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A little yoga beats a lot of stress

Pic_1.jpgDeadlines, bottom lines, budget cuts and creative ruts: stress in the workplace is a modern-day inevitability familiar to us all. Office life is faster, longer, harder and more demanding than ever before - and invariably, the loser in all of this is our health, wellbeing and peace of mind. Signs of chronic stress can be physical (fatigue, headaches, perspiration, insomnia, frequent illness), psychosocial (irritability, mood swings, apathy, depression, slowed thinking or racing thoughts) and behavioral (impatience, quickness to argue, increased use of alcohol/drugs, poor job performance), all of which can lead to more serious problems.

Here at Landmark Group we have our fair share of workplace stress; it's unavoidable. Thankfully, our holistic health experts at Balance 360 tell us there are sustainable alternatives to managing it, and one of the top things they recommend is yoga.

Yoga is an effective method of reducing stress, decreasing anxiety and improving physical health. It also helps to improve concentration and allows us to cope better with the demands of our daily lives, giving us a better perspective on personal and professional issues. A regular yoga practice boosts immunity and energy levels, reduces the likelihood of need for sick leave and makes us calmer, healthier, more positive and more productive.

Sounds fantastic, right? But putting theory into practice is usually the tricky bit, so here are some practical tips on how to incorporate yoga into your everyday life.

  • Just 60 minutes a week is enough. You don't have to change your entire lifestyle to get healthy - even one hour of yoga a week has been shown to be effective in managing stress, fatigue and chronic illness. It's okay to start small, but start.

  • Get a yoga buddy. Sign up for a class with a friend or colleague from work - it's more fun to do it together, and you're less likely to skip class.

  • Find a class close to work or home. That way, traffic, travel time and inconvenience are less viable excuses to not go to class.

  • Take yoga 'micro-breaks' at work. Ask your instructor for simple yoga exercises you can do on your own, and take mini-breaks from your computer or in between meetings to do them.

  • Ask about employee wellness programmes at your workplace. Fi_VE_8875.JPGnd out whether your company has a link with a local gym or wellness centre that offers yoga classes.

  • 'Trade up' activities. Don't think of yoga as 'yet another activity' to add to your already-packed schedule. Substitute part of an existing activity you can do less of (e.g. watching TV, poking friends on Facebook) with something you'd like more of (e.g. yoga).

  • Get your family involved. If your days off are reserved for time with your family, why not sign up for a yoga class together? Look for child-friendly yoga classes if you have kids - it's a productive way to spend time together and encourage preventive-health habits in your kids.

  • Shop around for a yoga class you enjoy. You're more likely to stick with a yoga class that's enjoyable. Instructors and class styles vary - try out a few and you're sure to find something that's fun for you.

Whichever way you do it, make yoga a regular part of your week. It's a great way to reduce stress levels, both in the office and outside of it.