If you’ve read any of my earlier posts, you may be asking “so where’s the fantastic?” It’s not all doom here, I promise. There is so much fantastic, so many amazing moments in life, it’s hard to capture it all. Despite the many years of suffering, I’ve managed to live a pretty full and pretty incredible life. I’ve taken many a deep breath and jumped into the deep end. Some might think that the most mundane tasks are simple, but in my world, sometimes stepping out the door is hard work. So it’s essential that I keep both my mind and my body feeling strong.
I do my best to do some form of exercise at least 4 days a week. I don’t have the ability to do any hard core team activities or anything that puts a lot of strain on my hips due to my accident (I have a titanium rod in my left leg that has led to an irritating bursitis in my hip). I mix up some yoga with walking, golf, weights, Barre, a bit of stationary biking, and paddle boarding when weather permits. Once in a while I throw in some fun activities like badminton and tennis. It’s essential that I have an outlet for those days that I’m feeling stressed. Getting my heart rate up helps me to keep the demons at bay and allows me to focus on just me for an hour.
I’ve read that regular exercise works as well as medication for some people to reduce symptoms of anxiety as well as depression, and the effects can be long lasting. One vigorous exercise session can help alleviate symptoms for hours, and a regular schedule may significantly reduce them over time. Not to mention that when you exercise, you’re releasing endorphin’s that can help make you feel good both during and after.
According to Health Magazine these are the best exercises to help alleviate anxiety:
Running – Running causes lasting changes in our ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, both during and after exercise. What’s more: The repetitive motions of running appear to have a meditative effect on the brain.
Hiking in the Woods – Newer research seems to reinforce the idea that being immersed in nature is good for your mental health. A study published last summer, for example, discovered that when young adults went on a 50-minute nature walk, they felt less anxious and had improved memory function.
Yoga – Experts believe that yoga’s focus on the breath is especially beneficial for your mental health because it’s difficult to be anxious when you’re breathing deeply.
Taking a class (Barre, Yoga, Aerobics) also has the benefits of getting you out of the house and getting social. That may be tough for those who suffer from social anxiety, but it’s an activity that allows you to be around people, but not necessarily interacting with them.
My two dogs keep me active by demanding walks every day (that’s me in the picture that was attached to a featured story in Shape Magazine during the peak of my panic disorder walking two of my old dogs). Being outside in the fresh air is a welcome break from work, and it gives me some time to truly appreciate living in the moment as they pull me around the block. It’s a mini reset in the day that allows me to go back to my job feeling refreshed.
There are so many benefits to keeping a regular exercise schedule. I feel more confident overall, and that helps me feel ready to take on the more challenging moments in my life. It also aids in keeping my energy levels up, and gets me to sleep faster and deeper at night which is another critical factor in managing the anxious mind.
If you’re feeling nervous about undertaking an exercise routine, start slowly. I did hit a point in my life where I got worried every time I worked out because I feared I wouldn’t be able to catch my breath. If you can get into a rhythm, you’ll find that you’ll begin to feel more and more confident to push it a little further each time. Now I crave that endorphin rush!
Tip #3 – Find a trusted workout partner that can help motivate you. On those days when you’re thinking you can’t do it, let them know how you’re feeling. It might be that a small stroll around the block with a friend is all you need to get your mind right.