How mindful exercise can help anxiety 

Anxiety is a very common illness. I have struggled with it in the past and I know lots of people who are currently dealing with it, in fact 1 in 6 adults have a common mental health disorder (statistic from nopanic.org). 

I wanted to write about anxiety today, because in my experience there are ways that you can prevent it or help yourself to overcome it. I have used my yoga and meditation practice to overcome anxiety, and it has worked for me. Obviously I need to write here that everyone is different so it is important to find a method/ meditation that works for you! However I want you to know that if you are suffering from anxiety then it isn’t something that you have to deal with for the rest of your life, it can be overcome!

For me, my anxiety always starts with my thoughts. I find that it is very easy to get caught up in your head. I often don’t realise that the thoughts I am having are making me anxious or stressed. I start believing those thoughts, even though most of them are only imagined scenarios about the future. This easily spirals out of control.. it manifests in my body and I feel sick, this makes my thoughts worse and the pattern continues.

It is essential to be able to recognise when these thought patterns are happening and break the cycle. Exercise is very helpful for this. When we exercise we are able to get out of our head and into our body, escaping the thoughts and reconnecting to the present moment. After we have exercised we feel much better about ourselves and often the thoughts we were having before have disappeared.

My go to exercise for dealing with anxious thoughts is yoga. For me yoga is a very safe space where I can let go of my thoughts and just be present. Nothing else matters when I am on my yoga mat other than my breath and my movements. I often realise after a yoga practice that some of my thoughts are not true, I am simply worrying about things that may or not happen. With this awareness I am able to put my attention somewhere else which is more positive, and this helps reduce the anxiety in my life.

Throughout my life I have loved running. I find that any exercise that gets you outdoors and fresh air into your breath will immediately have a positive impact on how you are feeling. When I run I try to put all my attention on what I am doing: I focus on my feet and my hands and my breath. It can take a while but eventually my thoughts clear and I enter into the present moment.

If you don’t like running, try going for a mindful (this means without your phone!) walk in nature. Spend time away from the busyness of daily life and focus on simple things like the trees or a beautiful sunset. Even taking 5 minutes to do this everyday has a really positive effect on your life. It is a form of meditation and will help quiet an overactive mind, thus reducing thoughts which may be causing you to feel anxious.

Remember that if you do feel anxious, if you put your attention somewhere else it can be very helpful. I know this is hard but the more you practice it the easier it will become. Whatever exercise  you can find which you enjoy I recommend doing it. Focus on that feeling of enjoyment and bring some fun into it. Give yourself space from your anxious thoughts, let yourself have fun in life and simply be in the present moment.

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If you need more help with anxiety, then here are a few links which I have found particularly helpful:

I hope this has been helpful, please let me know if you have any other questions, I would love to help!

Namaste

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