High functioning anxiety, anxiety disorders, panic attacks and anxiety induced stress are increasingly on the rise, with millennials and Gen X-ers experiencing more anxiety than our than generations before us, with seemingly less scope to manage it effectively.
How many of us can recall the last time we stayed awake at night tossing and turning over our thoughts? Or felt your heart racing, palms sweating and feet are frozen to the spot with anxious feelings?
All too often we hear “I’m super anxious” floating around our work and social circles. One one hand, the more people that openly discuss their mental state the better, as it helps to remove the surrounding stigmatism, but on the other hand, it just shows how unbelievably common this issue is.
With 1 in 5 adults experiencing regular anxiety, it’s never been a been a better time to start looking for other remedies, besides initially reaching for medication and with our overall health in mind. As anxiety is generally heightened from inactivity, exercise is your no.1, ultimate, anti-anxiety fix.
We all know the physical benefits of exercise: improved endurance, cardiovascular health, agility, performance, aesthetics. But what about the mental benefits? A lot of people overlook the effect of your daily sweat on your mental state, often resulting in feelings of inner strength, boosted self-confidence and self-esteem, managing breathing and learning to let go.
In addition to these, working out can improving sleep cycles, giving structure to schedules, managing cortisol rhythms (that are generally disrupted when stress levels are high and anxiety is prevalent) and preventing inactivity.
The extra pick-me-up perk? Working out releases endorphins, your body’s “natural painkiller” and relaxation neurotransmitter, giving you an all-time high once the work is done!
Here are our five best workouts for anxiety.
Yoga tends to be the first port of call for anyone feeling stressed, strung out or anxious, and for good reason! Studies show that through turning the focus inwards and centering the mind on the breath, symptoms of anxiety are substantially reduced. ‘Taking it to the mat’ is a proven way to slow down your heart rate, unwind tension from the body and develop a sense of mindfulness, helping to deter you from the constant churning of thoughts.
Committing to regular yoga classes can enable you to cultivate a moving meditation practice, whilst simultaneously encouraging a method of presence, gratitude and stillness, which can have long-term, calming benefits, translating beyond the studio into your everyday life.
It may sound obvious, but getting up, out the door and onto a long walk is one of the simplest, yet effective methods to help ease anxiety. It quickly works to balance your breathing pattern whilst getting oxygen flowing and provide a chance to find some headspace.
The steady, consistent rhythm of walking can be a calming stimulus, offsetting the jittery feelings that accompany anxiety. As a mindful practice, opt for a scenic route or plug into your favourite podcast series to give your mind something to anchor to.
Bouldering requires 3 main skills: Focus, analytical thinking, and agility. Two of these will demand constant attention from your whirring mind and the third will get your body moving – the perfect anti-anxiety workout. For those who suffer from anxiety, bouldering is one of the best distraction workouts.
Your mind is so focused on the next move, it doesn’t have time to focus on anything else! Not to mention, the physical benefits of such a complex workout will leave you feeling accomplished and full of self-assurance; great fighters against anxious thoughts
Anxiety is often accompanied by fear, a sense of overwhelming pressure, nervousness or anger. What better way to unload those emotions by letting it out onto a boxing bag?!
Boxing is an incredible, full-body cardio and strength workout that zones your focus to successfully nail the tricky combinations of strike sequences – say goodbye to endless mind-wandering chatter. From beginner level to pro-fighter status, boxing workouts develop your coordination, power, speed and agility skills, making your body and mind focus hard to get through the rounds. Plus, the strike action is seriously therapeutic, allowing the session to help you shed tensions, burn off energy and flood your system with all those coveted endorphins.
5. Resistance training
Resistance training is a common workout to build strength, change body composition and boost your metabolism. Recently, studies have shown this exercise may be extremely beneficial to those suffering from anxiety. Between the focus on your lifting form, to the execution of complex sequences, to counting and completing pre-determined reps and sets, there isn’t much time for your mind to wander.
As many a lifter will tell you, there’s often a huge sense of accomplishment experienced from learning to, and then successfully lifting heavy weights, giving an extra boost of confidence and self-empowerment when you most need it. Time to go hit a few PB’s!