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STRESS MANAGEMENT FOR WOMEN
Utilizing Tai Chi/Qigong and Yoga for 
Total Relaxation of the Body, Mind and Spirit.
 
by
Cynthia Knorr-Mulder RNC, MSN, NP-C,CS, C.Ht

When we talk about stress management one thing we always have to remember is that we can’t change stress. It is always there and always will be. However, what we can do is decrease our perception of it by utilizing complementary modalities that have been practiced for over hundreds of years to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Tai Chi/Qigong, which has been practiced in China for over 600 years, does exactly that. Moving through Tai Chi/Qigong postures gently works the muscles and helps to combine mental concentration with coordinated breathing. Often called meditation in motion, Tai Chi is becoming very popular in the US and appeals to women because the synchronized movements are easy to learn, perform, and can fit into busy lifestyles.   As women, we have a tendency to nurture all of those around us and in doing so we forget to nurture ourselves. Self-care plays a vital role in how we manage stress. Women all over have recognized the positive outcomes of self-care and are attending weekly classes for Tai Chi/Qigong and yoga. Women attending these classes state that they feel less stressed throughout the week and are better able to face the challenges ahead. Outcome research has shown that even after only one week, women will have a reduction in heart rate, blood pressure, anxiety, depression, fatigue and pain and a general increase in their overall perception of health.

I had a 42-year-old women who was referred to me by her physician for anxiety and high blood pressure. During her fourth week into a yoga program her blood pressure was within normal range and she was feeling less stress by utilizing the techniques she had learned in the program. As she expressed how wonderful she was feeling she stated, “Okay now I’m done, I just wanted to get better so I could go back for my doctors appointment next week with a low blood pressure”.  I advise participants that including these modalities into your lifestyle can indeed be very beneficial for stress management and total health although one must practice these modalities weekly if not every day in order to incorporate it into your philosophy of life. 

As a Complementary Medicine Nurse Practitioner I not only recommend these modalities for women seeking stress management, but I also feel that it significantly benefits women with chronic conditions.  It is an ideal practice for women at any age that experience increased stress resulting from chronic pain with arthritis, fibromyalgia, or back injuries. Women with this type of pain need a milder and more soothing exercise. Tai Chi/Qigong and Yoga facilitate low impact movements that increases muscle strength and balance while promoting general pain relief and an improved quality of life.

By participating in these modalities women report a decrease in pain, depression, anxiety and fatigue increased flexibility and an overall increase in their perception of health. These classes are an ideal lifestyle addition for women of any age to help decrease stress. Not only are the classes inexpensive, but they can be practiced almost anywhere at any time with no special equipment or clothing.

Tai Chi/Qigong and Yoga are not a vigorous workout like traditional exercise and participants reap the added benefit of balancing mind and spirit. Most female patients with chronic illness don’t want a vigorous exercise regime, but they want the benefits of exercising. If they don’t like to exercise they will not stick with any program designed for them. Since Tai Chi/Qigong and Yoga are something people really enjoy, they tend to stick with it.

In most classes you can find a large group of women ranging in age of 28-83 participating weekly to master gentle postures and movements with an emphasis on breathing and inner stillness. The women continue daily to practice Tai Chi/Qigong or Yoga, and state they would never go a day without it because it makes them feel physically, mentally and spiritually fit.

Not only do I advocate these modalities for my clients I also stress the importance of self-care and therefore can be seen weekly joining group sessions of Tai Chi/Qigong and Yoga and include meditation in my daily practice. Practicing these modalities increases my mind-body-spirit connection and reaffirms my commitment to self-care. This serves as the foundation of what I do as a complementary medicine practitioner and that is first and foremost to build a therapeutic relationship with each and every one of my clients.

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