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Managing Anxiety AND Why Yoga & Breathing are Helpful Tools


As we move into a very busy season with school ending and our summer schedule beginning, I feel the energy buzzing all around. Be mindful as you run from one thing to another, to please take time for self-care and grounding. As a reminder… you can’t give to others if you are empty. When we try to give from an empty place - we end up overwhelmed and oftentimes anxious. While anxiety symptoms vary widely, odds are good that at some point you've experienced occasional physical and emotional distress signals such as panicky breathing, your heart pounding in your chest, trouble sleeping, feelings of dread, or even loops of worry. That's normal. By itself, anxiety isn't a problem. It anchors the protective biological response to danger that boosts heartbeat and breathing, pumping oxygenated blood to your muscles as your body prepares to fight or flee. A dose of healthy anxiety can persuade you to get to work on time, push you to study hard for an exam, or discourage you from wandering dark streets alone. National surveys estimate that nearly one in five Americans over 18, and one in three teens ages 13 to 18, had an anxiety disorder during the past year. The costs of anxiety Constant anxiety takes a toll on our health. For example, anxiety increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, raising blood pressure, which contributes over time to many health problems. A 2017 Lancet study using brain scans measured activity in an area called the amygdala, which mounts split-second responses to danger and encodes memories of frightening events. It showed greater activity in the amygdala correlated with higher risk for heart disease and stroke, possibly, the researchers speculated, by triggering immune system production of extra white cells to fight perceived threats. In people struggling with emotional stress, this might drive inflammation and plaque formation that could lead to additional health issues. Chronic anxiety can affect our quality of life. Intrusive thoughts, dread of panic attacks, intense self-consciousness and fear of rejection, and other hallmarks of anxiety disorders compel people to avoid anxiety-provoking situations. This interferes with relationships, work, school, and activities as people isolate themselves, turn down opportunities, and forgo possible joys in life. There are effective treatments for anxiety Treatment is tailored to the individual situation. Effective options may include:

  • Lifestyle changes, such as skipping caffeine, exercising regularly, and avoiding medicines or substances that might cause anxiety symptoms.

  • Mind-body approaches, such as yoga, deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, and techniques to ease muscle tension and promote calm.

  • Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy. CBT teaches people to challenge and reframe distorted or unhelpful anxious thinking, because thoughts influence feelings and actions. Exposure therapy helps people tolerate and calm anxiety by gradually exposing a person to feared situations or objects under guidance from a therapist.

  • Medicines, such as short-acting drugs called benzodiazepines, which are taken as needed when anxiety spikes. Low doses of some antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), help relieve anxiety when taken daily.

Why is Yoga & Breathing so Helpful in Reducing Anxiety? Yoga is a Mind-Body Treatment. Given the physical symptoms of anxiety, it follows that any successful anxiety treatment would be best if it addresses both the mind and body, which is what makes yoga and breathing such an effective option. Yoga can address both the symptoms and causes of anxiety, while strengthening the tools needed for emotional regulation. Yoga’s positive impact on anxiety and anxiety disorders is supported by a growing body of research. Recent published meta-analyses of yoga for anxiety have concluded that yoga is an effective and safe intervention for individuals with anxiety disorders or with elevated levels of anxiety. Other researchers have found evidence to suggest that yoga for children and adolescents may also help reduce anxiety. While researchers continue to make the case to the medical establishment for yoga as treatment strategy, nothing is stopping you from using yoga as self-care. One of the many beautiful aspects of yoga is that it requires no special equipment — though a yoga mat is helpful — so there’s nothing to stop you from practicing. Empower yourself and heal Whether you have struggled with anxiety or watched someone you love struggle - We are all impacted by this somehow. Understanding it in a different way and by knowing the difference between just talking about it trying to live with it, struggle with it, or cope with it…but actually healing it. That’s where we empower ourselves and access a more fulfilling quality of our life. I invite you to move the energy in your body, intentionally breathe often to regulate your nervous system, and find gratitude in living in the present moment. Take time to fill up and take back your life to create the life that brings you peace and JOY. This is my hope for all of us. Much love, Allie



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