As a stress relief exercise system, the effects on body and mind from doing tai chi are uniquely suited to defusing stress. As a therapeutic exercise system, modern research have shown that tai chi exercise relieves stress.
Stress! Just the word alone is enough to raise the heart rate. Most of us experience stress in our daily lives, leaving us feeling on edge, irritable, exhausted, lethargic, manic, unable to concentrate, emotional, or just prone to every cough and sniffle around.
If the effects of stress are so bad, why do our bodies react this way? How does stress affect health? Is there an effective stress relief exercise for this?
Effects of Stress on the Body
On its own, stress can be healthy. A source of productivity, even. Stress is our bodies (normally healthy!) response to a challenging situation. A 4WD vehicle swaps from two wheel drive into all wheel drive when driving off-road through slippery mud, or over rough terrain. This forces the engine to work harder, but it makes the tough driving conditions manageable. Likewise, when our bodies are feeling pressured, they react by releasing adrenaline and other hormones. These increase our heart rate, raise our alertness, make us faster to react to our environment. Our bodies are working harder, but we are better able to deal with a tricky situation.
The problem comes when we go into a high stress mode over something we have no control over, or if it persists too long. If we are powerless, our body is in fight-or-flight mode … with nothing to react to. If the stressful situation goes on too long, we use up our body’s resources, leaving us worn out. To follow the car analogy, our engine overheats and we break down.
Over time, as we recover from each major stress incident, our ability to cope with future stress is diminished, unless we repair our resilience in between. Then the stress and all its uncomfortable side effects becomes chronic.
Enough doom and gloom! We all know what stress and anxiety feels like, and have most likely experienced a touch (or a lot) of depression as a result. So how do we turn things around? We can’t get rid of difficult events in our life, we just want to train our bodies to handle them more effectively. We want to:
- build resilience so we are better able to cope with future stressors
- calm the stress reaction down, so we only react to truly challenging situations, and in the right amounts
- reduce our anxiety levels, so we are less likely to trigger a stress reaction.
This is where Tai Chi comes in. The effects on the body and mind from learning Tai Chi are uniquely suited to defusing stress. As a therapeutic exercise system, modern research have shown that Tai Chi exercise relieves stress.
Two Special Stress Relief Exercises
1. Do Tai Chi at Home
Performing a Tai Chi routine demands your complete attention. There’s always so much to remember, about where to place your body, the intention of a given move… not to mention breathing. There’s no room for external thoughts. Your brain is given a holiday from all the external worries and irritants of normal life. This gives you enough time that when you leave class, you’ve gained some valuable distance from your problems, and much needed perspective.
Tai Chi encourages you to breathe deeply. This is vital for replenishing oxygen supplies around the body. When we get stressed, we tend to breathe shallowly, our shoulders tense and rise up. Without noticing it, going through a routine will ease all those tensions.
A session of Tai Chi reunites the brain with the body. Our stress occupies our thoughts, and our bodies are often neglected as a result. Less sleep, both in quantity and quality. Poor diet choices (comfort food, anyone?!). Poor posture (slumping on the couch at the end of the day) which causes muscle aches. Silently, our bodies bear the brunt of the stress, muscles tightening up across shoulder, neck and back. Tai Chi puts our mind back in touch with our body, reminding us that one can’t operate without the other. When we are experiencing anxiety, we need to take better care of our body, not ignore it.
Our resilience is rebuilt through the achievements Tai Chi provides. Whether it’s learning a new routine, improving your balance on a kick, or just getting a little lower; these all help to remind us that we are capable of improvement. That we can overcome obstacles. Every success, whether small or large, builds our resilience.
2. Dao Yin Chi Kung Healing Exercises at Home
Read more about this tai chi dao yin qi gong healing exercises, which includes special breathing and vital pressure points techniques.
More detailed information is available on the product page, the link is: instructional workbook and DVD to do at home.
Alternatively you can buy a copy by Clicking on the Books and DVDs link above to go to our secured website, and then just scroll down to the item.