Anxiety, fear and worry are part of living, but there’s a point where those feelings cross the line and begin to control your entire life. It can make experiences that should be fun into ones that you dread and turn those dreaded experiences into nightmares. While it’s not a substitute for professional help for severe cases of anxiety, exercise and relaxation can help reduce anxiety. If you’re suffering from normal anxiety and stress, it may be the perfect solution to get you back on course. If you’re suffering from an anxiety disorder, it can be a help when combined with traditional treatment.
The body reacts to stress/fear.
When you’re under stress, your body prepares to fight or run. That fight or flight response comes from the body’s creation of hormones that starts in the sympathetic nervous system. It stimulates the adrenal glands to release hormones called catecholamines, such as adrenaline and noradrenaline. Those hormones make your blood pressure rise, heart rate increase and rate of breathing increase. It reduces the blood flow to surface area of the body and stomach, sending the flow to muscles in the extremities, brain and other muscle groups. It boosts the body’s ability to clot blood, so if there’s injury, blood loss will be at a minimum. Pupils dilate and muscles tense, sometimes causing trembling.
Stress or fear can turn into anxiety.
Stress and the fear it comes from doesn’t have to be real danger for the brain to set off the fight or flight response. It can come from a memory, a dream or lived vicariously from a story offered by another or a movie. When it occurs with no real danger, it’s often from anxiety. Luckily, exercise is great for burning off the hormones created by stress. It even helps create hormones that make you feel good again.
Exercise is a start, but you also need relaxation techniques to boost the effort.
You can’t always jump on a treadmill or drop down and do ten when anxiety hits. It often comes at times in your life when you’re faced with critical issues, crowds of people and even when the activity should be fun. If you can find a quiet moment in your head, you can probably get your anxiety level down to manageable with some relaxation techniques. One that you can do anywhere requires you to focus on a personal item as you inhale and exhale slowly. Make all your breathes deep. Keep your focus only on your item, whether it’s jewelry or even your hand. Do this for one or two minutes and you’ll start feeling more peaceful and calm.
- If you’re faced with an upcoming anxiety producing situation, find an outlet you can do before you begin. It can be running up and down stairs, deep knee bends or simply parking far from your destination and walking briskly to it to help relieve the tension.
- Learning meditation techniques can help you quiet your mind and lower your level of anxiety.
- Deep breathing exercises can help in a crowd. Breathing from the diaphragm can be done anywhere anxiety starts, even in the middle of a crowd. Practice before faced with anxiety is important.
- A program of regular exercise can help lower symptoms of anxiety significantly the longer you maintain it. Just one high energy session, can bring relief for hours.