We live in a sometimes stressful world, with work, family, and financial problems listed as common reasons for extra pressure. But there doesn’t always have to be an obvious cause for stress, and many people have anxiety disorders or panic attacks – even when there seems to be no logical reason for the fearful feelings.
The good news is that in addition to anti-anxiety medications, there are many all-natural ways to reduce the overwhelming, scary feelings stress can cause, with exercise being the most soothing solution for many. Exercise can sometimes even alleviate tension to the point that medication is unnecessary, making it a valuable resource for anyone with anxiety.
Below are 6 easy ways to naturally reduce tension and lessen stress:
1. Find Your Joy—
It doesn’t have to be a strict exercise program, or even anything conventional; just find something you enjoy doing that gets you moving and do it, because any form of exercise reduces stress hormones and increases positive endorphins.
If your idea of a good time is window shopping at your local mall, for example, that works just fine. If it keeps you walking, you’re moving, and if you’re moving, it counts as exercise – no gym required.
Gardening and landscaping is another activity not generally considered traditional exercise that has all of the same benefits as working out in a more structured setting, combined with the calming effect of nature. Keep an open mind, find something you love to do, and leave that sedentary lifestyle behind.
2. Yoga is Calming—
Yoga is the most recommended form of anxiety-reducing exercise because it’s done in a mellow atmosphere in a meditative fashion that seems to soothe most people who participate.
Something about quietly, gently stretching muscles and moving slowly forces our minds to be in the moment, shutting out the worries as we focus on the positions and deep breathing.
Find a class if you like instruction and human interaction, or buy yoga DVDs to do at home if you’re an introvert. No matter how you do it, the tension-relieving benefits will be felt immediately.
3. Martial Arts Can Be Empowering—
For some personality types, calm exercises don’t quite get rid of the tension like a more intense form of exercise, making martial arts training an excellent choice.
People with fearfulness borne from PTSD (or other types of anxiety disorders involving safety issues) who are nervous and jumpy may find martial arts training to be extremely empowering.
Because of this, many realize that by learning to defend themselves in all situations, they feel less afraid and more confident, greatly reducing general anxiety in all areas of life.
4. Weightlifting is Cathartic—
Strength training—especially when it involves using the bigger muscles of the body—can work off major amounts of nervous energy, as well as increasing muscle mass and building bone mineral density.
People with ADHD and anxiety disorders often find great relief in exercises that involve resistance, such as using machines at the gym, elastic bands, squats and lunges with barbell weights, and dumbbells for arm exercises.
In addition to reducing stress hormones and increasing good endorphins, weightlifting can be cathartic because it gives the anxious person an outlet at which to direct their feelings of stress so they can be released in a healthy way.
5. Take a Walk—
It’s estimated that anxiety disorders affect around 40 million people in America, and many studies have been conducted that prove exercise greatly helps relieve stress and depression.
For example, psychiatrists now suggest that taking a 10-minute walk can be as effective at elevating mood and releasing tension as a more strenuous 45-minute workout.
Sometimes a change of venue and a quick stroll through nature, a neighborhood, or your favorite city streets can derail a negative train of thought, setting you on the right track for some fresh air and a new frame of mind.
6. Sneak in Exercise—
If you’re not one for gym workouts, yoga classes or other such formal versions of exercise, don’t forget there are ways to get your body moving that don’t have to make it “official.”
To trick yourself into more motion, start parking the car on the outskirts of parking lots and walking further to businesses you frequent, rather than trying to find the spot closest to the door. Take the stairs at work instead of riding the elevator. Wash your car by hand instead of using the drive-through version.
You get the idea. Take the road less traveled as often as possible, and you’ll be accidentally active and eliminating anxiety before you know it.
Whether you have occasional, situational anxiety, or have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, it’s very apparent that exercise can reduce or eliminate stress for many people, providing relief from tension and worry. If you’re dealing with anxiety, consider adding one of the excellent stress-relieving exercises to your daily regimen to work off nervous energy and soothe your soul.