Mental Health Amidst the Pandemic
We are facing difficult times as coronavirus is changing what we define as normal. Unrest, anxiety, uncertainty, and panic has struck every corner of the earth. In our quest to contain the spread of the virus, world leaders have changed the landscape of our daily lives. How do we cope with coronavirus anxiety? How much does our current situation affect our mental health?
While we are all trying our best to remain physically healthy to distance ourselves from the virus, our predicament has implications to our mental health. The tranquility of repetition in the lives that we were used to is close to non-existence. All of a sudden we need to find security in daily routines that our bodies are not familiar with.
Majority of us rarely wore facemasks in our lives. For extroverts, socializing outside of the house is a way of life. Career people find comfort in front of their sleek office tables. Students look forward to meeting friends in the classroom.
Although in areas where lockdowns have been eased, movement is limited. For all of us, there is a looming fear that the air we breathe might carry that dreaded virus.
All these things affect our mental well-being. Which is why it is imperative that we stay mentally fit. One of the best ways to keep our minds healthy while staying at the comforts of our home is yoga. How does it help us?
A lot of studies have established the positive effects of yoga to mental health. It has been widely used as an intervention in treatments for depression, sleeping disorders, stress, anxiety, autoimmune disorders, and a lot more. As it was widely used in the olden days, it found its way to our modern and has been validated by various scientific and medical communities.
Yes, there are other exercises that improve mental fitness. But what sets yoga apart? Yoga postures called Asana have psychophysiological effects that bring about stability in health for both mind and body. Through intra-abdominal and intra-thoracic pressure-volume changes, internal organs and systems are affected which in turn bring changes to metabolism, breathing, ventilatory responses, and oxygen consumption. These changes positively affect mental well-being as bodily processes improve. Yoga does not just help the body get healthier, it also helps bring about a sound mind.
Through yoga, we reach a state of concentration and self-awareness. Deep breathing techniques relaxes our inner self and helps us overcome emotions that usually dominate us. With this, we avoid mental stresses that bring about a bandwagon of other deterrents to our mind. Stress increases the levels of cortisol production, the fight or flight hormone. Cortisol have immunosuppressive, metabolic, and anti-inflammatory functions. We do not want too much of that.
We gain more control over our minds, which greatly reduce anxiety, by practicing yoga. Through meditation, exercise, and poses, we become not just physical stronger, but stronger in a more wholistic sense.
Practicing yoga, amidst the pandemic, does not mean you should do it alone. There are a lot of yogis and yoginis who can help you understand more about this ancient way of life. During these times, being in a community that can help you feel safe matters.