Stressed? Anxious? Do This Now!
Move Your Body
Our bodies are designed to move. It expands, contracts and pulsates. When we’re stressed and anxious, our bodies contract more than we expand; we tighten up and get smaller. It’s part of our built in Safety System – the Fight or Flight part.
The best way to help with anxiety is to move (no I’m not debunking meds) is to go for a walk, climb stairs, ride your bike, run, skate, dance, yoga, box, shake with TRE® anything to help get the stress chemicals up and out. If the stress chemical stay stuck in your body or pile up too much, things go south when you least expect it and that sucks.
I’ve been using exercise as a tool to manage my anxiety and depression, my mental health (not heal the underlying issues) for over 30 years. Given how shitty I felt in my skin growing up, more often than not, I’m amazed that I am where I am today and I chalk it up to discovering aerobics in the 80s and m introduction to endorphins. My daily anxiety decreases almost immediately when I get my heart rate up and keep it up for atleast 20 minutes.
The research that proves that exercise is great for our mental health and wellness is growing. Neuroscience News May 23, 2019, “Exercise is the new primary prescription for those with mental health problems” (I really have a problem with the word “problems”…but that’s just me) is just one of a ton of articles from evidence based entities that prove this.
So go out and move, sweat and have fun!
Also, hugely important. When we’re anxious and going up what I call the Stress Scale (Stress Scale post coming soon) one of the most common things we do (without awareness) is hold our breath. Or we inhale and don’t consciously exhale.
Exhale on Purpose
Try it next time you feel really stressed. Check to see if you’re holding your breath. Then EXHALE on purpose. Check in with you and see if you notice a difference. Difference being, is your heart rate down, can you take a slow inhale and an even slower longer exhale, does it feel like you’re still spinning inside, do you feel more in your body and less in your head? If yes, that’s a win!
Better yet, practice breathing on purpose when your alone. Do this…Inhale and then exhale and make the “ahhh” sound out loud or as some call it, an audible sigh. If this weirds you out practice it in the bathroom when your alone or in the shower. It can feel weird in the beginning. My students always laugh when I say “Breathe on purpose and by that I mean exhale”. It feels really good and once you do it a few times it won’t seem so weird.
There’s a million different styles of breathwork to practice. Find one that works for you and practice it daily. Best time to do it? When you wake up, before life, kids, work, things and people need you.
Case in point. If you’ve seen Date Night with Tina Fey and Steve Carrell, there’s a scene when they are talking about a massively stressful event they just experienced. Carell says to Fey, “Are you breathing, and she says, “Yes, but only in.” I freakin’ love this. Proves my point in a fun way about holding our breath when stressed. It says it all and my students and I laugh about this all the time.
So go, move your body and breath on purpose so you can go slay the world! It’s the best self-care, stress management and mental wellness practice gift you can give yourself.
Oh and remember the fight or flight mentioned above? Your exhale moves you into rest and digest automatically, where all of us need to be right now.Cool huh!