Coping with anxiety and depression


Pandemics can be stressful*, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. However, these actions are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Coping with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.


Yoga and Meditation

One way to cope with anxiety and depression during COVID-19 is through practicing yoga. Most people know Yoga to improve flexibility, balance, endurance and physical strength. However, studies show that yoga can help with stress, anxiety, and depression. Traditional Yoga incorporates both meditation and controlled, physical movements. The focus on deep breathing and stretching is effective for relieving the symptoms of depression, such as sleep troubles, pain, and loss of energy. While meditation helps to keep the mind sharp and clear, relieves stress and improves overall well-being. With studios closed due to COVID-19 mandates, if you want to practice Yoga every day, there are instructional videos available online, livestream classes and apps.


Highlights

Dr. Mason Turner of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Group says yoga “can be very powerful in the treatment of depression.” Even if yoga isn’t your forte, the combination of meditation and physical movement provide two important elements for relieving depression. Meditation helps bring a person into the present moment and allows them to clear their minds. Controlled, focused movements also help strengthen the body-mind connection. Breathing exercises are effective in reducing depressive symptoms, according to one study. You may find yoga helpful as the exercise focuses on deep, controlled breathing.


Studies have been conducted using randomized controlled trials to look at the relationship between yoga and depression. According to the Harvard Mental Health Letter**, studies suggest that yoga can:

  • reduce the impact of stress

  • help with anxiety and depression

  • be a self-soothing technique

  • improve energy


Improve mood and relaxation

Yoga is a natural way to increase serotonin production. According to the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, serotonin production plays a role in the treatment of depression. Serotonin is believed to play a major role in happiness. Yoga is also especially helpful because of its gentle, calming, and fluid nature. Each pose is flexible, so people of all levels can practice. Emphasis on breathing, concentration, and smooth movement will encourage people to focus on positive images to calm the body and mind.


Stress and anxiety

One study, according to Harvard Mental Health, found that people who were more stressed had a lower pain tolerance. Yoga increases heart rate variability (HRV), or change in time between heart beats, by increasing the relaxation response over the stress response in the body. A high HRV means body is better at self-monitoring or adapting, particularly to stress.


References:

*https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html

**https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression

https://lookinside.kaiserpermanente.org/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression/

Disclaimer:

Yoga complements traditional therapies, such as medication and psychotherapy. Yoga is not meant to be a sole treatment. Yoga Is generally safe when practiced properly. Yoga can be challenging for beginners and people with limited flexibility, uncomfortable, depending on the pose

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