The American Psychological Association (APA) offered insight into five science-based strategies to manage stress, specifically for healthcare professionals due to the demands on those professionals throughout the pandemic. The third strategy is “Ground Yourself”.
The APA suggests closing your eyes, being aware of your body and any surfaces you are touching, and focusing on the sensations. Focusing on your physical surroundings and being aware of details allows us to assess the environment and connect to the present. Specifically focus on the the good, the neutral, and the negative aspects, do not allow yourself to dwell on the negative.
Health Benefits of Yoga
Harvard Medical School specifies that yoga does not only offer physical health benefits, but also mental ones, especially reduced stress and depression and increased mental function. Yoga allows for the development of brain cell connections and changes in brain structure, which is displayed in improved memory and other cognitive abilities. Harvard says MRI studies on people who do yoga regularly show a thicker cerebral cortex and hippocampus, and less shrinkage in older yoga practitioners compared to their non-participating counterparts.
The practice of yoga also reduces stress hormones and an increase in endorphins and GABA, gammaaminobutyric acid, which is known to reduce anxiety and improve your mood. Another study showed the combination of yoga and music were the most effective stress reducers when compared to massage therapy, stress management, and progressive muscle relaxation. Yoga has also been found to help improve PTSD when combined with other therapies.
Yoga Poses for Stress & Anxiety
HealthLine.com offers a variety of pose suggestions specifically for anxiety reduction. Here are a description of five of these poses, take a look at their article for several more:
- Hero Pose –
- Get into a kneeling position. Your knees should be together, and your feet should be slightly wider than your hips.
- Keep the tops of your feet flat on the floor.
- If this is uncomfortable, put a cushion or block under your buttocks, thighs, or calves.
- Place your hands on your thighs.
- Sit up straight to open your chest and lengthen your spine.
- Hold this pose for up to 5 minutes.
- Triangle Pose –
- Come into a standing position with your feet wider than your hips.
- Face your left toes forward and your right toes in at a slight angle.
- Lift your arms to extend out from your shoulders. Your palms should face down.
- Extend your torso forward as you reach forward with your left hand.
- Hinge at your hip joint to bring your right hip back. Take your left hand to your leg, the floor, or a block.
- Extend your right arm up toward the ceiling.
- Gaze in any comfortable direction.
- Hold this pose for up to 1 minute.
- Then do the opposite side
- Fish Pose –
- Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you.
- Place your hands underneath your buttocks with your palms facing down.
- Squeeze your elbows together and expand your chest.
- Then lean back onto your forearms and elbows, pressing into your arms to stay lifted in your chest.
- If it’s comfortable, you may let your head hang back toward the floor or rest it on a block or cushion.
- Hold this pose for up to one minute.
- Extended Puppy Pose –
- Come into a tabletop position.
- Extend your hands forward a few inches and sink your buttocks down toward your heels.
- Press into your hands and engage your arms muscles, keeping your elbows lifted.
- Gently rest your forehead on the floor.
- Allow your chest to open and soften during this pose.
- Hold this pose for up to two minutes.
- Child’s Pose –
- From a kneeling position, sink back onto your heels.
- Fold forward, walking your hands out in front of you.
- Allow your torso to fall heavy into your thighs, and rest your forehead on the floor.
- Keep your arms extended forward or rest them alongside your body.
- Hold this pose for up to 5 minutes.