I was awakened by butterflies. But instead of being in some enchanted land with fluttering fairies and surreal colors, I stared up at my ceiling and was worrying about money again. My old friend Anxiety had returned. He came back into my world and as usual, didn’t even bother knocking…
My breathing had become short. I had to sit up and used the momentum to swing out of bed and get ready to face the day. God, was it really only Wednesday?
No matter. I went down to the floor, assumed the push up position, and proceeded to bang out push-ups. 10-20-30, not stopping for a break until I reached 50. The butterflies weren’t all the way gone yet, but would soon be like crushed dead leaves in the palm of my hand, before they could molt into a full-blown anxiety attack.
Since I know I’m not the only one to have suffered from anxiety, I wanted to share the one thing that has always helped me, which has been to use fitness for anxiety relief. As simplistic as that may seem, it’s sometimes the most simple, fundamental things in life that still work best. And therefore, it sometimes bears reminding.
So get up, get going, and keep moving. It’s kind of like being in a war zone. You don’t want to make yourself a sitting duck, so you have to keep moving! Here are my top 5 exercises for natural anxiety relief:
- Push-ups. Do as many as you can in one minute. Don’t worry (ha-ha!) about how many you can do or not do. Your goal is to just get going and slowly improve, but doing more each time. You’ll be surprised by how fast you’ll improve.
- Sit-ups. They’re not just for sexy abs any more! Tell that especially to the person suffering from anxiety in the pit of his stomach. The goal here is the same as push-ups; just do as many as you can in sixty seconds. This is a great exercise for getting rid of butterflies and yes, it will help give you sexy abs, if you eat right too.
- Pull-ups. This one may be the hardest for some people, especially if you don’t have access to a chin up bar, but you can buy an over-the-door model, bolt one to the wall, beam/rafter in the garage, or even just use a tree branch in the yard or nearby park. Do as many as you can. Even if it’s only 1 rep and then try for 2 next time and so on. This is another exercise where you will improve rapidly if you just keep at it.
- Air Squats or Deep Knee Bends. Simply bend down until your thighs are at a complete 90 degree parallel to the floor while keeping your back as straight as possible. You can throw your arms out in front of you to help keep your balance and momentum going. Again, do as many as you can in a minute.
- Jogging or Running. I realize not everyone can lace up their running shoes and go run for a few miles, but if you can, go for it. If not, that’s fine too, but get out there and walk at a brisk pace to get your heart rate up, thereby strengthening your cardiovascular system. Fresh air is best, so get outside if you can. Even if it’s raining. Embrace it!
You’ll notice that none of these exercises require a fancy gym and that’s the point. You don’t need to spend money for anxiety relief! It can be attained naturally, with a little effort, but once you get going, you will feel better. To your health and success!