Using Meditation and Yoga to De-Stress and Combat Anxiety
When imagining ways to reduce anxiety in day to day life, yoga and meditation immediately come to mind. It has long been known that these two practices have proven benefits that ease anxiety-related symptoms in patients. But how exactly do these two methods help individuals with anxiety?
While anxiety is a mental health disorder, many symptoms can affect the body as well as the mind. In fact, anxiety or panic attacks are often associated with negative thoughts and decreased physical wellbeing. For some people, this can be associated with muscle tenseness and stiff joints, while for others, it may simply present itself as vague unease.
Yoga, derived from the Sanskrit word yuj, meaning “to unite,” is believed to have originated in India over 5,000 years ago. It is said to unify the mind, body, and spirit through movement. Yoga is a form of physical activity focusing on breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, and visualization. Each of these techniques has been known to help combat panic attacks in anxiety patients. Many yoga poses, known as asanas, can help release built-up muscle tension and feelings of worry and fear. Practicing yoga can evoke feelings of complete relaxation, which is crucial to de-stress.
Similarly, meditation can help to ease anxious thoughts. Many anxiety patients frequently experience an “overactive brain,” and can experience an onslaught of often pessimistic thoughts. Meditation, however, does not aim to instantly drain these negative thoughts from existence. Instead, meditation can help one focus on something we don’t often pay much attention to: the now. Meditation uses breathing and breath techniques as a focal point of this exercise. By breathing in tune with oneself in the present, the focus shifts from anxious emotions about the past or future to the quiet peace of the current moment. This, in turn, can give an individual a new perspective on the stressors in their life, and help them regain control of their mind.