COMBATING SOCIAL WITHDRAWAL WITH HOLISTIC EXERCISE
COMBATING SOCIAL WITHDRAWAL WITH HOLISTIC EXERCISE
Individuals face daily stressors that impact their physical and mental health. Even the smallest change in an individual’s life can be the cause of stress; therefore, stress is considered as more of a subjective phenomenon (DeLongis & Holtzman, 2005). Stress is defined as a bodily response to demanding circumstances or situations (Butler, 1993). It is essential to effectively deal with stress as individuals are affected psychologically and physically. Managing stress is not an easy task, and sometimes it leads individuals towards unhealthy coping mechanisms that further deteriorates their daily functioning. Two types of mechanisms will be covered; ineffective and effective. This essay will describe ineffective ways of coping with stress and how an individual can replace ineffective with effective coping strategies. Therefore, The focus of social withdrawal as an ineffective coping strategy and the role of holistic exercise, in particular Yoga and Pilates in reducing the effects of stress one one’s life.
Healthy stress is vital as it helps individuals to increase their potential and level of productivity. In contrast, unhealthy stress takes a toll on the health of individuals, and it should be managed using effective coping strategies. Research indicates that long-term exposure to chronic stress can result in physical health issues (Schneiderman, Ironson & Siegel, 2005). Individuals encountering stress often use ineffective coping strategies to deal with stress. These strategies only result in dysfunctional and non-productive behaviours (Doron, Trouillet, Maneveau, Neveu & Ninot, 2014). One example of an ineffective coping strategy is social withdrawal. Coping refers to the conscious efforts of reducing problematic circumstances (Orzechowska, Zajączkowska, Talarowska & Gałecki, 2013). Individuals exhibit social isolation or avoidance behaviours in order to deal with stress. It is evident from the research conducted on coping with stress by Libin (2017) that isolating oneself from friends and family is an ineffective strategy to deal with the on-going stressors of life.
A Variety of emotions may be associated with stress in the early stages, such as anger, frustration, anxiety, and irritability (Butler, 1993). If the negative stressor persists, these emotions may coexist with other stressors such as helplessness, tension, depression, hypochondria, and demoralization (Butler, 1993). Social withdrawal resides in the category of emotion-focused coping, which only aims to increase the individuals’ emotional stress (Britt, Crane, Hodson & Adler, 2016). Research by Kremer and Spiridigliozzi (1982), indicated that individuals that engage in social withdrawal increase the probability of triggering stressful emotions. Furthermore, social withdrawal increases the feelings of loneliness and deprives one from the social support that is considered critical to healthy coping mechanisms (Brady & Felts, 2018). Thus, when an individual decides to isolate, the negative coping mechanism begins to arise. An individuals’ mind is built upon social connectedness and deprived, individuals, tend to experience increased negative emotions (Doron et al., 2014). Although, in some cases social involvement demands a lot more mentally from an individual going through chronic stress, to engage in positive social activities that increase the chances happiness, out weight the negative (Woodyard, 2011). However, it is easier said than done, research attained from Calvete and Connor-Smith (2006) indicated that people fear social situations because of the negative evaluation of others. Stress can increase negative thoughts, such as social isolation, but the benefit occurs when an individual feels a sense of belongingness, which comes by involving oneself in social activities.
Even with all the negative stress, there has to be a silver lining? Research from Woodyard (2011), showed that holistic exercise could help ease the effects of stress and social withdrawal resulting from stress. The study showed by doing exercises (such as Yoga and Pilates) increases serotonin levels of individuals and in turn, aids in combating stress levels. Furthermore, the study indicated, by participating in the exercise, increases the level of endorphins which not only reduces stress but also decreases the social withdrawal impact. Furthermore, a review of the literature by Stults-Kolehmainen and Sinha (2013) found 168 studies that examined the influence of stress and found that stress impairs efforts to be physically active. However, when stress decreases, social withdrawal also decreases, when individuals feel relaxed, they tend to think more positively about others and engage in more social activities (Azami, Shohani, Badfar, Nasirkandy & Kaikhavani, 2018). Stress is reduced by a reduction in cortisol levels and exercises has been proven to reduce the cortisol level by the coordination of brain and body, it lowers individuals’ blood pressure and thus also helps in stress reduction (Bowden, Gaudry, An & Gruzelier, 2012). Moreover, Yoga and Pilates combine meditation, relaxation, and controlled breathing. Yoga and Pilates is considered as an antidote to success, as it combines many stress-reducing techniques such as relaxation, clearing the mind, focusing and decreasing depression (Korkmaz, 2010). Research by Rizzolo, Zipp, Stiskal and Simpkins (2011), was conducted on the impact’s yoga had on stress, the research indicated that yoga provides an effective role in reducing stress and people engaging in yoga rarely prefer social avoidance or isolation. Yoga relaxes the mind of an individual opening it to focus on broader perspectives thus reducing social withdrawal and stress. Furthermore, more research conducted by Maddux, Daukantaité and Tellhed (2017) also indicated that, participating in Yoga increases social interactions in daily life and decreases the possibility of social isolation. Yoga help individuals in releasing tension from the body and through meditation, an individual learns to decrease stress. Relaxation methods are a great stress reducer and helps individuals to focus on solutions rather than problems (Azami et al., 2018). Increased physical activity balances the stress hormones of individuals and increases positive hormones. Thus, contributing to the emotional benefits, when people feel less stressed, they become physically and mentally healthy making them better as an individual.
Although Yoga is a great way to release stress, Pilates has also shown to aid in stress release. Pilates is another holistic exercise that can help in combating social withdrawal resulting from stress. Research from Lim and Park (2019) indicates that individuals performing different mediation exercises are more socially active as compared to individuals avoiding exercise. Low impact activities usually provide the ideal way to deal with stress and restore optimal function. A pilot study conducted by Korkmaz (2010) that involved 25 females with fibromyalgia indicated that after a 12-week Pilates program, there were significantly lower levers of depression in the individuals. Pilates is considered one of the best low impact exercises that if performed correctly, results in controlling the body, breathing, and mind (Long, 2014). Furthermore, Pilates aids in allowing individuals to practice mindfulness while leaving the stress creating thoughts behind. Pilates regenerates and restores energy levels of individuals to be able to function in their social life. Therefore, Pilates improves concentration and minimizes distraction creating a sense of peace and calm. This sense helps in naturally overcoming stress and anxiety (Lim & Park, 2019).
The major barrier to stress management for many people is procrastination. Individuals procrastinate on ideas that create unnecessary stress and deteriorate the functioning of an individual. A longitudinal study by Tice and Baumeister (1997) demonstrated that procrastinators showed lower stress and less illness than non-procrastinators earlier, but they reported higher stress and more illness later, the study portraited that procrastination thus appears to be a self-defeating behaviour pattern marked by short-term benefits and long-term costs. However, Procrastination can be managed by devising activity schedules. Thus, the sense of accomplishment from not procrastinating releases positive hormones in the body that helps reduce stress and manages social isolation.
Social avoidance or social withdrawal never provides a solution to the problem but creates more hurdles leading the individual to feel alone and depressed. In favour to this, Kremer and Spiridigliozzi (1982), indicated that individuals engaging in social interaction came up with a creative solution for their problems. Social withdrawal increases the sense of worthlessness resulting in increased stress, whereas social inclusion provides a sense of acceptance that reduces stress. Holistic exercise such as Yoga and Pilates can help individuals focus on the positivity of the situation thus decreasing maladaptive or ineffective coping strategies by the individuals. Furthermore, holistic exercise helps in reducing stress by mindfulness, resulting in a healthy body and sound mind. Research done by Doron et al., (2014) showed that endorphins work as painkillers and exercise produce endorphins which in turn reduces stress. The researchers also indicated that the mind and body work together and the production of endorphins regulates the physical and psychological health of an individual.
In conclusion, holistic exercise, specifically Yoga and Pilates, help in naturally reducing stress and increasing social interaction. Furthermore, holistic exercise releases endorphins that are linked with reducing the effect levels of cortisol in stress and increase serotonin levels. It has been shown by doing Yoga and Pilates, it is combating social withdrawal by creating a social networking group. It is imperative to understand that a holistic approach deals with an individual as a whole. Therefore, an exercise program addressing each area of an individual’s body and mind can help reduce stress and negative coping mechanisms and restore the quality of life to the individual.
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