NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) -- Studies have shown repeatedly that stress wears on the body. Now the Yale Stress Center is applying research to prevention.
Time to connect mind and body re-energizes and relaxes women like Ronni Rabin.
"We all have stress in our lives, which is not necessarily a bad thing," Rabin said, "it's just learning how to manage stress so you can live well and be productive."
The yoga class is among the preventive programs offered at the Yale Stress Center where the focus is now science and patient care.
It's a move to offset the growing evidence that stress is more harmful than most believe.
"Stress is toxic to the body absolutely."
The Director of the center Dr. Rajita Sinha says the body responds quickly to stress.
"We have a very good stress system," said Sinha, "it alerts our mind and body to do things that would protect us for survival."
The key to uncontrollable stress is shoring up the body's stress system.
"We've shown for example in the brain the more stressors you have, your brain starts to shrink and not the whole brain, but specific regions of the brain and those regions are important to our ability to cope," said Sinha.
Biofeedback: to help control the heart rate is a way of coping with the stressors says Psychologist Dr. Keri Tuit.
"When we're in a stressful situation it increases, when we're in a relaxed situation it decreases," said Tuit, "well how great would it be if we could have some control over it."
Mindful stress reduction techniques also eases the impact of stress.
Dr. Tuit adds, "what we've found as part of this program is that it really does make a difference in decreasing stress in peoples lives, improving their mood and then physiologically, we've actually seen changes in blood pressure."
Empowering people to identify what triggers the stress is just as important.
Rabin says, "I know that whenever I take time to take care of myself and certainly exercise is a big part of that, that I have more energy for work, for family life and anything that confronts me."
Time is needed to allow the body to decompress and take on the stress.
Dr. Sinha says stress-related conditions are on the rise such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and certain cancers.
Stress she says, can make it worse and can provoke relapses.
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