No more ‘mysterious blue liquid’ and more realism in adverts for tampons and pads. Finally. (The Pool) Prebiotics can potentially reduce stress response in those suffering from anxiety and depression. (NCBI) Losing weight in the ‘anti-dieting’ age. (New York Times) The case […]
Do you do yoga? It’s something I always recommend yoga to my stressed out clients. It’s incredible for reducing cortisol, the major stress hormone, and getting people to focus on the quality of their breathing. In addition, a recent study shows that yoga and meditation can significantly improve brain function and energy levels.
Personally, I used to favour high intensity exercise like spinning or HIIT. I love the feeling of being sweaty and full of endorphins after a good workout. I’ve done yoga over the years, but always tended to favour ashtanga yoga, again for that feeling of having done a great sweaty workout.
Then at the end of July, my right knee really started to bother me and I ended up spraining it after doing a particularly vigorous HIIT session full of jump lunges and squats. I didn’t want to stop working out, but I knew I needed to find something that was gentle on my knees and could help the healing process.
I have friends that are yogis and I’ve always watched their Instagram posts of their various poses with a mix of joy and awe. Then when I got injured, I thought: ‘I should actually try this now’.
And so I did. I had heard a lot of good things about the 30 day introductory programme from Yoga with Adriene, so I fired up the YouTube app and off I went.
You might be asking why I didn’t just head to a local yoga class? Well, I’ve always preferred to workout at home. I did the Kayla Itsines’ programme at home last year and loved being able to do a workout in the morning and then quickly get on with my day, rather than schlep to the gym. Rest assured, this isn’t about gym shyness, but rather my own scheduling choice. If I can schedule it, I still love doing a spin class at Psycle or Another Space for the community and camaraderie.
And I digress. The first few days of my yoga challenge were tricky, as I realised how tight my calves, hamstrings and upper back were. In the downward facing dog pose, my feet were virtually in 45 degree angles. I then made it a goal to not only finish the 30 days, but also get my heels further to the ground in downward facing dog and start to build towards doing a proper crow pose.
I also decided to create a bit of a ritual in my yoga practice. I light a lovely candle, get a big glass of water and set my intention of making my practice a moment of self-care.
I found something addictive in doing yoga everyday. Perhaps it was was the ritual, perhaps it was knowing that I was building towards something. I don’t usually exercise every day, but managed to do yoga every day during the 30 day challenge, bar two. Towards the end of the challenge, I started to crave my daily yoga ritual. I really noticed it if I missed out my morning yoga session and would try to do something after J’s bedtime.
So how did I feel at the end of the 30 day challenge? The physical, emotional and spiritual benefits are undeniable. Physically, I am more flexible and toned. Emotionally, I am calmer, more centred & focused and my anxiety has been kept at bay. Spiritually, I am more open and truly grateful to have had this opportunity.
Do you practice yoga or any other bodywork, such as pilates? What are the benefits for you?
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In those moments of anxiety and panic, when your mind is racing, your heart is beating at 100 miles an hour and you’re not sure if you can get through the next 10 minutes, let alone the rest of the day, just breathe.
Yes, this seems obvious, but is it something you do to help manage your anxiety?
Try this exercise:
Take a deep breath in through your nose for five seconds. Then out through your mouth for five seconds. And again. And again. And again.
Do this until you start to settle, your heartbeat slows down and you feel like you have a little more perspective on the situation that was troubling you.
Even though breathing is essential, most of us spend our days shallow breathing, taking short, shallow breaths that don’t really allow us to take in enough oxygen and breathe out enough carbon dioxide. And for those of us that suffer from anxiety, this shallow breathing can exacerbate moments of anxiety and panic.
Deep breathing allows us to move from the sympathetic nervous system, which is activated in ‘fight or flight’, high stress moments (frankly, this is the system most of us, with our busy, highly stressed lives tend to rely on) to the parasympathetic nervous system, which is activated in calm, ‘rest and digest’ moments.
Have you used breathwork to manage your anxiety? Has it helped?
In my usual pre-flight mad dash through the airport, I did a sweep of WH Smith for my standard holiday pile of magazines (I find reading fashion magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar so relaxing on holiday! I don’t really know why, though? 🤔) and […]
I’ve written a bit about anxiety on the blog before, but never really told my own story. Since it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, here in the UK, it’s time for me to share.
I recently ‘outed’ myself in a consultation with a friend at nutrition school.
She asked to describe how I felt when I felt anxious.
I described a fist clenching, gut wrenching experience, at its worst. A feeling that makes it necessary to prep myself for everyday situations, such as meeting new people, meeting new friends of friends. A feeling that makes it necessary to give myself pep talks to get through situations I would ordinarily be able to manage. A feeling that makes everyday situations seem insurmountable.
I don’t have anxiety, everyday, all day. It’s at its worst when I’m not taking care of myself, when I’m drinking too much, not getting enough sleep, indulging in all of my food cravings. It’s during these times, my anxiety gets better of me and I go into crisis mode.
Over the years, I’ve learnt how to manage it. Eating well and getting enough sleep are key. Eating well to me, means eating at least 7 servings a day of vegetables (especially green leafy and cruciferous veg!) and fruit, adding in some nuts and seeds in different forms, getting good quality protein, mainly meat and some fish. It also means not having much sugar and drinking lots of water, some kombucha and lovely, warming herbal teas.
I’ve discovered recently that alcohol exacerbates my anxiety. Which makes sense, knowing that alcohol depletes vitamin B6, a key vitamin for the production of serotonin, the feel good hormone. I was sad to say goodbye to my evening glass of red wine, but even happier to spend the day on an even keen mentally.
How you manage your anxiety? The more I research, the more I discover. There are so many different tools that folks tend to use, from deep breathing techniques, to CBT, to adding and subtracting food to and from their diet, to taking various supplements.
I supplement with a good women’s multivitamin, an omega-3 fish oil with a good DHA to EPA ratio and magnesium, which helps me relax and ‘unclench’ a little. On the advice of a collegue at school, I’ve recently started supplementing with inositol, a substance produced by plants and animals, that belongs in the B family of vitamins. It helps mood regulation and can reduce anxiety.
Fingers crossed, my cobbled together approach seems to be working well so far. What do you do to manage your anxiety on a day to day basis?
Anxiety seems to be a growing problem these days, especially amongst young people. Various pressures – societal, economic, physical, technological, emotional, political – mean that people are being pulled in many directions, increasing their day to day anxiety and decreasing their ability to cope. […]