Saturday, December 27, 2014

Reducing Work and Life Related Stress with Yoga

Stress is #1 killer in America. According to the American Institute of Stress 80% of workers indicate they feel stress at work while 65% say that it has impacted their performance in some way or another. The average person is not always aware of the effects of stress and how it impacts their life. Mismanaged stress eventually makes its way into our psychological and physical well-being becoming a catalyst lurking behind many other ailments. Yoga and breathing is one method of managing stress and lowering health costs while still improving your abilities.

To thwart the ill effects of stress it is important to find a proper balance between work and extra-curricular activities. Each should take their appropriate place in your life with nether being unbalanced. When one becomes all consuming it can impact you in a way that lowers the quality of your life as well as spill its damaging effects into other areas like your family.

This applies across many different aspects of our lives. If you are career oriented and want to move up in your position it makes sense for you to spend additional effort working on your goals. However, focusing so exclusively that you damage your other needs can destroy your chances of achieving your career objectives and the quality of your life.

Reducing stress can help you maintain focus on your goals by reducing the impact of other stressors in your life. Consider that stress is normal but chronic stress can be fatal. Staying focused relies on your ability to reduce other stressors that are not necessary and don't enhance your life in anyway. By focusing on breathing and living in the moment your muscles relax and many of your worries will temporary dissipate.

Consider the example of back pain earned through lifting equipment or sitting improperly for long periods of time. Yoga helps stifle the negative effects of pain, reduce missed work days, and improves psychological well-being (Hartfiel, et. al, 2012). The benefits for the comfort of the employee and the lost productivity time of the employer cannot be underestimated.

Stressed-out employees also cost companies billions in annual healthcare costs, absenteeism and poor performance (Williams, 2005).  Preventative medicine focuses more on encouraging healthy living that avoids future illness while standard medicine is more focused on treating illness after it occurs.Yoga is part of that preventative method that lowers the catalysts to illness.

Over the Christmas vacation I had the opportunity to attend a yoga class in the park. Not many people; a half dozen or so individuals enjoying the sun and stretching in nature. As with most yoga classes there is an instructor that guides everyone through the movements until their natural conclusion. Focus is directed on breathing to create a level of calmness and living in the present.

Yoga was something that was once practiced only by the free spirited people of the counter culture. As the decades passed and research on its benefits became available it was found that such activities do have a benefit on the lives of individuals and the costs of their employer health insurance programs. Yoga has become a mainstream activity practiced in nearly every gym and community center in the country. Finding a local practitioner to teach you can be an enhancement to your life.

The practitioner I met was from

Williams, D. (2005). Corporations Go Yogi. T&D, 59 (4).

Hartfiel, N. et. al. (2012). Yoga for reducing perceived stress and back pain at work. Oxford University Press.

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