As someone who has dealt with anxiety and depression for a long time, I often found myself browsing the internet, searching for advice on how to overcome those daunting obstacles. I frequently came across advice to eat right and exercise as a way to reduce depression and anxiety, but I always dismissed it. I doubted anything a severe as my panic attacks would subside with a little exercise. Surely the answer was to correct the destructive thought patterns causing the anxiety in the first place?
As I rooted around, trying to analyze why I was anxious, what the triggers were, how to stop it, I realized all the focus on analyzing my anxiety was . . . well . . . making me anxious. Increased anxiety also meant increased panic attacks. Desperate, I took a friend’s advice, and when I felt a panic attack coming on, I found a fun song on YouTube and began to dance. Within a few minutes, the panic attack subsided, and this lead me to wondering whether or not getting my body moving might reduce my anxiety. I was looking to become more healthy overall, so, focusing mainly on the physical benefits, I started a 4-week exercise program.
Almost immediately, my anxiety began to clear. As little as 15-30 minutes of exercise 4 days a week had me experiencing almost 0 panic attacks!
I still struggle with anxiety—exercise is not a “magic pill”—but the benefits have been so amazing, I would keep exercising even if there were 0 other physical benefits. If you experience frequent anxiety or depression, I encourage giving this a try. It could be as simple as dancing to a song you enjoy, jumping rope, or following a YouTube exercise routine. I highly recommend Jessica Smith TV. She provides a variety of workout styles (barre, cardio, dance, strength, flexibility routines, stretching, yoga, interval training, walking) and lengths (anywhere from 10 minutes to over 1 hour). Assisted by her trusty dog, Peanut, her motto is to take tiny steps in the right direction, and her videos are geared toward allowing people to go at their own pace (perfect for someone struggling with the limited “leftover” energy anxiety and depression allow for).
Challenge!: Three days this week, choose to do 10 minutes of exercise. It could be dancing, following a workout routine, walking the dog, or even just a soothing stretching session. Note how you feel before and after.
P.S. As for the “eating healthy” part, I’m still trying to convince my sweet tooth to give it a try! Baby steps, right?