Stress

Just 20 minutes a Day of Exercise for Brain Health

IMG_20180212_112129.jpg

I was always diligent about incorporating exercise in my wellness plan.  When I fractured my ankle back in November 2015, my exercise routine became very limited.  For years, my first choice for exercise has been my mini rebounder/trampoline but I could not use it with a cast so it got set aside.  The year 2016 was a challenging year due to an accident my husband had and then 2017 came with challenges that I mention in my January blog.  So now it is 2018 and thankfully the year has been going well so far.  Recently, I had some time to watch the "Protect you Brain" DVD, produced by CBN in 2017.  I learned only 20 minutes of vigorous exercise daily is all it takes to lower risk for Alzheimer's, stroke, depression and even heart disease.  

So I found myself motivated to resume a daily exercise routine using my favorite way, my mini rebounder/trampoline.  The benefits of jumping are numerous but improved immune system is one of them.  If on a tight budget, an inexpensive jump rope works well too.  Of course, you should always get clearance from your doctor before starting an exercise plan.  The benefits of exercise are documented with much research and I was excited to learn how little time it takes to reap them.  I have been back on my routine for over a week and I can definitely feel a difference in my mood, ability to focus and even lower readings on my blood pressure.

Also worthy to mention is that the University of Alabama at Birmingham did a study on the effects of exercise on depressive symptoms.  The study website link is no longer active but in the past, I wrote a blog on exercise and depression so I am aware that the conclusion of the study was that exercise reduces depressive symptoms in patients with a chronic illness.  The results of the study were that exercise does not just mildly reduce the symptoms but it SIGNIFICANTLY reduces depressive symptoms.  The study reported that exercise training produced the greatest antidepressant effects in patients with mild to moderate depressive symptoms.  Exercise is so important for mental health.  Now learning that the benefits for brain health only takes 20 minutes a day of exercise with the intensity that you break a sweat but are still able to hold a conversation, I believe it is much easier to achieve. 

I know first hand how over the years, exercise helps me in maintaining my health both physically and mentally.  Unfortunately the challenges I faced in recent years made it hard to stick to my routine.  Thankfully, I have a renewed motivation to resume my exercise routine.  I have been reaping the benefits of yoga since April of last year and now I am excited that I have been able to resume my first-love of jumping :)

How Yoga Helps Me

 "yoga"by sippakorn

"yoga"by sippakorn

I was introduced to the practice of yoga in April.  I discovered first-hand that yoga not only helps exercise the body but it helps clear the mind too. 

In recent months I have had unexpected stress and yoga helped me stay focused on the present.  I found the physical movement of yoga helps clear the mind.  When I do yoga, my mind is concentrating on the movement of my body so it enables me to not think about anything else. 

Although I am a novice when it comes to yoga, the benefits are already felt.  Thankfully I have the opportunity to participate in a yoga class twice a week.  I can do more often with a DVD that I have.  My goal is to practice yoga weekly so I can continue to maintain a lower stress level.  I highly recommend the practice of yoga for anyone who is in need of stress relief.

A good resource to help you pick a yoga mat:  https://www.reviews.com/best-yoga-mat/

Time Management and Managing Stress

20150121_102316.jpg

I have been getting to practice time management and stress management techniques the past month.  Not only has it been stressful due to difficult personal family circumstances, such as grief, job loss, and less social interaction with friends, it has been stressful in managing my different roles as wife, mother, friend, advocate and now student.  Some of my friends are aware that I applied for a scholarship to go to graduate school.  Although I didn't receive the scholarship, I did get accepted into a graduate program :)

So I had the dilemma of not being able to afford tuition, etc. yet wanting to see if I could handle taking on graduate school.  As a result, I was advised to take one of the required initial courses to hold my place in the graduate program, in hopes of reapplying for the scholarship in the spring.  The initial class is just a one and a half credit class but it is only 6 weeks in length.  A fact that I failed to know when I registered.  Needless to say, I am learning that time management is even more critical now. 

I have actually been enjoying the course but incorporating it into my schedule has been more challenging.  As my stress level goes up, my cognitive functioning seems to go down.  But that is not stopping me from doing the best I can in both the class and my other responsibilities.  Of course the busier I get, the harder it is to incorporate stress management techniques such as exercise and my weekly walks on the beach.  I am doing my best to practice what I preach.  Thankfully, the weather is cooling off so I am motivated to get outside even if it is just to get sunshine while reading my textbook.

My class ends on October 9th so I have to stay focused on the task at hand.  I guess considering I have not been in college for over 20 years, I need to give myself credit no matter what the end result.  I will check in again after my course is over but for now I need to go practice some stress management skills :)