Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues today with about 18% of the population suffering from some form of anxiety at any given time (Mental Health America, 2015). It’s normal to feel anxious about getting an annual physical or before starting a new job; however, when anxiety becomes excessive and starts affecting your everyday life, it may be time to seek professional help. Fortunately, 4 simple exercises can reduce anxiety at home.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety may be described as a feeling of uneasiness or dread often resulting in physical symptoms such as rapid breathing, increased heart rate, tightness in the chest, trembling hands, and sweaty palms. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety triggers the release of hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Higher amounts of cortisol can cause fatigue, insomnia, depression, appetite changes, or weight gain.
Common symptoms include:
– Palpitations (racing heart)
– Trembling hands
– Feeling lightheaded and dizzy
– Difficulty in breathing, feeling like your throat is closing up, and chest pains
– Nausea and/or abdominal pain that feels like you’re going to vomit or have diarrhea; headaches; irritability
– Anxiety attacks (not the same as panic attacks)
– Feeling that something bad is about to happen, even if you’re not sure what it is
How to Reduce Anxiety at Home through Exercise
The most effective way to reduce anxiety at home is through regular exercise. A health blog post on this website also recommends incorporating CBD into the routine as it also helps reduce the anxiety level. Physical activity is also much better than taking medication; however, keep in mind that exercise cannot replace your doctor’s visit.
The first exercise is breathing techniques. Our breath is something our body does automatically, but it can also be used as a tool to reduce anxiety at home.
– Sit or lie down comfortably.
– Inhale deeply through your nose for the count of five.
– Hold your breath for a few seconds as you relax all those muscles that you tensed when you started to feel anxious.
– Exhale slowly through your mouth making a “whoosh” sound for a count of five.
– Repeat three times.
The breathing technique may immediately make you feel dizzy or lightheaded, but it’s normal and will pass in less than a minute. This exercise can be repeated as often as needed to reduce your anxiety level.
Next, set aside some time each day to worry. Worrying can be helpful because it gives you problem-solving ideas, but worrying all the time leads to more anxiety.
– Schedule “worry time” at least once a day for fifteen minutes.
– During those fifteen minutes write down your worries on paper without stopping or looking back. Keep writing until the fifteen minutes are up or your hand cramps
– Once time is up, stop writing; you do not need to read what you wrote.
– During “worry time” if something occurs that needs immediate attention, take care of it then and there.
Find a physical activity that you enjoy and that does not cause you to feel self-conscious. It’s best to find something that requires movement over a long period of time, such as going on long walks with your dog or playing catch in the park. Exercise daily if possible; if not, exercise at least 3 times a week.
The last technique for reducing anxiety at home is deep breathing. This technique can be done anywhere and anytime you feel anxious.
– Sit or lie down comfortably.
– Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Take long, deep breaths for a count of five.
– Breathe out slowly counting to five.
– Repeat 3 to 5 times.
The purpose of these exercises is to reduce your anxiety level, not cure it completely. In order to have a complete recovery from anxiety, professional help should be sought. These exercises can be used to reduce anxiety in the short term, but should not be used as a replacement for therapy.