Think of it like this – your brain is a part of your body, so it makes sense that mental health issues can reveal themselves as physical symptoms too. There are so many ways then, in which we can manage, prevent and curb anxiety through movement, training and exercise.
The uncomfortable symptoms of anxiety – a racing heart, tense stomach, aching neck and shoulders to name a few – give you a feeling like you've totally lost control.
These symptoms are what's known as, 'fight or flight' mode, in which our bodies are getting ready to fight for our lives or run away from it all. Confusing when you're dealing with anxiety right? All you want at the end of the day is a stable frame of mind and beneficial routine to help you tackle further challenges and the voices in your head with confidence and self-love.
Anxiety manifests itself thanks to our nature to ignore taking care of ourselves first, and look to answering mounds of emails, worrying about financial issues etc instead. Our ever-busy day to day lives encourages us to sit and stew in our own anxious juices... a recipe for disaster.
What's important to remember though, is that nature has given us another tool – a handy one when it comes to learning how to stop feeling so anxious all the time. Adrenaline, or 'anxiety juice', gets burned up when we exercise, in the same vein as it would if we were to 'fight or flight'. Instilling a few mindful routines to help shift your mental health can do wonders, however, if you're considering medication, always consult your physician first and foremost.
How does exercise help anxiety and panic attacks
It may seem like a no-brainer, but try to make exercise a priority. Having too much adrenaline pumping in the body takes blood away from the frontal cortex – the rational mind – and means that our amygdala – the emotional brain – is in the driving seat. We’re more likely to make irrational decisions while finding it hard to think clearly and dampening down our creativity when we’re in fight or flight – ineffective for when you're trying to work or go about your long To Do List. When you exercise, you allow your brain and body to feel calm and develop this muscle memory further, leaving you better equipped to deal with your tasks.
Try to notice when you're feeling the symptoms of anxiety rise within you. Is it first thing in the morning? During an afternoon slump? At the end of your day? Find out when suits you to fit in a workout and you'll begin to train your brain to think that you are in control – and feel it rather!
Best exercises for depression and anxiety
Plain and simple, being outdoors is good for the soul. Even light intensity exercise has been shown to reduce levels of anxiety. It gives you time alone to think, and let your brain cogs move rather than be distracted by TV or social media. On the other hand, walking with a friend home from work can be beneficial if you feel like you've been isolating yourself and need that quality time.
2. Apps and videos
Youtube videos and the App Store are great resources to help you stick to a routine and plan ahead. Some even notify you when it's time to move or meditate, leaving no excuse! Convince a friend to do it with you and you'll notice that you feel more mindful and motivated with every session.
Exercising at a higher intensity helps produce endorphins, or 'happy chemicals’, that give us a beautiful feeling – or 'runner's high'. Even a 15-minute jog around the park can help burn off adrenaline and release tension in the body among other amazing health benefits.
When we practice yoga, we’re connecting to our body and our breath, we’re calming the mind and the nervous system and releasing tension from the body. A seriously interesting side note about yoga is that it trains us to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Learning to manage anxiety sometimes means being able to handle the discomfort of a racing heart during a presentation, a feeling of dread about going into a new situation, or feeling horribly uncomfortable and socially anxious.
As the dull ache progresses in certain new poses, and all you want is to make it stop, you’re asked to surrender, to let go and allow the discomfort to be there. Through this, you learn to handle discomfort and it’s one of the greatest skills we can develop.
The satisfaction of lifting a weight and noticing muscles develop can be incredibly gratifying and positive. Pushing yourself in general, not to the point of exhaustion but satisfaction, allows you to notice how much you've worked on yourself. Some people claim that it helps them feel more grounded and pretty much unstoppable!
When it comes to anxiety, noticing that you can actually make small changes to your daily routine here and there can have the most important beneficial shift in your life. So start moving and reap the amazing health and mental benefits of exercise to deal with anxiety.
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