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Anxiety is a huge challenge for most people after a cancer diagnosis, this, of course, is completely natural. Not only are you facing treatments that can be very harsh on your body, your mind is filled with worries about whether your cancer could be fatal. Anxiety was something that started to make my life miserable when I heard the crushing words.
‘You have cancer’
I felt on edge and agitated all the time, that dark achy feeling becoming a constant in my chest. As much as this was torturous, the way anxiety affected my sleep was having the biggest impact on me. I struggled to get to sleep at night and when I did vivid dreams would taunt me. Mornings came early, as I woke up with a start each day.
I needed to find something that would calm and focus me. My usual favourites, reading and audio books weren’t really working, I just didn’t have the concentration as my head was swimming with ‘what if’s’. Yoga came to my rescue. I had dabbled in yoga for a few years, using a pre-natal DVD before I had my daughter and sporadically attending classes and following YouTube tutorials.
“Gradually I started to see a big
difference in how I felt emotionally”
While going through chemo I was utterly exhausted and really struggling mentally. I began rolling out my mat and trying to do at least ten minutes of Yoga or meditation every day. Some days when I had more energy I would try a longer video. Gradually I started to see a big difference in how I felt emotionally. I was calmer and more grounded, yoga helped me find the headspace I needed to process my illness. Cancer had my brain in fast forward and yoga gave me a well-needed pause.
“yoga gave me a well-needed pause”
Yoga was my escape throughout treatment and well beyond. Two years on I am now taking a 200 hour Yoga teacher training course and love it more than ever. One of our first pieces of homework is to meditate every day. First thing in the morning is the best time for me before all the little jobs of the day get in the way. I am amazed how much calmer and relaxed I am, I’ve not got worked up with my kids nearly as much and going back to work has been a lot better than expected.
So here are 5 reasons why yoga can make you happier:
- In this modern world we live crazy busy lives, with technology constantly making our brains buzz, yoga gives us a chance to pause, slow down and find a little calm.
Calm = Happy.
- Sitting hunched over desks, tables and phones has our muscles stiff and aching. Yoga helps to get our bodies moving in a gentle way, increasing flexibility and strength.
- Rolling out your mat helps to reduce blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol. Research carried out by Boston University School of Medicine found that patients who had suffered from depression saw a significant improvement in symptoms when they took a yoga class twice a week and practised at home.
- Yoga teaches us to focus and control our breath. This is an excellent skill for managing stress and panic attacks.
- Meditation is central to yoga and allows us to clear our head. By learning to control our minds, we can: keep ourselves calm when life doesn’t go to plan, think more clearly and focus on what is most important to us. Our mind, like any muscle in our body, needs to be exercised to help it become strong and resilient.
I challenge you to join my ‘CHILL CHALLANGE’ (see last post) and incorporate ten minutes of Yoga or meditation into your day for a week and see if you feel happier!
Find your new favourite pair of Yoga pants over at Boudavida They even donate 5% of every sale to supporting women’s sports.