A Guide To Caring For Your Mental Health Through Yoga and Relaxation
It’s estimated that 1 in 4 people experienced some type of mental health problem per year here in the UK. And, 1 in 6 people experience a common mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression, every single week. These statistics are concerning and, with more and more us turning to medicinal needs to find a solution, the importance of an understanding of holistic solutions is also increasing. Activities such as yoga and meditation have been shown to effectively help us manage feelings of stress and worry, making them some of the most vital techniques to learn in this modern age. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the ways in which you can incorporate these into your everyday life to begin caring more effectively for your own mental health.
A Greater Awareness of the Importance of Mental Health
In recent years, society has opened up to the understanding that mental health isn’t just a term coined for the few. We all have a role to play in the management of extreme stress and worry. For many years, working culture promoted the idea of ‘hustle’ - a fast-paced environment that thrives off of working excessively long hours to achieve a goal, despite its impact on our own health. We were taught that, in order to reach a pinnacle in life, we needed to stay consistently switched on and driven. Holidays, rest days, slowing down - it just wasn’t acceptable and instead was stigmatized as laziness. Co-founder of Paypal, Elon Musk, declared that 80-hour weeks were the best way to achieve optimal productivity - a structure entirely unachievable by most.
In turn, this has created what has now become known as the ‘burnout generation’. A hoard of individuals who threw themselves into the hustle-and-bustle and eventually ran out of resources. There was no longer energy and drive left over to work overtime hours. Our physical health began to suffer as a result. High cortisol levels in the body increase the risk of anxiety, panic attacks, high blood pressure and more. With greater awareness of how this progressively active lifestyle can impact us in the long run, we are now turning to solutions to help reduce the impact on our mental health.
Prioritising Mental Health in This Busy World
So, how do we begin to take control and focus on our mental health? Before turning to medication, holistic practices provide us with non-intrusive ways to alleviate stress, reduce anxiety and improve our overall feelings every single day.
A practice previously used for decades, the popularity of yoga has soared in recent years. In 2019, it was predicted that some 500,000 people practice yoga weekly in the UK and as many as 3 million people have tried it during their lifetimes. This slow and focused practice allows us to gain a clearer understanding of the nature of our minds. By being quiet and focusing on structured movements in the body, we learn more about where our emotions sit and how these impact us every second of the day. Yoga isn’t just about strengthening our body. It is a means to gaining space, time and grounding ourselves emotionally and physically. Stepping into a practice allow us to:
- Calm our sympathetic nervous system (fight-and-flight), making it easier to step into a relaxed state after periods of extreme stress.
- Promote feelings of self-worth by carving out chunks of quiet, focus and relaxation in our days.
- Gain a greater understanding of the qualities in ourselves that we weren’t aware were impacting our lives.
- Bring more oxygen into our bodies, helping reduce blood pressure and control the production of cortisol in the body.
The right environment promotes the best results from yoga. Finding a quiet, uncluttered and relaxing space to step into your practice outlines feelings of calm instantly. Lighting candles and infusing the room with certain scents can trigger our limbic system to evoke happy memories and feelings. Using essential oils, such as lavender and eucalyptus help us to feel connected with nature, grounding thoughts and giving us a wider understanding of our surroundings. In all of these ways, yoga provides a space where relaxation and the state of our mental health is prioritised.
How to Incorporate Mental Health Care Into Your Everyday
The most important thing you can do for your mental health is to ensure that any practice you choose fits into your day with ease. Carving time out to nourish and ground the mind is incredibly vital to good mental health. However, many daily tasks cannot be avoided. Finding a way to create your own haven of calm, no matter how much time you have, can go a long way. Here at a few tips from the YR Studio team:
- Take a quiet moment - If you only have a few moments, use this time wisely. Find a calm and quiet spot in your home where you won’t be interrupted. Sit in silence and focus on the presence. Listen to the sounds around you, feel the breath moving through your body and be grateful for this time you’ve created.
- Breath - Deep breaths help to ground our body’s stress responses. Pranayama is a yoga breathing exercise that helps to clear the physical and emotional obstacles in our bodies. By breathing in through the nostril, inhaling to full capacity, holding your breath and releasing it slowly, you’ll be actively working to reduce cortisol levels in the body.
- Get outside - Nature is one of the most powerful ways to reduce feelings of stress, anger and emotional turmoil. It reminds us of the grandeur of our world, calls us to pay attention to finer details and helps evoke more positive emotions. Stretching in your garden or taking your practice outside can see significant benefits over time.
At YR Studio, we strongly believe in the benefits of yoga and relaxation for the management of good mental health. Our natural soy-wax candles accompany your practice, infusing your surroundings with calming and relaxing scents and giving you a point of focus. For more information on how to incorporate yoga into your everyday routine, read through the other blogs on our website here today.