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8:05 AM Wed, Sept. 26th

Stillness can be a tool in overcoming stress

When we're trying to manage life's stressors, how we deal with these challenges can positively or negatively impact our mental health and our overall health and well-being. Finding healthy ways to manage life's challenges can lower the risk of mental health and other health problems and help you feel better overall. According to the website of Mental Health America, there are many strategies that include exercise, connecting with others, getting enough rest, helping others, and knowing your limits. An additional strategy they mention is this:

Relax your mind. Each person has his or her own ways to relax. You can relax by listening to soothing music, reading a book or doing a quiet activity. Also think about deep breathing, yoga, meditation or massage therapy.

While West Yavapai Guidance Clinic has always believed in a holistic approach to achieve mental health and in the mind-body connection, only recently have health promotion activities such as yoga been added to regular programming. Enrolled clinic clients have several yoga groups and a meditation group available to them, among other health promotion classes. The goal of the yoga classes in particular, according to instructor Dianne Petry, is neither perfect poses nor alignment. "The biggest benefit, especially with the Yin yoga we use, is that participants are focused on being still. This particular yoga focuses on letting go and teaching someone to be OK with yourself where you are."

While learning and mastering this technique can be beneficial for anyone, Petry believes it is even more important for someone with a mental health disorder. "It's more important because of the labels that are put on people with a mental illness, and the judgments that they put on themselves. This particular practice within yoga teaches not to judge yourself, not to limit yourself and to be OK with where you are. The breath is the back door and pathway to the mind. These classes are about discovering and experiencing your own healthy rhythm in life," Petry said.

Recently, a yoga class participant and clinic client mentioned to Petry that this was the first time she was able to sit still with herself, and her feelings.

Want to start at home with deep breathing? Here is the deep breathing technique offered at www.mentalhealthamerica.net:

Deep breathing is a great way to de-stress. It actually changes your brain's chemical balance to calm you down. Here's how to do it:

• Lie down or sit on the floor or in a chair.

• Rest your hands on your stomach.

• Slowly count to four and inhale through your nose. Feel your stomach rise. Hold it for a second.

• Slowly count to four while you exhale through your mouth. To control how fast you exhale, purse your lips like you're going to whistle. Your stomach will slowly fall.

• Do this a few times.