Yoga Helps in Fighting Stress – by Jenny Holt
Yoga Helps in Fighting Financial Stress
Every year, the Australian Psychological Society conducts its ‘Stress and well-being in Australia’ survey. The results of the 2015 survey are in and the indicators are not looking good: Australians did worse last year in terms of stress and well-being compared to 2014. Unemployed respondents reported the lowest levels of wellbeing with 35% reporting tension in their lives and 26% conveyed above normal levels of anxiety.
Sources of Stress and Its Management
The major sources of stress were: financial problems (49%), family issues (45%), health (44%), intent to maintain a healthy lifestyle (40%) and health issues of others (38%). Australians fought stress in several ways with the majority or 85% watching TV or movies. 81% chose to focus on the positive aspects of life or spend time with family/friends. The rest listened to music or turned to reading.
Yoga as an Alternative to Fighting Financial/Economic Stress
The main sources of stress can be addressed two-fold: providing alternatives to financial issues (counseling and economic opportunities) and promoting a healthier lifestyle through exercise, meditation or yoga.
Although the restorative effects of yoga and meditation are well-documented, there is little literature that exists about its practice in Australia or elsewhere. One of the first studies to document yoga in the country as a form of exercise, lifestyle or physical activity was the research done by Penman, Stevens, Cohen & Jackson in 2012. Respondents started with yoga to enhance flexibility and muscle tone and continued doing it to reduce stress and anxiety. Even those who used it in the beginning for health or medical reasons turned to yoga for stress management and to alleviate anxiety levels.
It concluded that yoga is a therapeutic activity that helped in the management of health issues. By practicing yoga regularly, it promotes a healthy lifestyle, assists in smoke cessation and reduced alcohol intake. With increased levels of physical activity, stress is reduced.
Depression which is a common offshoot of financial worries is a crippling mental condition that can cost a lot of money due to intensive and time-consuming therapy and medications. Yoga can help in increasing the levels of amino acid GABA in the brain for the proper functioning of the brain, nervous system and the general well-being.
A 2013 study by the Massachusetts General Hospital revealed that the deep physiological state of rest induced by yoga produced immediate effects such as insulin secretion. Insulin not only regulates blood sugar but also produces serotonin, a feel good neurotransmitter that can combat depression.
Therefore, regular practice of yoga can have a multiplier effect. It might reduce the burden of health costs to society as well as result to physical and mental benefits.
written by Jenny Holt