Anxiety disorders affect 18.1 percent of adults in the United States—that's approximately 40 million people between the ages of 18 and 54.
Studies show that many college students today report feeling isolated, misconstrued, and emotionally fragile or unstable. As a college student myself, I can say that the majority of my friends have told me that they struggle with anxiety (or anxious tendencies), and I often experience the intensity and consuming nature of these feelings, as well.
This could be due to our increased social media use and unrealistic standards set by this—we're constantly checking how many Instagram likes we're receiving to define our self-worth. Social media can be an amazing, unifying thing, but when it becomes too consuming, anxiety levels spike.
"Anxiety is essentially worrying about the future, about bad things that haven't happened yet and probably won't," Jenny Taitz, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy in New York City, explains. "Because anxiety is future-focused, anything that keeps you in the moment is helpful."
So, how do we help clear our cluttered and perpetually racing minds and find those moments of tranquility, confidence, and self-compassion? A daily yoga practice is a wonderful start.
Think about it: When we're on our phones, we are hunched over and our chests are closed off, which leads to tight shoulders and poor posture. Furthermore, when we are stressed out, negative emotions cause tension in the hips, leading to a buildup of tightness. Overuse of social media outlets and overall anxiety due to day-to-day events lead to a generally tense body throughout.
What are you doing right now? Check in with yourself. Become aware of your breathing. Inhale through your nose, and slowly let that exhale out through your mouth. Straighten your spine, relax your shoulders, release the tension in your jaw, and close your eyes. Allow yourself to be present, and let go of anything that doesn't serve you.
The things I just told you to do probably felt really good. So, incorporating them into your daily yoga practice will only increase your feelings of self-worth, reducing anxiety.
My favorite part of the day is turning my phone off for an hour (or more) and putting time aside for my yoga practice and body. I have never had a time where I stepped on the mat and regretted it afterward. I don't have a set time when I practice every day—but when I realize that I am overanalyzing trivial things or I can feel the tension in my body and know my anxiety levels are high, I stop, breathe, turn off my phone, and immerse myself in an hour of yoga.
Yoga has made me realize that we have total control over our bodies and our perspective. It all begins and ends in your mind, and if we slowly learn how to conquer our own thoughts and manifest them into positivity and love, we can reach that blissful area of peace and self-love that we all seek.