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Why is Everybody So Stressed?

Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s preeminent experts on traumatic stress, sums it up: “We are living in a world that feels less safe, manageable and predictable.” Life is simply coming at us faster than we can function. It’s said that we have 5,200 times the sheer experience as that of our ancestors of just a century ago. Our nervous systems have not been able to evolve as quickly as the technology, rapidity and complexity of today’s world and statistics show that we are all feeling it.

Society’s dysfunctional attempts to cope with today’s stressors are revealed in the statistics. For the first time in history, stress and anxiety disorders are affecting younger children and college students at unprecedented rates. We have an alarming opioid epidemic overshadowing the shocking fact that there were more alcohol-related deaths in 2014 than all drug and opioid deaths combined. Antidepressant prescriptions increased 400 percent since 1990 and prescriptions for anti-anxiety and sleep medications are at all-time highs. Gun violence has become the norm, the suicide rate is up for both genders and mass shootings have become regular news.

As a society, it’s clear that we need healthy coping skills to self-soothe and self-regulate stress and emotions without numbing or lashing out. Yet, we have never been taught the coping skills and methods. A study published by the National Institutes of Health reported that a yoga and meditation group demonstrated significantly greater improvements in scores for insomnia, perceived stress, resilience, stress and anxiety in comparison to a waitlist control group. The average score improvement shows anxiety levels went from 9.4 to 5.7 and stress from 13.2 to 8.8 after only eight weeks. If you want to release stress and learn methods for relief, find a yoga teacher or studio specializing in stress reduction and/or trauma-informed yoga. Also, see “Stress Release Sundays” in the News Briefs section.

Devpreet Kaur is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional and registered yoga and meditation teacher offering trauma-informed yoga and recovery and stress release yoga classes at Live In Joy Yoga, in Audubon, N.J. For more information and to reach her, visit DevpreetKaur.com.

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