If you suffer from any kind of anxiety and are in the process of seeking treatment, do not be surprised if your doctor or healthcare provider includes a regular exercise regimen in your prescription. Exercise and regular physical activity have been proven to help ease and soothe the frazzled nerves of people suffering from anxiety. More than minimising anxiety attacks, exercise also makes it easier for people to manage symptoms of anxiety.
How does exercise work to ease anxiety?
Some of the most common symptoms of anxiety include shortness of breath, heart palpitations, hyperventilation, dizziness, and stress. These symptoms are easily remedied or minimised by exercise. Regular cardiovascular exercise strengthens the heart, lungs and other organs affected by the symptoms. By making the heart stronger, exercise helps lower blood pressure and regulate heartbeat. A stronger heart also ensures that enough oxygen is supplied to the brain which minimises dizzy spells. Cardiovascular exercise also increases lung power which prevents hyperventilation and shortness of breath. Exercise also reduces stress by encouraging the release of endorphins or feel-good hormones in the body.
Aside from improving your body’s capability to handle anxiety symptoms, exercise also offers benefits that can make your general condition better.
Other benefits of exercise in easing anxiety.
The benefits of exercise are not limited to improving your physical condition. Your overall emotional and psychological well-being can also benefit from exercise, which can help ease anxiety symptoms. Below are some benefits exercise can give you in minimising your anxiety:
– Exercise gives you a distraction.
Instead of dwelling on your worries, getting into exercise can provide you with the necessary distraction. The music you listen to or the outdoor view can help your brain disengage from your worries and shift your attention to more pleasant things.
– Exercise boosts your confidence.
Aside from the obvious benefit of making you fit and look good, exercising can also boost your confidence. Treat excess pounds as hurdles you have to overcome and each pound lost, as an accomplishment. By doing so, exercise can make you feel accomplished in addition to making you look good.
– Exercise allows you to socialise.
Anxiety can make you a recluse and shy away from other people. But exercise, like taking a walk or jogging around your neighbourhood, can provide you with opportunities to be around other people and interact with them. Interaction can be as simple as an exchange of smiles or being reacquainted with other people around you.
– Exercise gives you an outlet to vent and cope.
There are many ways of coping with anxiety but not all of them are healthy. Some people resort to excessive drinking, drugs, getting into bad relationships, or overeating. These strategies are unhealthy and can do more damage to their mental health. On the other hand, exercising allows you to release your anxiety by concentrating on a physical activity, which helps you feel better and be healthier.
Exercising can contribute a lot to anxiety treatment and therapy. Aside from minimising symptoms, exercise also allows you to improve your sense of well-being which is crucial to your recovery.
Losing weight and maintaining the weight loss for an extended period of time requires some simple lifestyle adjustments. As long as you keep your adjustments within a sustainable reach, you should be able to lose weight and keep it off without much shock and interruption to your daily life.
Not surprisingly, losing weight does not have to require extended trips to the gym or engagement in some fad diet. Here are there steps to a healthier day that can help you slim down on weight without slimming down on your free time.
Daily exercise can make a difference in your body shape and in the way your body processes calories. When you exercise, you work your heart, mind and body. You are building your muscle mass, which in turn will increase the effectiveness of your metabolism.
Additionally, you encourage your heart to pump blood throughout your body more effectively, which means that you will have healthier blood and a reduced risk of heart disease. You reduce fatty deposits, which in turn helps reduce your risk of many health problems, such as diabetes. You also increase the number of endorphins that flow through your body, which means that you will note an increase in your positive attitude.
It does not require a large amount of time exercising to receive all of the above benefits. You simply need to work out regularly for a minimum of half an hour. Working out means taking a two-mile walk at a fast pace, throwing a Frisbee or riding a bicycle. Whatever the workout is, keep in mind that it should elevate your heart above it standing heart rate and it should make you breathe slightly heavier than normal. It is also good if you can break a sweat or feel your muscles challenged.
When you are trying to lose weight or sustain lost weight, it is vital that you allow yourself to eat all foods, but eat the unhealthy ones in moderation. The primary reason for many diets to fail is that people reduce the foods that they allow themselves to eat so drastically that they feel anxious after awhile eating the same things time and time again. When you allow yourself to give into simple cravings, you are rewarding your body and making it less tempted to crave larger portions of the bad foods.
You should also eat small portions of every food, regardless of its nutritional content. Eating smaller portions will help your stomach adjust to consuming less food. You can also drink water to help you feel full. Americans especially have a habit of eating more than one portion of food per meal ñ so be aware of your food portions!
Studies prove that having a Buddy help you work out increases your chances of maintaining a diet, exercise routine, or long-term weight loss. Buddies are fabulous motivators. They will keep you attuned to your habits and help you feel accountable throughout the day. If you must, enlist the help of a partner to be an appointed weight loss guardian. He or she will be tasked with ensuring that you stick to your weight loss goals by encouraging you to report your progress several times a week.
We all know that exercise promotes healthier body and better sense of well-being. It boosts confidence for people who need newer self image while it prevents the aggravation of physical illnesses for some. While nearly all of the research on exercise is focused on demonstrating positive effects on the physical body, there is a growing mass of research that seeks to prove that exercise is good for mental health as well.
A study conducted by the researchers from the Duke University along with other similar studies proved that exercise could help treat depression for 60% of all the participants. This result is similar with the total number of participants who are using medications for their treatment from depression.
However, you don’t have to be a sufferer of a mental illness before you benefit from exercise. You can boost your sense of well-being while walking on the treadmill or by combining yoga and meditation. In a way, exercise could be used as a potential medium for preventing the development of psychological and emotional conditions.
There are three dimensions at which we could look at when examining the benefits of exercise in the mental wellness of a person. Among the less well known is the biological aspect.
One theory suggests that physical workout or exercise could stimulate a part of the brain to release endorphins. Activities that are more likely to trigger the release of endorphins are swimming, cross-country skiing, running, bicycling, aerobics and sports like soccer, football and basketball.
Endorphins are comparable to opiates in a way that they resemble morphine. Endorphins could work in two ways- as a pain reliever (which is produced in response to the stresses brought about by physical work or stress) and as an enhancer of well-being. There are, however, no definite data that could support this claim.
On the other hand, exercise is also found to trigger the release of hormones norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. All these are known to help improve mood and is actually the main effect of Prozac, a known antidepressant.
Increase in these hormones could be best observed in a condition known as “runner’s high”. This feeling during after an acute exercise is directly linked to the increased number of the said hormones. However, there are still no conclusive studies proving that improvements on mood could be facilitated for a longer period of time.
Another is the physiological aspect. Nearly all of the feelings we associate with mental wellness come from our personal evaluation of the way our body feels. Say for instance, if you perceive a stomach pain as a form of stress then you will feel stressed (and sometimes even depression) every time your stomach aches. Likewise, exercise could render feelings such as muscle relaxation and easier breathing which we associate with “feeling better”. While this correlation is yet to have a better scientific grounding, we still could not deny the fact that muscle tension and increased blood flow go together with physical fitness.
No one knows yet how exactly exercise affects mental health. But it is common among patients to view exercise as a good medium to elevate their moods. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the Charity Mind nearly two-thirds of all people who said that they use exercise to relieve symptoms of stress and depression believe that exercise actually works for them. The scientific community is yet to understand how this happens though and for now, it remains a truth that people benefit from exercise for mental health.
I’m sure that most people have suffered from “the blues” at some stage in their lives, but for some people suffering from chronic depression, it is a lot like having “the blues” every day of the week. Does chronic depression set in and never go away?
Why do some of us have to suffer like this and how often to you think to yourself ‘just get over it and sort yourself out’? How often do you think ‘maybe if I just start exercising every day, take time out to read, try and create a more positive attitude, it will all be ok?
The truth is by doing this it can help, but even though this easy technique sounds simple, it is not. When suffering from chronic depression it is very hard to motivate yourself even though you know that this is what you have to do. You feel so miserable that you just don’t have the motivation to exercise or the concentration to read anything. It is very difficult to think positive thoughts when you’re down and your mind is full of so many negative thoughts.
At first, you begin with a huge effort to do something. Maybe go for regular walks over a couple of days, or you may even go into a bookstore to buy a novel that you think you might enjoy. This action will sometimes improve positive thinking for a short time, but usually, it seems like such an effort to keep it up.
In the end, you cry out ‘who am I fooling’. You put the book aside or you stop walking. You are back to feeling depressed again. The problem is now you feel even more depressed because you tried and in your own mind you failed. This is not true. Start again.
Can these feelings of depression ever go away and stay away? Do we need a mentor, a friend or even a relative who can help and guide us day after day? Can we organise to go on regular walks together or visit interesting places? Can they help to stimulate positive feelings within us? Can they make us laugh and be happy again?
Sometimes the problem with people, who have never suffered from chronic depression, is that they don’t quite understand what it really is. They are generally feeling positive about themselves and don’t understand how we feel. The common answer that most people will come up with to remedy your chronic depression is ‘I wish they’d just get over it and move on’. It’s funny though. This is how I use to think about people with depression myself before I had it. So for a person who doesn’t quite know what the feeling of chronic depression is like, would they really want to help someone on a daily basis to ‘get over it and move on’. You will never know until you ask.
Just a warning about befriending others. People with chronic depression will always feel more comfortable in the company of other sufferers. If you want to break the cycle and feel more positive about yourself, then you must only seek out positive people as close friends and mentors. When you are with positive people always try and imitate their positive feelings. Believe me. If you have chronic depression you will have to work very hard at this. Remember that people with positive feelings will try and avoid you if you are negative all the time.
For some with diagnosed chemical imbalances, medication such as antidepressants can be an alternative option. This medication generally gives a person with chronic depression a feeling of euphoria and well being. Medication works, but it only works if you use the correct amount all the time, at the right dosage. These drugs are a great tool to stimulate positive thoughts and an ‘I can do it’ attitude. But unfortunately these drugs only last for a short time and the side effects can be devastating. Along with the feeling of the withdrawal symptoms by removing the drug, you can sink to an even lower level of depression than before. This will happen very quickly and can sometimes be very dangerous to your well being.
Talking to a professional therapist could be the answer for some people. A therapist is trained to listen and they do understand how you feel with chronic depression. Prepare to spend a lot of time with your therapist, so find one that you can trust. It will always feel better to talk about your depression to someone that you can trust. But like a drug the withdrawal symptoms of stopping your therapist visits can be just as disastrous. Those negative feelings return again.
Face your fears. Why not stand up to you’re demons that are causing your chronic depression. Try and delve deep into yourself for that unpleasant experience or feeling and understand why you got depressed in the first place. Unfortunately, you may have a chemical imbalance and only drugs or a change in diet may help.
But what if there is a bad experience that has triggered your chronic depression. Do something about it. You may even be depressed just because you haven’t taken any action at all. Tell yourself you can do it. You don’t want to be depressed forever. Do something every day that will change the way that you feel. Face your worries head-on.
Say goodbye to chronic depression and “The Blues” feeling
I have always loved walking. I am not able to really explain why, but the simple act of walking, of putting one foot in front of another and the creating a movement of motion, has always made me feel good, giving me a sense of freedom. I remember that summer especially, when I decided to go for a week-long hike on the way to Santiago, in Spain. My bag was a little bit too heavy, and my feet were hurting me, but I felt like I was liberated.
For me, it has always been easier to talk while walking. On that trip, I was alone with a friend, and our adventure, our sharing of something only us could see, made communication much easier. My anxious mind started to soothe. Walking along the seashore, and the mountain and the forests calmed me down. I was focused on my goal for each day; I had to reach that town or this village, and it was the biggest thing on my mind – maybe sharing a little bit of space with the food breaks! Every day, I could say that I had achieved something, I had accomplished the aim I had set for myself in the morning.
It may sound trivial, but it is actually quite important. Having something to be satisfied with – even proud of if I may say – at the end of each day is crucial to boost your self-esteem and feel better about yourself. Personally, it makes me feel like I am worthy of something, that I can still accomplish things in my life. It’s all about the little things, as the saying goes. Even if I am at home all day with nothing in particular to do, I now try to go out and take a little stroll. If anything, I have managed to get myself out of the house for a few minutes, to get dressed and make myself look acceptable for the outside world. This simple gesture makes me feel like my day was not completely wasted and keeps me from losing grip completely.
Being outside, looking at life going by, the animals, the people, the sea, has some kind of magical, relaxing effect. I stop thinking about how miserable I may feel, or how anxious I am. I start acknowledging the world can be pleasant. I close my eyes, and I soak the sun in, or I feel the cold wind on my face, and somehow I feel rejuvenated. Almost like a new beginning.