Our society may have become more open and comfortable with discussing mental health, but there is still a stigma around the actual management of anxiety and depression.
It’s a very healthy first step to admitting and accepting your emotional triggers, but it’s another step to learning how you need to cope. If we can’t cope, we tend to choose easy fixes which often lead to negative addictions i.e. drugs, alcohol, overeating, etc.
Coping is not easy at all. It’s hard, it’s painful, but you have to learn more about the darker side of yourself in order to truly understand your light.
We all suffer. We all go through life changes and cycles that are beyond our control. Without suffering, there is no happiness.
Two months ago, when I lost my father to a sudden illness, I thought I was going to lose my mind. I thought I had no control over my life anymore because something as powerful and uncontrollable as death took away my greatest role model and support.
I can openly admit that I went back to overeating, neglecting my yoga practice, and drinking too much alcohol, like, if not more than when I went through my divorce.
Part of me, maybe the darker side, the side that thinks it’s easier to linger in despair, said, “It’s okay. you’re going through a lot right now. It is acceptable.
But another part of me knew I was just making excuses. I believe that most of the time we always know, but we go through errors of judgment and we devalue ourselves to hide from our suffering. Instead, we need to value ourselves enough to know that we can overcome our suffering.
Coping is about controlling what you can and letting go of what you can’t. We cannot control the loss of a loved one. We cannot control how others treat us. We can control how we treat ourselves mentally. We can control how we treat our own body.
There are many ways to cope through positive actions. For me, getting back to my yoga practice, stopping the negative self-talk, watching what I’m putting into my body, and just getting back to a healthy lifestyle helps me feel grounded.
Replace a negative reaction with a positive reaction; a negative dependency with a positive dependency. Become addicted to food.
How does yoga help? Yoga teaches us to be aware of every breath we take. I like to remind myself that every inhale and exhale I take is a gift.
The American Osteopathic Association states, “Incorporating meditation and breathwork into yoga can help improve a person’s mental well-being. Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calm; increases body awareness; relieves chronic stress patterns; relaxes the mind; center the attention; and sharpens concentration.
Yoga teaches us to find harmony between our emotional and physical body. Yes, with regular practice you can build strength, lose weight, increase flexibility, improve energy levels, and protect your body from injury.
More importantly, however, it can help you reduce stress, learn to control your reactions, and develop positive coping skills by finding a more positive outlook on your life.
No, yoga is not handstands and pretzel-like twists and turns. Anyone can start a yoga practice by simply breathing.
Try digging your heels into the earth, closing your eyes, relaxing your shoulders, and just allowing yourself to feel each inhale and exhale.
Remember that you are a gift.
You were created perfectly.
Your journey does not end with your suffering.
Every day is a new beginning. Make a good one.
Namaste. The light in me honors the light in you.
Viviane Khounlavong is a personal trainer, health coach, and yoga instructor working in Lawrence County.