More and more people are switching to yoga, meditation, and other alternative practices to fight stress. Commonly referred to as the health epidemic of the 21st century, stress affects every system in your body. It weakens immune function, promotes weight gain, and impacts mental health. In the long run, it can increase the risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
Mind-body therapies (MBTs) have emerged as a safe, natural solution to counteract the harmful effects of stress. Furthermore, they have been shown to help in pain relieve and help those struggling with cardiovascular disease, fibromyalgia, depression, and anxiety. Their healing power is confirmed by different studies.
What Are Mind-Body Therapies?
Over the past few years, the psychological and health-restorative benefits of mind-body therapies have been subject to extensive research. Not that many people are familiar with these practices as an integrated form of low cost self-help. But if you care about the way you cope with daily stress, Yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi and daily meditation, might just be the thing for you. All of these practices fall under the MBT umbrella.
Mind-body therapies promote health and wellbeing. With regular practice, they trigger positive changes in the brain, leading to stress relief and enhanced mental function.
According to science, MBTs can positively influence certain brain areas, such as the somatosensory cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala. This increases your resilience to stress as well as your pain threshold. Since these brain areas regulate metabolism, hormone production, mood, and behavior, MBTs benefit both your mind and body.
A recent study has found that yoga and other meditative practices can dramatically lower stress levels, stimulate the immune cells, and positively affect gene expression. These disciplines appeal to people of all ages, from children and teens to seniors. They appear to be particularly beneficial to those who are constantly stressed or dealing with health conditions like pre-diabetes, hyperlipidemia, high blood pressure, and depression.
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Researchers have also found that MBTs reduce the levels of C-reactive protein, leading to a stronger immune system. This also helps prevent and decrease inflammation, which further improves your health. Their ability to lower stress levels should be reason enough to include them in your daily routine.
Different people exercise for different reasons. Some do it to lose weight and keep it off. Some are looking to build lean mass or achieve better physical performance. Others want to enjoy better health. Only a few think of exercise as a way to feed the brain and find peace of mind.
Yoga and meditation may not be a priority for you right now. Knowing these practices can boost your health on every level might change your mind. They not only ward off stress but also lift your mood and increase your energy levels. You’ll focus better at work or in the gym, enjoy a deeper sleep, and find it easier to maintain your weight and eat mindfully.
Plus, there are dozens of options to choose from. Yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, and controlled breathing exercises are just a few examples. Why not start with 10 minutes of meditation each day? Or keep your workouts varied by incorporating tai chi and asanas into your program.
For instance, you can do yoga or breathing exercises on your off training days. Try progressive muscle relaxation before bedtime to get a more restful sleep. Experiment with different techniques until you find one that works best for you.
Look beyond the physical benefits of exercise. Your mind needs a break from stress too!