Use consistent cardiac movement (walking, running, biking) as a time to think about things that make you anxious and use the physical exertion to trick your body into thinking that the anxiety symptoms (increased heart rate, breathing, etc.) are a result of physical, not mental activity. (A)
I am not personally a fan of running long distance. However, I have found biking and walking to be very helpful as relaxation techniques when I am anxious. When I had panic attacks in the past (increased heart rate, labored breathing, chest pains, shakiness, etc.) I would sit in one place and implode or pace in little circles. The longer I remained in one place, the more anxious I became. One of the doctors that I went to suggested that I go for a brisk walk instead. He said that since my body would naturally have a higher heart rate and quicker breathing when doing cardiac exercise, moving would help me calm down subconciously because my body would start to think “Oh, that’s why I am reacting this way – because I am exerting myself’”. This has been one of the most effective things that I have done for this condition. (Plus that, no one wants to sit there and hang out with someone who is freaking out for no good reason.)
Not only that, but as everyone knows, regular cardiac activity gets you in better shape. Being in better physical health increases your self esteem and confidence as well as helping you have more energy and sleep better. What is there to lose?
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I haven’t had a severe panic attack in quite some time. However, I have still had periods, as everyone does, of dealing with ongoing situations that were very mentally and emotionally stressful. When a long term relationship was distentegrating I began riding my bike to work. This helped keep me stable at work because I could work off some of that negative energy before I got to my job. I felt satisfaction that there was one thing in my control that was doing several good things: saving money on public transportation, being good to my body, being disciplined enough to take action, and being environmentally friendly. Once again, what was there to lose?
The city I am in now unfortunately has long winters and so I don’t ride my bike year round (there are hard core cyclists who do, but I am kind of a wimp when it comes to cold). However, every summer, I get excited about the thought of those long rides to work. It’s about 10 miles, so it takes a little while, but I can ride along the lakefront with the sun rising over the water and it is beautiful! That first ride of the season is challenging, especially when I haven’t gotten much activity over the winter, but once I get back into the swing of things I feel SOOOOOOOO much better!
I am going to take my first ride of the season tomorrow. It’s been a little chilly, but it’s been sunny, so no more excuses! I am going out to build my body and my mind, to practice my willpower, to enjoy the glorious sunrise, to melt away my cares. See you on the road!