The body’s reaction to stress is meant to protect us as it adjusts to its surroundings to maintain homeostasis. Our natural reactions to danger or challenge can be positive, but when we feel intense pressure or out of control these reactions become negative stress.
For those who harbor anxiety, the stress response remains and can lead to more serious health problems such as heart attack, diabetes, cancer, or thyroid problems. Different people experience stress differently and may experience one or more effects.
Taking a holistic approach to stress for relieves and to manage stress and its symptoms is most beneficial since stress affects the body, mind and spirit. One natural method of stress management that has a holistic approach and is very effective is Tai Chi.
A Gentle Martial Art
Tai Chi, or Tai Chi Chuan was first developed as a martial art sometime during the 13th century. Today it is practiced as a series of slow, gentle flowing body movements that put emphasis on concentration, relaxation and the conscious circling for vital energy through the body.
It is recognized and accepted around the world as a great exercise program and a complimentary therapy by even the traditional western medical community as an effective means of reducing stress by calming the mind and conditioning the body including greater balance and increased flexibility.
Perhaps the greatest thing about Tai Chi, besides its effectiveness is that it is self-paced, non-competitive, and is not as strenuous as some of the other programs so it is safe for people of all ages and levels of fitness. You dont need any special equipment and once you have learned the moves you can practice it yourself, anytime and anywhere that you so choose.
Tai Chi Styles
There are different styles of Tai Chi and the intensity of tai chi varies somewhat depending on the style. The different styles of tai chi are named for the families that originated them.
Some of the more popular styles include Chen, Hao, Sun, Wu, Yang and Zhao Bao. Whether practiced as a martial art, stretching or form of exercise the benefits are numerous. The emphasis is on receptivity, relaxation and inner calmness or peace rather than strength.
As far as physiological responses, cardiovascular and respiratory function are improved as well as having an effect on cortisol and nor epinephrine production. Many older people are attracted to practicing Tai Chi since it is low impact and helps them to improve balance and flexibility which may in turn help to reduce falls, which themselves may cause undue stress.
The thing about stress is that some of the very signs and symptoms that happen as a result are themselves direct contributors to stress. This is why it is important to find something that works for you to help you to maintain a healthy level of stress and to learn how to manage it now and in the future. Practicing Tai Chi has immediate effects as well as residual effects on the mind and body when it comes to stress response.