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Stress Yoga

Yoga and resilience to workplace stress

Written by Nat Young, Clinical Hypno-Psychotherapist and Yoga and Pilates Teacher.

We can’t go far these days without seeing something in the media about wellbeing or mental health. Quite simply, it’s a hot topic on the agenda right now. You may also have seen articles about yoga and its links with wellbeing. Yoga is a lot more than just exercise, although it’s great for flexibility and strength too. With yoga’s focus on the breath and remaining in the present moment even when things gets tough, it’s also fantastic for improving your mental health. But don’t just take my word for it, it’s backed up by research!

Over the years there have been multiple research studies which have expressed concern for high levels of workplace stress and poor emotional wellbeing. One study in particular by Hartfiel et al. (2011) examined the effectiveness of yoga in enhancing emotional wellbeing and resilience to stress amongst employees working at a university. In this controlled study, 48 employees were randomly recruited and put into a ‘yoga’ group or a ‘wait list’ control group. The yoga group were offered one lunchtime yoga class per week for a period of 6 weeks. The wait-list group received nothing.

The researchers surveyed the employees of both groups at the beginning and end of the study through self-reported mood questionnaires. They found significantly improved scores in the employees who did one yoga class per week with participants reporting improvements in feelings of clear-headedness, composure, energy, self-confidence and life purpose. The researchers concluded that even after the short 6 week period, yoga was effective at enhancing emotional wellbeing and resilience to workplace stress. If this is what a 6-week programme can do, imagine the benefits to be had from regular yoga practice…

Reference:

US National Library of Medicine, 2019, The effectiveness of yoga for the improvement of wellbeing and resilience to stress in the workplace, viewed 10 Nov 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/20369218/

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Stress

Stressed? Try embracing stillness

Written by Nat Young – Yoga Teacher and Clinical Hypno-Psychotherapist.

As a yoga teacher and hypno-psychotherapist, embracing stillness is once of the things I encourage in all my classes and sessions. However, I feel these still moments are often the most difficult for people. I’ve often heard clients say that if they aren’t moving, they mustn’t be making progress. This couldn’t be further from the truth – let me tell you why…

Quite simply, the body needs downtime. Let’s look at this example of a key contributor to workplace stress: Many people in corporate workplaces believe that if they continuously work through lunch and stay late at work, they must therefore be successful and ‘going above and beyond’. It’s somewhat of a hero mentality, and many of us want to save the world! If this way of working doesn’t bother you and isn’t causing you stress, then there’s no issue but sadly this mind-set can commonly end in office burnout.

If you often find yourself in this situation and you’re feeling stressed as a result, I would encourage you to at least consider taking a break to be ‘still’ for a few minutes throughout the day. Better still, try leaving work on time and make staying late the exception rather than the rule. Work is unfortunately one of those tasks that is never finished and there will always be something else to do. An important way to overcome this type of stress is to get yourself feeling comfortable with not finishing something.

‘Stillness’ gives you time to reflect and absorb the goings on in the world. Without this time, we’re constantly living in a world where we’re flying by the seat of our pants with no time to think. That’s certainly not good news for our stress levels or our wellbeing. How could you embrace more stillness in your everyday life?

Listen to our stress-busting mini meditation

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Hypnotherapy Stress

An agent for change

Written by Nat Young – Yoga Teacher and Clinical Hypno-Psychotherapist.

I have what you would call a ‘portfolio career’. I obviously run Aurora, teaching yoga and providing therapy but clients often don’t realise that I also have an employed job as a Project Manager. (If you work for a corporate and you’ve stumbled upon the Aurora site in search of help for work-based stress, I very much understand what you may be going through!)

Anyway, a couple of months ago I had some personal therapy as I was struggling to make sense of why I was handling stress the way I was. A lot of people don’t realise that therapists themselves can benefit from personal therapy. Indeed, while we are building up client hours in our first five years of practice, personal therapy hours are mandatory for therapists who want to register with UKCP. The purpose of personal therapy isn’t so that we’re ‘mentally sorted’ so we can see clients (that’s not possible as life changes and people can always benefit from therapy from time to time) but sometimes people (including therapists!) just need a qualified person with an outside perspective to help them work through life’s struggles. As well as working through our own personal process, personal therapy hours also benefit therapists by allowing them to experience the therapeutic process through the eyes of a client. I think this is invaluable insight and something that can only improve a therapist’s client work.

Anyway, aside from all of this, one of the key realisations I made during my recent personal therapy is that I’m naturally attracted to change in my work life. I’ve been running Aurora for four years but I’ve worked as a Project Manager for more years than I care to remember. Project Managers manage change in a controlled way, whether those changes are to do with people, technology, business processes or other physical artefacts such as buildings or infrastructure. I’ve always thought that comparing my job as a yoga teacher and therapist with my Project Manager job was a bit like comparing chalk and cheese. However, these roles really aren’t that dissimilar. Let me explain…

A therapist’s primary role is to be a ‘change agent’; helping others to manage their own personal change process so that they feel better and achieve their potential. A yoga teacher’s role is to help others to change themselves physically or to show students how to be at peace with the ebbs and flows of life. Can you see the similarities between these goals and my role as a Project Manager? Therapy and yoga are still involved with change, albeit in a wellbeing-related context.

For me, this realisation was incredibly powerful and although it took a lot of work on my part to explore my stress triggers and experiences of work, this realisation has been truly life-changing as my work life now makes more sense and I understand how I’ve ended up with this particular combination of roles in my work life. Even better, it’s not so ‘chalk and cheese’ after all.

As humans, we’re seekers of meaning and without meaning we can all feel a bit lost. If you would like some help to find meaning in your life, I could help you do just that. Whether you’re struggling with a work-based problem or something else, I could be the ‘change agent’ you need to get started. Get in touch here.

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Hypno-Yoga Hypnotherapy Stress

Hypnotherapy for stress: 4 ways to overcome stress at work

Written by Nat Young – Yoga Teacher and Clinical Hypno-Psychotherapist.

Stress can be a killer and our modern lifestyle often results in a build-up of it. We all have times when we’re fortunate enough to have time for a walk in the fresh air, a trip to the gym, or even a holiday, but for many, days go by without slowing down enough to reset our bodies. Sometimes it may even be hard to remember what it feels like to feel calm.

For many people, the workplace is a big contributor towards stress and some also turn to alcohol or food to cope. While this may offer some temporary respite, it can lead to anxiety, depression and even addiction over time.

Healthy ways of dealing with stress usually involve getting more exercise, eating more healthily, and getting enough sleep. However, workplace stress often needs to be dealt with there and then. As you can’t always go for a run or have a sleep at work, here are four stress-busting things you can do at your desk to help overcome stress at work.

Deep breathing

It sounds cliched, but we often forget to breathe deeply. Your mind, body, and breath are connected, and breathing regulates your nervous system. When you don’t breathe deeply enough, stress signals are sent to your brain and thinking stressful thoughts or feeling stress triggers the body’s ancient fight-or-flight response. A by-product of the fight-or-flight response is shallow, rapid breathing. It’s important to notice your breathing throughout your day as this will help prevent the stress response.

Try it: Take a deep breath. Fill up the lungs with air, feeling almost as if the air is in your stomach. Do this at least three times and notice how you feel.

Listen to music

When we get a minute, many of us read or watch the news. A side-effect of this is that we hear about all the negative things happening in the world. This can often wreak havok with our ability to think positively. When this happens, our stress levels can climb even higher, so it’s important to try and break this pattern. One of the ways to do this is by listening to music. Music can help shift your mood and therefore reduce your stress levels.

Try it: Take a music break! Plug in your headphones and listen to any music you find soothing.

Make a phone call

Connecting with those we are close to can be a great way to calm the nervous system. We are wired for interaction. Thinking about young babies – a carer’s presence, touch, and voice are often all that are needed to calm a crying baby. Adults can get the same effect from a close friend or partner.

Try it: Take a break and call someone you feel calm around. A quick hello and a chat can refocus your mind and help to banish stress. If you’re not able to make a phone call, talking with a co-worker can often bring about similar benefits.

Practice feeling grateful

Gratitude is good for the mind and body and it’s something we focus on in yoga a lot. Thinking about why you feel grateful rather than why you feel stressed is a great way to shift your perspective. This is simple to do and can be done anywhere, anytime. If you have trouble focusing on gratitude, try thinking about what life would be like without certain people or privileges in it.

Try it: List 3-5 things you’re grateful for and do this as often as you need to. It’s a great way to shift your mindset! You could even try writing these things on paper and putting them in a jar to open when you feel stressed.

Remember to take a break

While these ideas can help you overcome workplace stress, it’s also important to make sure you take breaks throughout your working day. Even more important, try to make late finishes the exception rather than the rule. This will help you maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle outside of work, something which is very important when it comes to overcoming stress.

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If you would like an extra helping hand, we provide Hypno Yoga and hypnotherapy for stress. Contact us to see how we can help.