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Physical Exercise to Curb Anxiety

One of the most powerful methods for reducing generalized anxiety is a program of regular vigorous exercise. Exercise is a natural outlet for your body when it is in the fight or flight mode of arousal. In this end, it also has the propensity to reduce and even elminate panic attacks in many people with this disorder.

Regular exercise has a direct impact on several physiological factors that lead to anxiety.

It brings about:

  • Reduced skeletal muscle tension. Reduces a feeling of being tense or uptight.
  • More rapid metabolism of excess adrenaline and thyroxine in the bloodstream, the presence of which tends to keep you in a state of arousal and vigilance.
  • A discharge of pent-up frustration, which can aggravate phobic or panic reations.
  • Stimulation of the production of endorphins. Endorphins are natural substances which resemble morphine both chemically and in their effects: endorphins increase your sense of well-being.
  • Decreased blood pressure.
  • Increased self-esteem and confidence in your physical appearance.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an effective tool that is generally accepted and used amongst mental health care professionals. CBT can help you overcome negative perceptions of a given subject and reinforce positive ideas behind them. Having the ability to utilize this will help you break negative habits that are getting in the way of your fitness goals and well-being.

Example of a negative thought- I’m too tired after work to exercise. I’ll get around to it when I have more time. 

Switching to a positive thought-  If I workout tonight and keep a regular routine I’ll have more energy in the future to be able to be more productive in the evenings.

Try writing down some of your own detrimental or negative beliefs on a given subject and come up with ways to switch them to positive and productive beliefs.

Look up The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne PHD and Mind Over Mood by Dennis Greenberger and Christine Padesky.

Partial excerpts in this article were taken from The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook.

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