’re feeling overwhelmed and restless.
Balasana, or Child’s pose is one of the simplest poses to practice. Even if you’ve never practiced yoga before you will find this pose easy, yet so powerful. This is my go-to pose whenever I feel my stress and anxiety building.
This humble little pose gently stretches the muscles of the back, separates the vertebrate, and tones the central nervous system–helping to alleviate anger, frustration, anxiety and depression. It also tones the adrenal glands and reproductive glands (important in hormone balance).
There are additional health benefits too. Balasana can be used to correct constipation, help manage irritable bowl syndrome, menstrual cramps and irregularities, fibromyalgia, hot flushes from menopause, back complaints, the list goes on.
Simply come to the knees (place support under the knees or buttocks if required) and fold down over the thighs, either reaching the hands out in front of the body, or wrapping them around to rest along side the body. Allow the head drop and breathe deeply. Easy!
Now drop and give me Balasana.