Yoga for Stress Relief

Yoga for Stress Relief

Did you ever consider to use breathing exercises, yoga poses, and meditation to calm your body and mind?

Did you know that an estimated 80 to 90 percent of visits to the doctor are stress-related ?! And that only less than 3% of doctors talk to their patients about how to reduce stress ? Or that Yoga, meditation, and other mind-body practices train the body and mind to be able to cope with stress better and improve overall health and well-being ?

In a national survey, over 85% of people who did yoga reported that it helped them relieve stress. Exercise is a very useful way to relieve stress, but yoga is different from spinning class or weight-lifting in that it powerfully combines both physical fitness with an underlying philosophy of self-compassion and awareness. 

One of the main concepts in yoga is being non-judgmental toward both yourself and others, which is a powerful tool for stress relief since much of our stress comes from us being hard on ourselves or frustrated with others.

A fundamental principle of yoga is that your body and mind are one and connected.

Stress in one domain will affect the other and vice versa. Many of us live primarily in either our mind or our body, which creates imbalance and even a lack of awareness. For example, people with very analytical careers may spend a lot of time in their mind, and may not realize how much tension is stored in their body. Or if you’re an athlete, you may be keenly aware of your body, but could benefit from becoming more aware of your mental state. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, yoga you helps balance and tone the connection between your body and mind.

Yoga also trains your counter-stress response system called the parasympathetic nervous system. With regular yoga practice, your chronic daytime stress hormone levels drop and your heart rate variability increases, which is measure of your ability to tolerate stress. This has been shown to improve even after a few sessions of yoga.

How can you integrate yoga into your daily life to get rid of stress?


1. Use your breath.

  • Breath is key to connect with your body and turn down the dial of stress.
  • Start with learning Ujjayi breath (a.k.a. Ocean Breath) and use it in each pose. Take a deep slow breath through your nose and exhale through your nose while constricting the back of your throat in the “ha” shape, but keep your mouth closed. Your breath should be loud enough that someone next to you could hear it and should sound like the waves of the ocean or like Darth Vader from Star Wars.
  • Try a calming breath called Alternate Nostril Breathing.

 

2. Here are yoga poses for stress relief. Use your Ujjayi breath in each pose.

 

  • Tara Brach, a psychologist and meditation teacher, describes this acronym RAIN— a mindfulness tool to help you deal with stress and cope with difficult situations:
  • R – Recognize what is happening
  • A – Allow life to be just as it is
  • I – Investigate inner experience with kindness
  • N – Non-Identification—the realization or awareness that we are not defined or limited by our emotions or stories.5. Aim to be kind to yourself.

 

  • Kindness and positive emotions protect and cushion you from the burdens of stress and have been shown to improve physical health and depression.
  • It’s really easy to learn to be hard on ourselves, so unlearning that self-judgment can be difficult but worthwhile. Being self-compassionate doesn’t come naturally for most people, so it takes concerted practice and intention every day.
  • How can you begin to remember to be kind to yourself on a daily basis? It’s different for everyone. Maybe you can give yourself time to spend time with a close friend, let yourself spend extra time playing music that you usually don’t let yourself enjoy, or perhaps try a loving kindness meditation.

 

By extending kindness and love to ourselves first and foremost, we are able to expand our ability to accept, forgive, and love.

Positive emotion will naturally grow around you and reduce stress both yourself and the people around you.

So even if you’re not doing a pose on your yoga mat, by being kind to yourself regularly every day, you are doing yoga in one of its most powerful forms.

 

 

 

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Sport Psychology: Depression

Sport Psychology: Depression

The role of sport as a protective factor for physical health is well known and supported by numerous scientific literature. 

In the recent years, more and more studies have clarified and shown the protective role of physical activity and mental health.

So far, studies on the relationship between sport and mental health have paid more attention to depression, showing that physical exercise produces changes in the body and brain, with a strong antidepressant effect.

Depression is a chronic condition with a prevalence of up to 20% throughout life and is a major source of disability. The standard treatment recommended in clinical guidelines includes pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. Physical activity and sport are indicated in these guidelines for their beneficial effects in the treatment of depression. Several recent studies have analyzed the effect of sport on depressive symptoms, presenting firm conclusions about its effectiveness.

In a theoretical synthesis, published on December 2016 in the Preventive Medicine journal, was concluded that it exists a strong link between physical activity and mental health. More specifically, lack of physical activity predisposes to a high risk of developing depression, while moderate physical activity is a major protective factor for prevention of depression.

Researchers, coordinated by Felipe Schuch of Centro Universitario La Salle, Brazil, used the meta-analysis method to summarize the results of three longitudinal studies that investigated the association between cardiovascular resistance and depression (cardiovascular resistance refers to system capacity circulatory and respiratory system to provide energy support during exercise).

Researchers started from the hypothesis that low cardiovascular resistance is associated with a high risk of depression. Two of the three studies were conducted in America and one in Sweden and included a total of 1,142,669 people, of whom almost 98% were men (1,128,487 men and 3040 women).

Cardiovascular resistance was measured by objective methods – treadmill exercises, pedaling on a stationary bicycle and climbing stairs. The mental health of the participants was measured by standard tests at the beginning and end of the studies. Participants were observed up to 40 years after the end of the study.

It turned out that women and men with low and medium levels of cardiovascular resistance were at high risk of developing depression. In particular, those with the lowest and median cardiovascular resistance levels were 75% and 23% more likely to develop depression than those with the highest cardiovascular resistance. It has been found that high cardiovascular resistance is a significant protective factor against depression both for women and men. Cardiovascular resistance can be enhanced by sports.

The researchers’ conclusion was that interventions aimed at improving cardiovascular resistance through sports provide significant antidepressant benefits. These are backed up by data from previous studies showing that any level of physical activity, including low levels such as light exercises or a walk, can prevent depression.

In a separate study, published in June 2016 in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, the same researcher, Felipe Schuch, along with his colleagues investigated whether physical exercise could be useful as a treatment for depression already installed. They synthesized the results of 25 studies, including 1487 people, where people with symptoms of depression above the clinical threshold or with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder who followed an exercise program were compared with people with symptoms depressed over the clinical threshold, or with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder that did not exercise.

Generally speaking, physical exercise has a significant and high antidepressant effect for people with depression. In particular, moderate and high intensity aerobic exercises supervised by a qualified instructor have significantly improved depressive symptoms, with better outcomes for people with more severe symptoms. The authors conclude that previous studies may have underestimated the benefits of physical exercise for people with depression and argue that the data from this analysis provides robust evidence of the effectiveness of exercise for depression management.

It is clearly established that sport produces changes in body functioning and shape. Mechanisms through which physical activity alters our mental state and emotions are less understood. In February 2016, Felipe Schuch and his colleagues have publications study in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, in which they investigated neurobiological responses after exercise in people with major depressive disorder. In other words, they were interested in finding out what changes in the body and brain during sports, and how these changes could lead to an improvement in mental status. Researchers have synthesized data from 20 studies, including 1353 people diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

Blood samples were analyzed before and after doing sports. Researchers argue that the etiology of major depressive disorder is unknown and multifactorial. They point out that exercise induces acute responses (transient effects occurring immediately after a round of exercises) and chronic responses (changes that occur after a longer period of training), both having effects on the endocrine system, neurogenesis, inflammation, oxidative stress, and cortical activity. It is believed that complex interactions between these systems could provide an explanatory response to the antidepressant effect of sport, but they are not fully understood. The study found that sport significantly reduced certain markers of inflammation and increased levels of hormones and biochemicals that are believed to contribute to brain health. However, more studies are needed to reach a firm explanation.

Generally speaking, physical exercise is considered a valid intervention, with significant and undeniable beneficial effects for the management of depression symptoms. The main message of the researchers is that people need to be active to improve their mental health.

 

 

 

Sport Psychology: Depression

Depression and Sport

The role of sport as a protective factor for physical health is well known and supported by numerous scientific literature.

In the recent years, more and more studies have clarified and shown the protective role of physical activity and mental health. So far, studies on the relationship between sport and mental health have paid more attention to depression, showing that physical exercise produces changes in the body and brain, with a strong antidepressant effect.

Depression is a chronic condition with a prevalence of up to 20% throughout life and is a major source of disability. The standard treatment recommended in clinical guidelines includes pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. Physical activity and sport are indicated in these guidelines for their beneficial effects in the treatment of depression. Several recent studies have analyzed the effect of sport on depressive symptoms, presenting firm conclusions about its effectiveness.

In a theoretical synthesis, published on December 2016 in the Preventive Medicine journal, was concluded that it exists a strong link between physical activity and mental health. More specifically, lack of physical activity predisposes to a high risk of developing depression, while moderate physical activity is a major protective factor for prevention of depression.

Researchers, coordinated by Felipe Schuch of Centro Universitario La Salle, Brazil, used the meta-analysis method to summarize the results of three longitudinal studies that investigated the association between cardiovascular resistance and depression (cardiovascular resistance refers to system capacity circulatory and respiratory system to provide energy support during exercise).

Researchers started from the hypothesis that low cardiovascular resistance is associated with a high risk of depression. Two of the three studies were conducted in America and one in Sweden and included a total of 1,142,669 people, of whom almost 98% were men (1,128,487 men and 3040 women).

Cardiovascular resistance was measured by objective methods – treadmill exercises, pedaling on a stationary bicycle and climbing stairs. The mental health of the participants was measured by standard tests at the beginning and end of the studies. Participants were observed up to 40 years after the end of the study.

It turned out that women and men with low and medium levels of cardiovascular resistance were at high risk of developing depression. In particular, those with the lowest and median cardiovascular resistance levels were 75% and 23% more likely to develop depression than those with the highest cardiovascular resistance. It has been found that high cardiovascular resistance is a significant protective factor against depression both for women and men. Cardiovascular resistance can be enhanced by sports.

The researchers’ conclusion was that interventions aimed at improving cardiovascular resistance through sports provide significant antidepressant benefits. These are backed up by data from previous studies showing that any level of physical activity, including low levels such as light exercises or a walk, can prevent depression.

In a separate study, published in June 2016 in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, the same researcher, Felipe Schuch, along with his colleagues investigated whether physical exercise could be useful as a treatment for depression already installed. They synthesized the results of 25 studies, including 1487 people, where people with symptoms of depression above the clinical threshold or with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder who followed an exercise program were compared with people with symptoms depressed over the clinical threshold, or with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder that did not exercise.

Generally speaking, physical exercise has a significant and high antidepressant effect for people with depression. In particular, moderate and high intensity aerobic exercises supervised by a qualified instructor have significantly improved depressive symptoms, with better outcomes for people with more severe symptoms. The authors conclude that previous studies may have underestimated the benefits of physical exercise for people with depression and argue that the data from this analysis provides robust evidence of the effectiveness of exercise for depression management.

It is clearly established that sport produces changes in body functioning and shape. Mechanisms through which physical activity alters our mental state and emotions are less understood. In February 2016, Felipe Schuch and his colleagues have publications study in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, in which they investigated neurobiological responses after exercise in people with major depressive disorder.

In other words, they were interested in finding out what changes in the body and brain during sports, and how these changes could lead to an improvement in mental status. Researchers have synthesized data from 20 studies, including 1353 people diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Blood samples were analyzed before and after doing sports.

Researchers argue that the etiology of major depressive disorder is unknown and multifactorial. They point out that exercise induces acute responses (transient effects occurring immediately after a round of exercises) and chronic responses (changes that occur after a longer period of training), both having effects on the endocrine system, neurogenesis, inflammation, oxidative stress, and cortical activity.

It is believed that complex interactions between these systems could provide an explanatory response to the antidepressant effect of sport, but they are not fully understood.

The study found that sport significantly reduced certain markers of inflammation and increased levels of hormones and biochemicals that are believed to contribute to brain health. However, more studies are needed to reach a firm explanation.

Generally speaking, physical exercise is considered a valid intervention, with significant and undeniable beneficial effects for the management of depression symptoms. The main message of the researchers is that people need to be active to improve their mental health.

 

Recommendations for a healthy lifestyle.