According to the American Psychological Association, Americans are more stressed than ever. While there are many causes, APA's annual survey identified the constant use of technology as a stress trigger. On the whole, Americans are increasing their stress levels by constantly checking their phones, email accounts and social media profiles, rating their stress levels as 6 out of 10, on a 10-point scale. Changes in the political climate and the economy have not helped matters. Without any relaxing techniques, stress can cause negative health side effects.
How stress harms the body
These constant stressors can wreak havoc on the body and the mind. Prevention Magazine noted that chronic stress can lead to teeth grinding - which contributes to an aching jaw - as well as back pain from tightened muscles and even gastrointestinal complications. If left untreated, chronic stress can lead to significant health problems, including chest pains or anxiety. To mitigate these negative side effects, medical professionals advise incorporating stress-reducing activities, like exercise, into one's lifestyle.
Exercise reduces stress in a number of ways. And a new study takes a closer look at how yoga can even reverse the negative effects of stress on the body.
Take a deep breath and reduce stress levels
Coventry University studied this phenomenon and found that when individuals are stressed, they release nuclear factor kappa B - a molecule that, in turn, can trigger inflammation in the body's cells.
However, after reviewing 18 studies that occurred over 11 years and monitored nearly 850 participants, researchers found that incorporating meditation and yoga - both known as mind-body interventions - can affect NF-KB expressions. They found that individuals who added MBI's to their daily life saw a decrease in NF-KB gene expression. Cells did not show signs of inflammation.
"Millions of people around the world already enjoy the health benefits of mind-body interventions like yoga or meditation, but what they perhaps don't realise [sic] is that these benefits begin at a molecular level and can change the way our genetic code goes about its business," said Ivana Buric, one of the lead investigators of the study.
The results are promising for individuals looking to manage their stress and anxiety without resorting to medication. The researchers noted that additional studies are needed to better understand these effects.