How Pilates reduces COVID-19 stress
Our country is being ravaged by an incredibly contagious and sometimes deadly virus, while at the same time we’re in a period of cultural, political, and economic volatility. People are feeling out of control, unable to do what all humans are biologically driven to do: protect themselves and their loved ones. Americans are feeling the impact both physically and emotionally from the pandemic.
Experts call the mental anguish that COVID-19 is leaving in its wake, the “underlying crisis.” A recent survey conducted by the Census Bureau, to which 42,000 people responded, 24% reported experiencing symptoms of major depressive disorder and 30% experienced generalized anxiety disorder. That’s double the numbers in a similar study conducted in 2014.
The danger of chronic stress
Life is full of speed bumps. A big deadline at work, a fight with your partner, or financial issues are all examples of common stressors that can crop up and leave you feeling the pressure. But all of these things are generally short term, and you have a say over when/how they get resolved.
However, we are completely powerless against the coronavirus pandemic and have no idea of when we may get back to living normally again. The result is chronic stress — pressure that is persistent and long term. Chronic stress can wreak havoc on physical health as well as mental well-being.
Some of the symptoms that can be caused by chronic stress include migraine headaches, back pain, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, increased cholesterol level, lowered immune response, weight gain, digestive distress, and more. Disturbingly, stress has even been linked to the killing of brain cells and reducing the size of the brain, particularly in the area of learning and memory.
Pilates for the body and the mind
Needless to say, for our very survival we all must be looking for ways to combat the stress we’re feeling as we navigate this pandemic. Incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine is one of the best ways to limit the impact of stress on your body. Even better, pick an exercise plan like Pilates that also includes the benefits of putting the brain to work.
One of the major principles of Pilates is coordinating the inhale and exhale with each movement. Focusing on your breath is a powerful way to quiet the mind, pushing worries to the side. And, unlike repetitive exercises like running or cycling, Pilates involves a constantly changing set of movements that recruits the mind, helping to improve memory and mental agility as well.
Whether you can meet with a teacher, get into a studio, or simply practice mat Pilates at home, it provides tremendous benefits during this highly stressful time. After each session, your body will feel stronger and more limber, and your mind will feel relaxed.