Since this is my first blog, let me briefly introduce myself. After working as a co-occurring disorder therapist for 15 years, I began my career as a counselor educator. I also completed certification as a clinical supervisor while operating a coaching practice wherein I help program managers, clinical supervisors, and business owners manage their stress and time, achieve work-life balance, and develop leadership skills. Many of my clients struggle with Attention Deficit Disorder. All of this has required me to learn how to work smarter (not harder), manage multiple projects in a face-paced, high-tech, ever-changing workplace, and juggle multiple responsibilities (without dropping a single one).
So I guess I should be an authority on stress management. People like Daniel Goleman, author of “Working with Emotional Intelligence” tell us that stress is linked to memory problems. And, you know what? I believe it! I’ve always been so forgetful that my mom had me hide the Easter eggs. And, I still have to put “hello my name is” stickers on my spouse, kids and the dog on the most chaotic days to avoid mixing up their names. One of my clients complained of forgetfulness. He lamented, “At least my friends’ secrets are safe with me!” I asked him, “How long has that been happening?” and he replied, “How long has what been happening?”
But seriously, as advocates and role models of mental health, counselors need to be not just emotionally but also physically healthy. The more healthy habits we practice, the more likely we are to survive, better yet, thrive in a stressful and demanding profession such as ours. Yet, how could you possibly cram exercise into your 10-hour work day?
Well, it is feasible and well worth the effort. It's been estimated that more than 90% of all health problems bringing people into the doctor's office are stress-related! But it takes more than an apple a day to keep the doctor away. Along with diet, exercise is critical. If you know me, you know that I’m a strong advocate of exercise. There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not doing yoga; ballet, belly dancing, Zumba, or a Ballroom dance class. I typically hop on the bike, run, or teach couples Salsa dance.
Whether you are looking for improved fitness, lower stress, or better looks or sex life, yoga is one of your best options. Why? Contrary to the belief that yoga is just lying around and “ohm”-ing, it can be a rigorous full-body exercise that strengthens the body (and the mind)! Yoga brings with it all kinds of unintended benefits—like glowing skin, slower aging, and, you bet, better sex.
According to Siobahn O'Connor, author of a blog entitled “GOOD”, “yoga is proven to help prevent injuries by increasing flexibility and focus—but it’s also proven to be better than some sports in its ability to reduce anxiety and bad moods. The fact that it complements so many other sports—from dance and hockey to soccer and basketball—makes it a great supplemental workout for athletes and gym rats alike.” And you say yoga is for wimps? Think again because O’Connor claims that Shaq himself is a yogi.
O’Connor goes on to say that sleeping better makes your skin (not to mention, your entire body) function more efficiently. A study at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center suggested that just 20 minutes of yoga a week helped cancer patients fall asleep faster and sleep longer. More sleep means that your facial muscles get more rest. It also promotes cell turnover—which happens more at night than during the day. This, in turn, prevents premature skin aging.
Not only does yoga provide benefits like increased strength, flexibility, and satisfaction with your body. Several studies support the notion that yoga helps you in the bedroom, too. One study mentioned by O’Connor suggests that 75 percent of the women who practiced yoga experienced better orgasms. For men, a 2007 study where men were offered Prozac or yoga as a tool to counter premature ejaculation, those who chose the latter “had both subjective and statistically significant improvements” as compared to the guys who chose the drugs.
What’s more, yoga helps you relax through deep breathing. The twisting, bending, sweating, and deep breathing bring more oxygen to the body, circulate blood to undernourished areas, and improve lymphatic flow. Furthermore, the sweating can help balance hormones and detoxify the body. One study cited by O’Connor suggested that people who exercise are physically nine years younger than their non-exercising counterparts. Instructors claim that the headstands, handstands, shoulder stands, and forearm stands slow the aging process. So, counselors one and all: recharge your batteries and take care of yourself through exercise so that you have what it takes to care for others!
Barbara Jordan is a counselor, counselor educator, author, trainer, and leadership coach. For more information go to www.AdvantEdgeSuccessCoaching.com.