Exercising anxiety can be a challenge because people who suffer from it chronically tend to have panic attacks. Forty million adults suffer from GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) annually and can lead to social isolation.
Common, every-day activities such as going to the gym can be difficult for people suffering from anxiety, especially if the patient has a tendency to isolate from others. According to WebMD, here are some signs you suffer from GAD:
Symptoms Of Anxiety
- Shortness of breath
- Not being able to be still and calm
- Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
- Heart palpitations
- Problems sleeping
- Dry mouth
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- Cold or sweaty hands or feet
- Muscle tension
Why Movement Reduces Anxiety Attacks
When panic attacks occur and anxiety begins to consume a person, muscles become rigid. Difficulty breathing and heart palpitations can also occur.
Think about what movement does to the body? If you are in motion, you increase blood flow and oxygen to your working muscles via hemoglobin. Think about when you have a charley horse in your calf. The best way to relieve the pain is to move your leg until the cramp goes away. Anxiety dissipates with exercise just as well as taking an anti-anxiety medication, studies show. Even doing 10 minutes of exercise, psychologists say, can be as effective as a 45-minute work out.
Exercise Is Not A Total Replacement For Anxiety
Important: Consult with your doctor. Anyone who is prescribed medication for anxiety should not suddenly stop taking them. Exercise helps to alleviate anxious and depressive moods, but do not attempt getting off prescription medication cold turkey and by yourself. Always discuss your goals with your psychiatrist and or physician.
According to WebMD:
“Medication is useful for alleviating the symptoms of GAD and is often prescribed in conjunction with other therapies. Some types of anxiety drugs can be habit-forming and are usually prescribed on a short-term or as-needed basis.”
Medical experts and studies show that physical exercise prevents stress-induced activation of granule neurons and enhances local inhibitory mechanisms in the dentate gyrus. The dentate gyrus is part of the brain within the hippocampus that contributes to the formation of new memories. In other words, exercise reduces stress hormones in your body. This is good news for anxiety sufferers as well as those who experience depressive episodes on a regular basis.
10 Steps To Goal Setting
Defeating anxiousness can be as challenging or difficult as you make it.
- Get a white board (or paper) and dry markers so you can write down your goals.
- Place the white board (or post the paper) in a place where you can see your goals.
- Set a deadline; write a date when you want to reach your goals.
- Break down your goals into smaller, doable chunks.
- Weigh what you set out to accomplish and begin with the resources you have.
- Be realistic; don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to do too much at once.
- Rank your goals, by placing priority tasks at the very top of your list.
- Be kind to yourself; reward yourself when you check something off your list.
- Tell others about your goals because it helps to hold yourself accountable.
- Surround yourself with supportive people who want to see you succeed.
Enjoy Your Down Time: Learning To Unwind
If you are prone to anxiety, then you’re likely a chronic worrier. Sometimes it’s hard to unwind and relax with everything on your mind. Begin by exercising, eating right, getting proper sleep, and writing down goals. But, after all your hard work, it’s important to take deep meditative breaths and learn how to relax. Yoga, meditation classes, and breathing exercises can help. You can always unwind with an uplifting movie.
Remember “What About Bob?” the movie with Bill Murray. I love that movie and the baby steps he took to overcome his fears and phobias. Another great movie to watch is “As Good As It Gets” and “Yes Man.” You can begin by taking baby steps, forcing yourself out of your comfort zone and saying yes to life. I find some humorous movies about those who deal with anxiety and mental health in general to be therapeutic.
Don’t Isolate Yourself, Make Time For Friends
Fight the desire to isolate yourself and make sure you schedule time to see friends. Anxiety can feel like it’s consuming our lives, but it doesn’t have to. According to the Social Anxiety Institute, social anxiety stems is fear of social interaction.
Feel Your Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D., suggests that the only way to overcome social situations is to practice being around others. This might seem silly for someone who doesn’t deal with social anxiety or anxiety in general. But, experts suggest that isolation increases GAD.
It’s Okay If You Fail
Finally, it’s okay if you fail. Failing is a part of growing and learning. If you fail, at least you gave it a shot. You get yourself back up and try again. The important thing is to follow through with the goals you have in mind.
Overcoming anxiety is one goal that can help reduce stress and help you live a healthier life.