I love reading information about how to reduce stress and especially anxiety. Over the years many of my clients of all ages have been afflicted with ongoing anxiety. Once starting a regular and somewhat vigorous exercise program almost all have forgotten about the anxiety they once had. It's like holding a race horse back at the gate while the rest run. We are built the same way. Our body is designed to move and work hard. Positive mental neurotransmitters boost and balance with regular exercise, hard earned accomplishments and tapping into our creative side. At first one might feel too exhausted to move or do anything or even think about anything, but once moving and doing you'll notice that little by little feelings of being tired will diminish and things will start to look up.
Also, self talk is a destroyer or a builder. Self talk always seems to stem around what we think other people think of us and then we dwell and dwell and try to fix. An advantage to getting older is the wisdom in realizing that when we think no one is talking about us they might actually be and when we think everyone is talking about us they probably aren't. So, the fact that we don't know or at least we don't think along those lines then we don't stress on it. It's like if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it did it really fall. I kind of look at that whole aspect of "what others think" in the same context. We can't possibly fix, explain, or respond to every negative or positive that comes our way so why keep thinking about it creating more stress and anxiety. Most of us are naturally good and there are always going to be others with the same or worse crap and those that are smarter, prettier, more athletic, with more money and so on. Most of us move through life with the best intentions so a few misunderstood words, stupid things or actions is not to stress over or worry about and it all evens out in the wash anyway. Most of us don't remember about others short falls only our own.
Of course there are many things to really stress over or be sad about. Talking to ourselves as we were our own best friend giving advise usually works little by little. Being patient and understanding of ourselves and others is key. Most of all know when to walk away from people and situations that do not serve our highest interest and self love. Understand too that negative people and actions are from people hurting the most and it's not our job to fix it.
I have definitely experienced extreme stressful and sad situations in my own life that have brought me lack of sleep and anxiety. When the weekends came it was worse because I exercised less and my mind would dwell more. When the work week came I was forced to exercise and focus on others and not myself, because it is part of being a fitness instructor / trainer, and I noticed things were better. I also got focused on accomplishing things I may have put on the back burner and that too helped. Relaxing is what I felt like doing but once I forced myself to get going my mind and nerves were happy and relaxed and I slept much better too.
Read the rest from the pros- Anxiety and Depression Association of America... The physical benefits of exercise — improving physical condition and fighting disease — have long been established, and physicians always encourage staying physically active.
Exercise is also considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.
When stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. Or, if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins — chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers — and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. About five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.
Relationship of Exercise to Anxiety Disorders
Stress and anxiety are a normal part of life, but anxiety disorders, which affect 40 million adults, are the most common psychiatric illnesses in the U.S. The benefits of exercise may well extend beyond stress relief to improving anxiety and related disorders.
Psychologists studying how exercise relieves anxiety and depression suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout. Some studies show that exercise can work quickly to elevate depressed mood in many people. Although the effects may be temporary, they demonstrate that a brisk walk or other simple activity can deliver several hours of relief, similar to taking an aspirin for a headache.
Science has also provided some evidence that physically active people have lower rates of anxiety and depression than sedentary people. Exercise may improve mental health by helping the brain cope better with stress. In one study, researchers found that those who got regular vigorous exercise were 25 percent less likely to develop depression or an anxiety disorder over the next five years.
Exercise as Part of Therapy
According to some studies, regular exercise works as well as medication for some people to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and the effects can be long lasting. One vigorous exercise session can help alleviate symptoms for hours, and a regular schedule may significantly reduce them over time.
Although exercise has a positive effect for most people, some recent studies show that for some, exercise may not have a positive effect on anxiety or depression or may not make a strong impact on long-term mental health.
Like all forms of therapy, the effect can vary: Some people may respond positively, others may find it doesn’t improve their mood much, and some may experience only a modest short-term benefit. Nonetheless, researchers say that the beneficial effects of exercise on physical health are not in dispute, and people should be encouraged to stay physically active.
Read all about it: Exercise for Mood and Anxiety, Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-Being, by Michael W. Otto, PhD, and Jasper A.J. Smits, PhD (Oxford University Press, 2011)