By Beverly Benson
BAMC RN/Health Promotion Educator Army Department of Preventive Medicine
What do you do when you’re faced with a challenge? What if it involves something you’re deathly afraid of? What if you might fail?
Sometimes, when we look at a challenge we think: “There’s no way I can climb that. I’m too afraid (or too weak, or too “whatever”), I can’t, I won’t be able to, I’ll never.” And on we go, convincing ourselves of all the reasons why we shouldn’t even try. So we walk away without ever discovering just how strong we really are.
By Beverly Benson BAMC RN/Health Promotion Educator Army Department of Preventive Medicine
I’ve heard it said many times, “Yoga? Tai Chi? Isn’t that a bunch of hocus pocus, weird meditation mumbo-jumbo?”The answer is a resounding NO!
While yoga originated hundreds of years ago as a Hindu discipline that teaches “the suppression of all activity of body, mind and will …” it is now, in general, considered “a system of exercises for attaining bodily or mental control and well-being.” It has been “Westernized” and can include any, or no, form of spirituality.
In general, it is a focusing of the mind inward and clearing it, and the body, of negativity and stress. There are multiple varieties of yoga from a meditation and breathing only version (Yoga Nidra) to more intense Bikram or Hot yoga. All forms of yoga focus on clearing the mind and proper breathing.
Similiarly, T’ai chi is a Chinese system of exercise, developed over 2,000 years ago, incorporating slow, smooth body movements in order to achieve a state of relaxation in mind and body. Although it was originally a self-defense martial art that has over 100 separate movements, it has been reduced in the more popular versions to 18-37 moves. Like yoga, there are also several “sub-sets” of T’ai chi, but all focus on body position, clearing of the mind, or meditation, and breathing.
Both of these practices have been shown through research to improve the body’s response to stress and cause a reduction in inflammation and pain. Since there is a focus on clearing the mind of negative thought focus and deep breathing, practicing yoga or T’ai chi on a regular basis may also help build resilience to life stressors.
There are several offerings of yoga on Fort Sam Houston and Brooke Army Medical Center. You may consider trying one of the classes, or try a class in your area or at one of the Fitness in the Park sessions (www.fitcitySA.com) around town. NAMASTE!
By Beverly Benson
BAMC RN/Health Promotion Educator
Army Public Health Nursing
Last time I told you to watch out for “Shoulder Guy” who keeps you from doing the things you know you should, like eating healthy or exercising (read blog here). He is also very good at being negative. I refer to the really negative “shoulder guy” as “the Monster.”
The Monster will hand you a sweater of guilt, remind you of something hurtful someone said in your past, tell you that you have no worth or value, that you should quit, or not even try. Shoulder guy’s job is to keep you down emotionally, physically and mentally. He is very good at his job!
Remember: Fred Astaire was told he couldn’t act or sing and he could only dance “a little.” Lucille Ball was told she was only “mediocre” and shouldn’t pursue acting. The Beatles were told “No” by their first record company and that their sound was “way out.”Walt Disney was told he “lacked imagination and had no original ideas.” Really?!
By Beverly Benson BAMC RN/Health Promotion Educator Army Public Health Nursing
Increased stress and worry often bring on insomnia, which gives ammunition to that guy on your shoulder who says: “It’s okay. Just roll over and go back to sleep. You don’t need to get up early. You’re tired. You can do it AFTER work.”
So, giving in to that lie, you hit snooze or turn off the alarm and go back to sleep.
Dragging into work, late because you hit snooze yet again, your stress level is already up from all of the stressors you worried about during the drive in. And now the stress you normally have at work has been increased due to budget cuts.
Needless to say, at the end of the day you are exhausted (cue the shoulder guy) so you say, “I’ll go home and take a short nap on the couch then I’ll go for a walk.” You wake up at 9 p.m. …”Oh, I’m tired and just going to bed. I’ll get up in the morning” The next morning is “wash, rinse, repeat” and so goes the week.
If this sounds familiar to you, here are five tips to help you get back on that train and into your healthier routine.