For some, the end of the year can be a stressful time, especially around the holidays. Whether you’re working on wrapping up this year’s big projects, shopping for gifts, or gearing up to spend time with loved ones, there’s a lot going on.
Stress is a natural response to this kind of overstimulation, and it can leave you feeling agitated or exhausted in a time when you need calming energy most. What we really need in those moments is to learn how to change the way we react to stress. Rather than feeling unfocused and panicked, we can condition ourselves to react calmly and respond without becoming overwhelmed.
And according to a number of studies, practicing yoga and meditation can help us develop the tools we need to change our responses to stress. In fact, in one national survey, over 85 percent of people who did yoga reported that it helped them relieve stress.
While exercise in general is helpful when it comes to stress relief, it doesn’t have the same calming effects as yoga. This is because of the mindfulness and breathing components associated with yoga that aren’t involved in other exercise. Practicing yoga “maintains activation while keeping an underlying sense of calm.” Learning to develop a sense of calm even while doing physical activity can carry into day-to-day life, even when you aren’t practicing.
So if you’re feeling particularly stressed out this time of year, try practicing yoga and meditation – even for just 10-15 minutes each day. Start with these 15 yoga poses for stress relief from our friend and Medical Advisory Board member Dr. Marlynn Wei. If you want to try meditation, either simultaneously or on its own, try our relaxation audio files, which we’re offering to our community for download, free of charge, here.