Reducing Stress Without Meditation

Reducing Stress Without Meditation

You don’t have to mediate or wake up at 5 am to reap the benefits of this simple thing…

 

“I just get stressed easily. That’s just me!”

Have you thought or said this? I completely get it. Sometimes feelings of stress, anxiety, anger and overwhelm feel so out of our control that you think it’s something that just happens to you.

Nothing you can do about it.

But is that really the case? In this mini blog I’ll present some new research showing that making a simple change in your home routine CAN make a difference.

This will not be about re-framing your mindset (although that does help!). This will be about a physical thing you can do (at home!), that will help you lower your levels of stress and anxiety.

(Spoiler alert… it’s yoga!)

 

My journey with stress

I’m no stranger to stress. It’s affected me just as much as the average person!

During my academic studies I felt stressed when approaching deadlines, when I’ve been late for a flight I’ve been very stressed, and when I had a baby I was often very stressed about things like feeding and sleep etc.

Life happens!

But what is overly obvious to me is this: At times when I have a regular yoga practice at home, I have a much bigger and fluffier emotional buffer pillow which lessens the intensity of my stress and anxiety response.

But! Don’t take my word for it. Here is a recent study with some interesting results…

 

Studying the ‘sweaty’ type of yoga

There has been a lot of research about yoga and stress already – with great results! (Cocciara et al,. 2019; Vale et al., 2020). However, most studies have used a traditional Hatha Yoga style which is low in physical intensity.

This new study by Phansikar et al. (2023) looked specifically at the style of yoga that I like (Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga). This is a more physically intense style which uses flowing movements called Sun Salutations. During this type of yoga you synchronise breath with movement, and strengthen and stretch almost every muscle in your body!

You might think that to lower stress, you need to be meditating, but this yoga style is more like a mindful type of exercise session.

That’s what I love about it!

 

What did the study do?

So, let’s give you a picture of what happened.

86 working-age adults were divided across a yoga group or a control group. The yoga group engaged in a 50 minute yoga session 3 times a week for 8 weeks. (This included 35 minutes of movement, and 15 minutes of relaxation). The control group went about their daily lives.

The researchers took a variety of self-reported stress and anxiety measurements, as well as cognitive tests such as reaction time and memory, both before and after the 8-week intervention.

 

All from their living rooms!

An aspect of this study that really excited me is that EVERYTHING was done remotely! Participants attended a combination of Zoom classes and followed recorded classes at home in their own time.

Many people think that to get the “proper experience” or to “do it properly”, you need to be in the physical presence of a yoga teacher.

Well, the results of this study beg to differ…

 

What did the study find?

The results of the study were clear. The yoga group significantly lowered their mental stress and anxiety, and also improved their working memory over the 8 weeks of the programme. (All compared with the control group).

That’s pretty cool!

 

No meditation needed!

What I find interesting about this is that they did not try to reduce their stress with specific mindset practices, meditations or even trying to reduce ‘stressful events’ in their lives…

They purely did 35 minutes Sun Salutations and various other moderate-intensity yoga poses 3 times a week. At home! They didn’t even have travel time or extra expenses!

I love that this is TRULY accessible and possible for the vast majority of able-bodies people.

 

How does yoga work?

“But how did simply moving and breathing for 35 minutes reduce stress and anxiety?” (I hear you ask)

Yoga brings your attention to you body and your breath as you move through the poses. This allows your focus to leave whatever is going on in your head for a little while.

This focus on your body and the sensations as you move is also called ‘mindfulness’. And such a present, mindful state is known to help regulate emotional experiences (Farb et al., 2013) and lower Cortisol (Pascoe & Bauer, 2015).

 

The take-away message

The take away is simple. You can significantly reduce your stress and anxiety by scheduling 3 sessions of yoga into your week! (More is good too… but not necessary).

This beauty is that these can be at home. Allowing you to fit the yoga practice around your unique work/family commitments.

Personally, this helps me deal with the demands of mum-life and self-employed life!

You don’t necessarily need to focus on meditating or changing your mindset to help reduce stress and anxiety (although those things would probably help too…)

Just move and breathe!

Need a little help?

If you need a little help getting started with 15-20 minutes of mindful yoga at home have a little look at my classes… 😉

Learn more about BendyLife yoga...

I hope you enjoyed this mini blog. 🤓

Please share your views in the comments below!

Jolanthe x


References

Cocchiara, R. A., Peruzzo, M., Mannocci, A., Ottolenghi, L., Villari, P., Polimeni, A., … & La Torre, G. (2019). The use of yoga to manage stress and burnout in healthcare workers: a systematic review. Journal of clinical medicine, 8(3), 284.

Farb, N. A. S., Segal, Z. V., & Anderson, A. K. (2013). Attentional modulation of primary interoceptive and exteroceptive cortices. Cerebral Cortex, 23(1), 114–126. https://doi.org/10.1093/CER- COR/BHR385 

Pascoe, M. C., & Bauer, I. E. (2015). A systematic review of ran- domised control trials on the effects of yoga on stress measures and mood. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 68, 270–282. https:// doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2015.07.013 

Phansikar, M., Gothe, N., Hernandez, R., Lara-Cinisomo, S., & Mullen, S. P. (2023). Feasibility and impact of a remote moderate-intensity yoga intervention on stress and executive functioning in working adults: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 1-12.

Valle, E.D., Palermi, S., Aloe, I., Marcantonio, R., Spera, R., Montagnani, S., & Sirico, F. (2020). Effectiveness of workplace yoga interventions to reduce perceived stress in employees: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of functional morphology and kinesiology, 5(2), 33.

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Love, Jolanthe x