Monday, December 9, 2019

CLASSROOM YOGA FOR KIDS MAY RELIEVE ANXIETY

Participating in yoga and mindfulness activities at school may help anxious third-graders improve their well-being and emotional health, according to a small study.



Researchers worked with a public school in New Orleans to add mindfulness and yoga to the school’s existing empathy-based programming for students needing extra support. Researchers randomly assigned third graders screened for symptoms of anxiety at the beginning of the school year to two groups. A control group of 32 students received care as usual, which included counseling and other activities led by a school social worker.
The intervention group of 20 students participated in small group yoga/mindfulness activities for eight weeks using a Yoga Ed curriculum. Students attended the small group activities at the beginning of the school day. The sessions included breathing exercises, guided relaxation, and several traditional yoga poses appropriate for children.
Researchers evaluated each group’s health-related quality of life before and after the intervention, using two widely recognized research tools. They used the Brief Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale-Peabody Treatment Progress Battery version to assess life satisfaction, and the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory to assess psychosocial conditions and emotional well-being at the beginning, middle, and end of the study.
“The intervention improved psychosocial and emotional quality of life scores for students, as compared to their peers who received standard care,” says principal author Alessandra Bazzano, associate professor of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences at Tulane University School of Public Health.
“We also heard from teachers about the benefits of using yoga in the classroom, and they reported using yoga more often each week, and throughout each day in class, following the professional development component of intervention.”
Researchers targeted third grade because it is a crucial time of transition for elementary students when academic expectations increase.
“Our initial work found that many kids expressed anxious feelings in third grade as the classroom work becomes more developmentally complex,” Bazzano says. “Even younger children are experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety, especially around test time.”
The researchers report their findings in the journal Psychology Research and Behavior Management.
Additional coauthors of the study are from Tulane and Project Peaceful Warriors. The Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking and the Center for Public Service at Tulane University funded the work.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Your Body Stores Stress In These 2 Areas

We all know that stress starts in the mind and can affect the body. When we get stressed, we tend to tense up, causing our muscles to contract and develop tension. There are two areas of the body where stress has a more serious impact than others: your traps and shoulders, and your hips. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to combat and release the tension. Here's what I recommend.


How to release stress in your traps and shoulders.

Our traps and shoulders can carry some serious stress—stress that's most commonly caused by thoughts of the future (e.g., stressing about something that hasn't happened or worrying about something that will happen). Usually, it's something that's lingering or building over time. This stress can result in headaches, poor posture, and fatigue. Also, from a physical aspect, the way we look at our phones, carry bags, or even sleep can cause tension in our traps and shoulders, which puts stress on your body overall.

Ways to combat stress in your traps and shoulders:


1. Massage
Massage is great for relieving stress, decreasing lactic acid buildup (soreness), and decrease pain.
2. Stretch
Doing slow side-to-side neck stretches and slow head circles can help. Also remember to pull your shoulders back during these. You want to have good posture while doing these.
3. Ice and heat
Alternating ice pack and a heating pad can help relax the muscles around the neck and shoulders.
How to release stress in your hips.
Finally, the hips can carry stress. It's one of the areas where most people don't realize stress resides. The hips do so much work, both directly and indirectly. By standing and sitting for too long, the hips can become tight. Mental stress can also manifest in the hips. Even more than that, tight hips can lead to back pain and minimize performance. 

Ways to combat stress in the hips:
1. Stretching
Taking the time to stretch every day—even 10 or 15 minutes—can make a huge difference in the amount of tension your muscles carry. To release tension in your hips, pay special attention to your hip flexors, quads, and hamstrings.

2. Using a foam roller
Foam rollers are one of the most undervalued pieces of fitness/recovery equipment out there. Using a roller on your hip flexors and glutes can help release any built-up tension living in your hips.

3. Leg inversion
Lastly, lying on your back with your legs up against the wall is an effective tension-releasing strategy. This allows gravity to pull the blood back to the hip and causes some relief in the legs and hips.

The takeaways
Aside from these techniques, there are things we can do in general to lower our stress and, by proxy, our muscle tension. Meditation, for example, can help relax your mind and body to release mental worry. Also, eating a healthy diet can help decrease inflammation (which goes hand-in-hand with stress) and hydrate your muscles. Lastly, integrating foam rolling and stretching into your daily routine can help relieve muscle tension, which can allow you to move well.

Author: Jason Williams, NASM-CPT
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