By Janet Hennard, E-RYT500/C-IAYT~
We live in a time of extraordinary challenges. Even as the expected COVID-19 vaccine shines light at the end of a long, dark tunnel, we must carry on as best we can.
However, these challenges can take a toll on our emotional health.
A July 2020 Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that more than half of adults in the United States said their mental health has been negatively impacted due to stress over the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control reports that fear and anxiety over a new disease can be overwhelming and emotional, and that public health requirements, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and lonely, further increasing stress and anxiety.
Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way, however, will make you and your community stronger. Healthy coping starts with self-care.
There are various ways to practice self-care, and what works best varies for everyone. Exercise, prayer, talking with friends, hobbies, volunteering, and spending time outside are great self-care activities.
Yoga with meditation is an activity whose primary goal is self-care. We all know that yoga keeps us strong and flexible. These are important ways yoga also keep us emotionally healthy:
Slow, meditative yoga practiced on a regular basis increases the ability to recognize emotions and “map” them to what is happening in the body, (negative or positive). As you hone that mapping skill, you will become more motivated to avoid situations that are unhealthy or stress-inducing.
Meditation helps cultivate an easy acceptance of who we are, where we are, and our life situation. With a sustained practice, you will observe within yourself a more profound sense of acceptance and peace.
Over time, the practice of yoga breathing becomes a daily habit that provides an anchor to keep you moored during life’s storms.
Multiple studies have shown that people who practice yoga have less anxiety and depression, fewer symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and increased feelings of gratitude, compassion, self-esteem, and hope.
You can find many ways to practice yoga and meditation at home: free YouTube videos, subscription-based streaming videos, and live classes on Zoom or Facebook that are often donation-based.
Actively seeking self-care tools enables us to cope and adapt in healthy ways. Yoga offers the potential for joy and well-being, rewarding us with tools we can use in 2021 and well beyond.