• Hayoung (Talia) Cho & Kilin Tang

Mental Health During a Pandemic (Part lV)

#MentalHealthMatters


Hotline Shortlist*:


National Suicide Prevention Hotline (NSPH): Call: 1-800-273-8255 

En Español: 1-888-628-9454 

For those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have hearing loss: Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889

Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): 1-(800)-950-6264 or text NAMI to 741741

Veterans Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, text 838255, or use the online chat feature

For those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have hearing loss: 1-800-799-4889.

Disaster Distress Helpline: Call: 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 


*More information about these hotlines can be found in a previous post.


Introduction


During this unprecedented time stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, you may feel stressed and pressured from the sudden changes occurring in your daily life. Adhering to physical distancing guidelines of staying six feet apart from our friends, co-workers, and communities has inextricably isolated ourselves from those we love and cherish, contributing to increased feelings of loneliness—a struggle that more and more Americans are facing every year. In addition, the interruption of COVID-19 has taken a toll on our economy. With 21 million Americans currently unemployed, an increasing number of low-income families are struggling to pay the bills, leading to rising levels of stress and anxiety. Finally, the grief and suffering that one may feel from losing a loved one from COVID-19 (which has killed over 125,000 Americans) only serves to escalate the current mental health crisis our nation faces.


For the next two weeks, we will focus on mental health and how it has impacted the Greater Charlotte Area. The first week will be centered around different mental health disorders, how mental health has influenced communities, and ways to access professional support. The second week will emphasize methods to increase awareness and ways to cope with stress at home. We hope that our blogs will inform the communities in the Greater Charlotte Area, among many others, about the importance of mental health and how to mitigate some of the stress interrupting our daily lives. 



BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month 


July is the official BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color) Mental Health month that was established in 2008 by Bebe Moore Campbell. During such unprecedented times, it is necessary to mention the mental health of those who have been disproportionately strained by COVID-19 and its ramifications. 


For more information, please visit the Mental Health of America’s website and check out the BIPOC resources from the Massachusetts General Hospital


The Power of Yoga


Given COVID-19 has already infected over 3.1 million Americans, the pandemic’s effects are far more widespread than currently reported. A Kaiser Family Foundation Poll finds that 56% of adults in the United States are experiencing increased stress due to the instability that COVID-19 has presented, resulting in negative effects on our mental health—such as problems sleeping or eating or increased alcohol consumption. Overall, the COVID Response Tracking Study conducted by the University of Chicago found that only 14% of Americans are “very happy,” down by 31% from just two years ago. 


Thankfully, there are methods to reduce stress and be happier from the comfort of your own home. Yoga, a practice originating from Ancient India designed to unify and cleanse the mind and body, is a powerful practice that has increasingly been shown to improve your mental and physical health. While there are various styles of yoga, the practice often combines physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation to enhance physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. 


Practicing yoga can help ground you day-to-day: individuals who practice yoga have long been known to produce low levels of cortisol, the primary hormone responsible for stress. Maintaining a consistent practice routine (every morning for 15 minutes before work, for example) will help as well. 


However, the benefits of yoga are far from just relieving stress—a study published in the National Library of Medicine found that individuals who engaged in yoga courses showed “significant decreases in self-reported symptoms of depression.” Another study corroborated that yoga resulted in a “significant reduction” in levels of anxiety disorders, concluding that yoga could be considered “a complementary therapy or an alternative method for medical therapy in the treatment of anxiety disorders.”


In fact, yoga has even reduced the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), with over half (52%) of individuals in the study no longer even meeting the criteria for the disorder after practicing for ten weeks.


Keep in mind that yoga has only been studied by western civilization in recent years; in other words, the benefits listed above may only be the tip of the iceberg. We believe there are many unknown and unreported benefits that you can only feel by engaging in the practice yourself! 


Never tried out yoga before? Check out the yoga resources posted below to get started!


Free Online Yoga Resources


1. EkhartYoga 

EkhartYoga provides free online yoga and meditation classes. 


2. DoYogaWithMe 

DoYogaWithMe teaches yoga with their beginners-advanced online video classes. Their website covers various topics such as breathing tips, videos on poses, monthly blog posts, and more. 


3. CorePower Yoga 

CorePower Yoga has 300+ classes for $19.99/month, but they also have free online classes posted every week. 


4. Yoga With Adriene

Visit Yoga With Adriene on YouTube to watch videos for beginners, for those experiencing back pain, for those wishing to have weight loss, and more.


5. Fightmaster Yoga

Visit Fightmaster Yoga on YouTube to watch videos for cardio burn, for stress, for morning, afternoon, and night, and so much more. 


Poses to Help Your Mental Health


Read about the science behind yoga helping anxiety and depression.


1. Anjaneyasana 

Definition: It is a combination of the Sanskrit words anjaneya = praise and asana = pose

How to:


Benefits: This position strengthens the quadriceps and gluteus muscles, improves your balance, concentration, and core awareness, calms the mind.


2. Natarajasana

Definition: It is a combination of the Sanskrit words nata = dancer, raja = king and asana = posture/seat.

How to:


Benefits: This develops concentration, tones the muscles of the legs and hips, and promotes balance, mentally and physically.


3. Vrikshasana

Definition: It is a combination of the Sanskrit words vriksha = tree and asana = pose.

Read about the story behind this pose: Learn more. 

How to:

Benefits: This improves your balance, physically and emotionally, and promotes stability, flexibility, and patience. 


4. Balasana

Definition: This is a combination of the Sanskrit words bala = child and asana = pose. 

How to:

Benefits: This pose stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles and calms the brain, relieving stress and fatigue. 


5. Uttanasana

Definition: This is a combination of the Sanskrit words ut = intense, tan = stretch, and asana = pose. 

How to:

Benefits: This position calms the brain, reduces fatigue and anxiety, and may relieve stress or mild forms of depression. 


Stay safe out there and know that you are not alone!




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