RICHMOND, Va. -- More than 19 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study released by the American Psychological Association found that stress levels are holding steady. According to the report, day-to-day struggles appear to be overwhelming most adults.
Ashley Williams, a yoga therapist, mindfulness educator, and the owner of Bare Soul Yoga in Richmond says she has been seeing a greater need for mental health and self-care support.
"Over the past year, we've just seen an uptick," she said.
Her community-based organization has been working with individuals, schools, and businesses in Central Virginia since 2014.
"Bare Soul Yoga's mission is to offer community-based programs to support the health and well-being of our community, to introduce what it means to be well through the vehicle of yoga, to take care of our minds and our bodies and our spirits, and to do that in a community setting because we all know that social relationships are a huge part of our wellbeing," Williams said.
The pandemic caused a lot of stress and anxiety in classrooms and households across the country.
"One thing that we're doing here is giving our teachers and our students more time to relate and to check in with themselves," she said. "The one thing that we hear the most is that they feel more relief and they feel more relaxed."
Ashley is an example of the healing power of mindfulness. Grief led her to the practice in 2013.
"The loss of someone really dear to me, which is my aunt. Things just got chaotic for me," Williams said.
She turned to yoga to find relief.
"Mindfulness really allowed me to get curious to find gratitude for the small things, to really accept the things that don't feel good," she said.
She decided to teach the power of yoga to others to help them deal with challenges and difficulties.
"If we just show up, the practice is going to work," she said.
By helping people connect with themselves, Ashley believes she is making the community a kinder place for everyone.
"When I'm creating spaces for people to practice yoga, I've just been a witness of people being in a deeper relationship with themselves. When we've been in a deeper relationship with ourselves, we're then able to be in a deeper relationship with each other," Ashley said.
The American Psychological Association study found that despite the high-stress levels, Americans do hold a positive outlook on the future. 70% believe that things will be better once the pandemic is over.
If you would like to read the entire report, click here.
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