My wife has been asking me to take a yoga class with her almost since the day we got married. She was doing yoga, feeling good, and looking great. But there was no way I was going to yoga class. I was a football and track coach, after all. I was supposed to be lifting weights and running and doing plyometrics—basically beating up my body daily. I was only concerned with exercising my way.
We all know that exercise is one of the best ways to stay healthy and reduce stress. When I was first married, I was healthy, strong, and in pretty good shape. I was doing what we are told by doctors is essential to maintaining a good quality of life. Fast forward 10 years, and I am now 45 years old. I am feeling the effects of weight lifting and running. My body doesn’t feel quite as good as it used to feel.
This past summer, friends of ours invited us to a new yoga studio where their friend was teaching. They assured me that it would be easy and relaxing. Now that I’m a little older and not feeling like high-impact exercise is a great idea anymore, I agreed to try yoga. I decided that I was going to take it seriously and really focus on doing what the instructor was teaching.
After 1 hour of yoga, I was hooked. I could not believe how good I felt. In just one session, I shed an enormous amount of stress. I knew that I had to go back the next week to see whether I could replicate this feeling. Sure enough, I did. My wife and I continued to go for the next couple of weeks before we went on vacation.
While on vacation with family, I noticed my sister and brother-in-law doing yoga in front of the TV. Being a novice student of yoga, I asked them about good instructors on YouTube, and they gave me their recommendations. Upon returning from vacation, I began daily yoga sessions in my living room. The results were amazing. I lost weight, I started to see muscle tone, I felt strong; but, most importantly, I just felt free of stress.
The 2021–2022 school year started differently than past years. I didn’t have my usual anxiety about the start of the school year. I felt energized and excited to see the students. Each day after school, I would come right home and spend 20 minutes in front of the TV doing a variety of yoga sessions. Doing yoga changed my life. Those 20 minutes after work helped me decompress and compartmentalize the day. Furthermore, I was able to enjoy my evenings. All the stress from the school day had been handled by yoga, so I was free to enjoy my time at home after work.
Some say that stress is the Black Plague of the 21st century. Others claim that the potential deaths from stress-related health issues may exceed those of the Bubonic Plague of the Middle Ages. These are just opinions, of course, but science is showing the negative effects of stress on our individual health. Personally, I would rather not take the chance, so I have been searching for more and better ways to reduce my stress.
Your task this week: Find a way to manage your stress (without drinking alcohol). If you are self-conscious and don’t want to go to an in-person session, explore the thousands of yoga videos on YouTube. Try taking 30 minutes a day right after work to manage your stress. I think you will find that your personal and professional life improves. These are just a few of the things I have done to manage my stress:
- Fun, but doesn’t address the root problem of stress. I would not recommend this as a stress reliever. That’s not to say that you can’t combine a drink with other stress management techniques. But don’t rely on alcohol to solve your problems.
- Practice yoga.
- Take a walk.
- Play with a pet.
- Listen to music.
- Work on a puzzle.
- I like art so my wife bought me a paint-by-number kit. The project was very satisfying, and it took my mind off whatever was bothering me. It was especially helpful to paint and listen to music at the same time.
I know it is difficult to find 30 minutes in your stressful and chaotic day. You spend all day and evening giving yourself out to everyone else. All I am asking is that you take back a minimum of 30 minutes a day for yourself. You deserve it and more!