Exercising With Anxiety
It’s the time of year where everyone is beginning to think about their New Year’s resolutions. If you ask most people, they would probably tell you that eating healthier and exercising more are on their list. This is exciting to me because I LOVE helping women develop a health and fitness plan. I enjoy educating women on how to make reasonable goals and teaching them what habits to implement to achieve those goals. I am overwhelmed with joy when I get to see the results of hard work. It’s even more exciting when I’ve been invited along for that journey.
Starting a new exercise plan can be daunting, especially if you have a family and a career to balance. It can be even more daunting when you’re struggling with anxiety. Yes, anxiety.
We. Are. Going. There. Today.
We are opening up this messy can of worms. This disorder is so often swept under the rug and not talked about more than a sarcastic joke thrown around during the Holidays. And, I want to put an end to that.
Panic, worry and anxiety affect over 20 million people, and the physical symptoms can be debilitating leaving you feeling helpless. Women are affected by anxiety in varying degrees.
-Worry can consume your thoughts making it hard to concentrate and accomplish simple tasks.
-Mild anxiety can creep in and actually cause some physical symptoms such as a racing heart and the jitters. This type of anxiety can be very normal when you’re doing something that makes you nervous such as public speaking or skydiving.
-It can also become chronic and interrupt your life on a daily basis making you feel like a prisoner in your own body.
-Panic is the worst. The attacks can become physically incapacitating leaving you with no motivation to even leave your own home.
Sometimes you can avoid the situations that bring about a panic attack. Other times it just comes without warning. Your friends and family may struggle to understand and with good intentions they have probably offered horrible advice. Today I want to offer you some encouragement. I want to help you make 2016 your best year yet by being proactive and developing a plan that fits your life. It’s time to stop letting anxiety rob you of your joy and your health. It’s time to take back your life and accomplish your goals. Together, we are going to walk through the steps to help create a plan that’s perfect for you and your anxiety symptoms. There will be no condemning, no shame, no judgment and no expectations. Go ahead and grab a notebook and let’s start making this plan together.
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1. Get your doctors permission
You always want to check with your doctor before starting any type of exercise routine. This is especially important if you have a diagnosed anxiety condition or feel any type of physical symptoms from your anxiety.
ACTION: Make an appointment with your primary care doctor. Sometimes you can even do a phone consult or online visit. Ask your doctor if there is anything you should avoid doing and any symptoms that you should look out for. If you’ve never told your doctor about your anxiety symptoms, now is the perfect time.
I truly believe that God is the greatest doctor, healer, and counselor of all. I believe that everything should begin and end in prayer. He already knows your struggles and He is right next to you with every shallow breath and racing thought. But, He wants you to come to Him with those struggles. He wants to hear you cry out. He wants you to seek Him continuously throughout the storm and throughout the calm.
ACTION: Find a verse. Find your verse. The verse that speaks to you when you can barely breathe. The verse that you know was written for you. Etch that verse into your heart so you can hang onto every word of it during the tough times. Philippians 4:13 is one of my verses. “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”
3. Create a goal
Having the desire to lose weight, eat healthier, workout more and get stronger are all positive ambitions. But, they are not goals. How will you ever know when you reach any of your goals if they aren’t measurable? Your goal will also depend on how you are specifically struggling with anxiety. A really good goal will be measurable, achievable, and realistic. Here are some sample goals: Exercise at home 20 minutes per day, 3 times per week, Run a mile in under 12 minutes by March 1st, Practice breathing exercises for 5 minutes every day, Lose 15 pounds in 8 weeks.
ACTION: Grab your notebook and create your goal. It doesn’t have to be a huge goal, but you need to have a goal in order to stay motivated. Do you need some help talking through your goal? I’d be happy to set up a coaching call with you.
4. Design your workout
I totally get the fact that going to a gym is not an option for many of you. Social anxiety and panic in public places is an exhausting condition to have and I empathize with you. So, we will be covering several different options for locations and types of workouts.
1.Work out at home
There are dozens of options for working out at home. You can buy, rent or download workouts.
- Beachbody now offers a streaming option for their most popular workout programs. They also offer a 30-day free trial, check it out here.
- YouTube features thousands of free workout videos. Try some different searches in YouTube to find the videos that are right for you.
- Make a trip to your local library and check out some exercise videos.
- Download an app to your phone. Some great workout apps are The Daily Burn, 7 Minute Workout, Johnson & Johnson and many others.
2. Hire a personal trainer
I happen to know a very good trainer that offers in home and online training programs. You can check out her packages here. You can also search for trainers in your area through IdeaFit. Check out these tips before you hire any trainer.
3. Join a gym
If you are comfortable in public places then maybe a gym membership is an option for you. There are dozens of affordable gyms open 24 hours per day. There are also gyms that offer small group style training such as 9 Round, Orange Shoe and Orange Theory.
ACTION: Choose your workout location and your type of workout.
5. Find a partner
This can be a workout partner or an accountability partner. You will be so much more successful when there is someone else cheering you on and encouraging you to keep going. I also strongly suggest that you let this partner know about your struggles with anxiety. It can feel embarrassing to disclose this information, but if you find a partner you can trust I assure you it will be worth it.
ACTION: Choose your partner and tell them how they can help motivate you
6. Practice Breathing
Breathing is so important when you are dealing with symptoms of anxiety. If you haven’t learned how to breathe properly yet, I encourage you to start practicing because it will be an essential part of your workouts. You will need to know how to breathe properly if you have an attack while exercising as well as during times when your heart rate gets really high and during the cool down portion of your workout.
- Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds making sure to fill your belly up with air first. Your belly should distend and your chest should stay still.
- Hold the breath for up to 4 seconds.
- Breathe out through your mouth slowly for a count of 4 seconds.
ACTION: Practice this type of breathing or any other types that help to calm you down during an anxiety attack.
Living with anxiety is not fun, but it doesn’t have to stop you from achieving your goals. I want to see you succeed. I want to see you take back your life instead of letting the anxiety take over. Together we can make this happen. Once you create your plan I would love to know what it is and I would love to be part of your cheering squad. Keep me posted at Kristen@kristenekiss.com or send me a message through Facebook www.facebook.com/kristenekissministries
Great! I particularly like the part about working out at home! lol. I agree about the breathing too. I think people underestimate the importance of learning good breathing. I remember when I would go to the gym and run daily and only make it less than 20 minutes on the treadmill and didn’t understand why. It wasn’t until I learned how to breath, and was consistent even though the workout was becoming more strenuous, was I able to run as long as I wanted.
Thanks for sharing Jessica! Breathing is so important in all aspects of our lives.