No this isn’t about brain teasers and it’s not about priests ridding you of demons. You can literally exercise a lot of your anxiety away by exercising your body.
I did this twice in my life. The first time was in the 90s, when I first was diagnosed with IBS. The panic attacks were becoming unbearable. There was little known about the disorder back then, so you were either given anti-depressants or told “good luck with all that.”
I started running five miles a day. It didn’t take away all the panic attacks, but it did decrease them.
It did something else as well that isn’t talked about as much. It helped me feel like at least one area of my life was under control. Just like when you clean your closet and feel like all is right with the world, even when it definitely is not.
No matter how screwed up you are in your life, there’s always two things the rest of the world respects: fitness and money. Just ask Instagram. Well, I didn’t have money, but the fitter and more in-control I became of my body, the easier social situations became.
These days, I do the stationary bike for 10 miles per day, and it probably takes away 20% of my depression and 5% of my anxiety. It’s not a bad way to spend a half hour. Plus, it’s where I do all my TV/video watching for the day.
I’ve stopped caring about what the world respects, but that’s something that comes with age. It felt vital in my 20s, and sometimes that’s all that matters to your brain. These days, I just want to live a little longer and a little better. Regular, scheduled exercise gets me there.
More on exercise and the brain:
- Psychology Today: Why Exercise Is Good for Your Brain
- Mayo Clinic: Depression and Anxiety: Exercise Eases Symptoms
- Psychology Today: Hunter-gatherer Ancestry May Be Why Our Brains Need Exercise
- Scientific American: How Exercise Affects Your Brain