Yoga For Anxiety
Now more than ever, people of all ages and walks of life are experiencing symptoms of anxiety.
Mental Health Ireland’s, The Health at a Glance Report in 2016 reported that Ireland has one of the highest rates (3/36 countries) of mental health illness in Europe with 18.5% of the Irish population recorded as having a mental health illness such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, or alcohol/drug use in 2016.
Since then we’ve experienced a global pandemic and recent research has reported that almost 60% of people say their mental health has been impacted by the pandemic, with younger people more likely to have experienced recent difficulties with their well-being.
With this in mind, self-care practices such as exercise, practicing yoga and mindfulness, talking to family and friends and eating a healthy diet are more important than ever, for helping us all to stay healthy and happy and to improve our mental health and well-being.
Here are just some of the quick and easy tools and exercises that can be practiced by anyone who needs to relax and feel calmer:
There’s nothing like indulging in a breathing break to clear the mind and calm the body.
When you take a big belly breath, you connect with your central nervous system and ease the body out of fight or flight mode.
Place one hand on your tummy and the other on your chest and take a long, slow deep breath in through the nose, sending the breath deep down into the belly. Exhale as slowly as possible. Repeat as many times as it takes to settle the mind and any unwanted feelings. It can help to focus your attention on counting to a certain number on your inhale, maybe 4, 5 or 6, and then counting to the same number on your exhale.
This will bring you back to the present, to the here and now.
Legs Up The Wall
After a long day of being on your feet, this is an excellent pose to help with circulation. It helps release fatigue in the feet and legs, prevents edema, and soothes the nervous system by allowing your body to shift its attention from warding off stress to daily bodily functions, such as detoxification. This pose is also great for calming the mind, relieving anxiety and mild depression.
If this seems uncomfortable to you, or out of your range of motion, try placing a pillow under your head or try using a chair to support your legs from your bent knees.
Sit in front of a wall with your right hip and shoulder touching the wall. Bend your knees and roll onto your left side, so your feet and seat are touching the wall. Roll onto your back and extend your legs so that they rest on the wall. Either rest your hands on your belly or let your arms lie on the floor, palms up. Stay for at least 10-15 deep breaths. Alternatively, you can sit on a folded blanket to gently lift your hips off the floor.
As the saying goes, Laughter is the best medicine, and when it comes to calming anxiety, this is very true. If you have someone/something nearby that will make you laugh, that would be great but if not, JUST LAUGH! Take a nice deep breath in and allow yourself to laugh on the exhale. If laughter doesn’t come naturally, make a HOHOHO sound or a HAHAHA and be sure to smile. Forget about the science behind how laughter affects the mind and the body, and just do it. Even if it’s the pure silliness of laughing at nothing that lifts your spirits, that doesn’t matter. The result will be the same. You’ve boosted your mood and allowed this to calm your anxiety.