Study shows that doing yoga can help reduce anxiety

In the U.S. According to the CDC, yoga and meditation are used by around 35 million adults each.

As the global pandemic continues, health experts say it’s important to not only account for physical health, but mental health as well. The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that “the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people and communities.”

“Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children,” the CDC’s website states.

If you find yourself feeling understandably more anxious right now, a new study shows that doing yoga could helpful.

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The research, conducted by a team of researchers at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine, found that “yoga improves symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, a condition with chronic nervousness and worry, suggesting the popular practice may be helpful in treating anxiety in some people.”

“Generalized anxiety disorder is a very common condition, yet many are not willing or able to access evidence-based treatments,” Dr. Naomi M. Simon said in a statement. “Our findings demonstrate that yoga, which is safe and widely available, can improve symptoms for some people with this disorder and could be a valuable tool in an overall treatment plan.”

In the study, the researchers tracked a group of 226 people with anxiety disorder and assigned them randomly to three separate groups: cognitive behavioral therapy, yoga and stress-management education.

After three months, the researchers found that the cognitive behavioral therapy and yoga to be more effective than stress management. According to the researchers, 54% of people who practiced yoga “met response criteria for meaningfully improved symptoms compared to 33 percent in the stress-education group.”

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Additionally, the CDC recommends the following measure to look out for your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak:

  • Stay informed, but avoid over-saturating yourself with coverage of the virus
  • Take deep breaths and try to meditate
  • When you can, eat healthy foods and get regular exercise
  • Take time to unwind "and remind yourself that strong feelings fade"
  • Take breaks from consuming coverage
  • Connect with others about what you are feeling
  • Maintain healthy relationships with friends or family members
  • Try to maintain a sense of positive thinking

The CDC also has resources available about coping with a disaster or traumatic event here.

Here are some things to keep in mind about anxiety, as previously reported by the AJC:

What is anxiety?

Anxiety, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), is defined as "an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure."

How is anxiety different from anxiety disorder?

While anxiety is a normal emotional reaction to stress, anxiety disorders involve excessive fear or anxiety.

Generally, someone with anxiety disorder would have fear or anxiety that is out of proportion to the situation or inappropriate for his or her age.

The anxiety would also affect normal day-to-day function.

How many people in the U.S. have anxiety disorder?

Research from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) shows anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million American adults 18 years or older (18.1 percent) each year.

Tips to manage your anxiety and stress

The ADAA put together this helpful infographic with simple but effective tips, such as improving your eating and sleeping habits, squeezing some fitness into your day and more.