Every one of us experiences anxiety. Whether we worry about our children, feel nervous about a job interview, or fret about the state of the world, anxiety is a necessary aspect of being human.
Anxiety helps protect us from threats, and in most cases, it’s not something you want to eliminate.
However, anxiety disorder is another thing entirely. This occurs when our body enters the “fight or flight” mode, and despite every reason to feel safe and relaxed, we continue to worry – and worry about why we’re worried – on and on until it becomes unmanageable.
The good news is that, regardless of whether you experience occasional anxiety or chronic anxiety disorder, exercise can help. Here’s how.
Benefits of Fitness for Anxiety
The benefits of fitness for anxiety include:
- Diverting your attention away from worry
- Reducing muscle tension which is related to anxiety
- Producing “feel good” hormones like serotonin
- Proving to ourselves that we can do hard things
Various studies show that regular aerobic exercise is related to reduced sympathetic nervous system and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis reactivity. This is a fancy way of saying that exercise can reduce how often your body is in that “fight or flight” mode.
Plus, other studies have shown that regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing anxiety by around 60%.
In short, there’s compelling evidence to suggest that exercise can improve symptoms of anxiety, meaning that exercise isn’t just something you do to stay physically fit – it keeps you mentally fit as well.
How to Build Confidence with Fitness
Oftentimes, building confidence is an antidote to anxiety.
And while all of your anxious thoughts and feelings won’t go away forever (again, anxiety is a normal and essential emotional state), building confidence through health and fitness is a solid place to start if you suffer from debilitating anxiety.
Show Up for Yourself
There’s something incredibly powerful about showing up for yourself and doing what you say you’ll do. When you say you’ll do something and you don’t do it, this creates cognitive dissonance and can really mess with your mental health.
So, step one to building confidence and relieving anxiety symptoms is to simply show up for yourself.
Reframe Your Mindset
Another way to build confidence through fitness is to reframe your mindset. By using mindfulness and challenging your preconceived notions about yourself, you can rewrite your story and rewire your thought patterns.
For example, instead of telling yourself repeatedly that nothing ever works out for you or that you don’t deserve the life you want, flip the script and imagine what would happen if everything did work out in the end.
What if you truly believed that life is pushing you to the limit to show you that there’s something even greater on the other side?
Watch Yourself Transform
Finally, there’s nothing quite like seeing the fruits of your labor and watching yourself transform over time. Of course, we’re not talking about quick fixes or instant results – after all, nothing comes easy if it’s truly worth it. But, if you put in the work, you will see things start to shift.
Not only is it encouraging to see your body becoming stronger and more mobile, but it’s truly life-changing to notice that you’re kinder to yourself and more accountable to your own goals.
If you suffer from chronic anxiety or you find yourself dealing with intrusive thoughts about things not going your way, see what happens when you say yes to the challenge. You might find that your ultimate transformation is waiting for you to get started.
How to Live with More OOMPH
What do we mean when we say living with more OOMPH? Well… what does it mean to you?
OOMPH evokes words like power, spunk, fervor, and zest for life. It means giving something all you’ve got and pushing outside your comfort zone to see what’s on the other side.
When you’re feeling crippled by anxiety, the thought of living with more OOMPH might scare you. But in reality, it might be exactly what you need to come out stronger.
So, even if you don’t want to and even if you don’t feel like it, living with more OOMPH and taking your fitness seriously is one of the best things you can do to relieve yourself of anxiety and start living again.