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    5 natural ways to boost your mental health during stressful times | National News

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    “Anytime you intentionally bring your attention to your breath and slow it down, you’ve already done a good thing,” Ackrill said. “That’s just one simple tool that you can use and it gives you back a feeling of power and control.

    “And it gives you that pause where you begin to realize that you are separate from what’s happening to you, and you can choose a response instead of just a primal reaction.”

    Take up yoga, tai chi or qi gong

    Yoga, of course, is a form of physical exercise. In additon to releasing endorphins, yoga can regulate the body’s central stress response system, called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, and improves sleep quality, said Jacinta Brinsley, a doctoralcandidate at the University of South Australia who recently published a study on yoga.

    But yoga is also a spiritual discipline, designed to meld body and mind. A yoga lifestyleincorporates physical postures, breath regulation and mindfulness through the practice of meditation.

    “Yogic philosophy teaches that the body, mind and spirit are all interconnected — what you do in one area, for example, a physical exercise to strengthen your leg muscles, will have an effect in all of the other areas of your system,” said Laurie Hyland Robertson, the editor in chief of Yoga Therapy Today, a journal published by the International Association of Yoga Therapists.

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