Everyone who has worked out knows the feeling of “I’m going to flee from this gym right now” anxiety. Both seasoned exercisers and novices often experience unexpected anxiety during their workouts.
Some folks at the gym suffer from social anxiety, while others attempt to control their panic attacks by working out. It makes a lot of sense if you consider how exercise alters your body chemistry and the dynamics of group exercise classes.
The finest basis for a stress-free exercise is knowledge of the causes of anxiety and the strategies for overcoming them. Is there any way to stop it, and if so, why does it keep happening?
Let’s plan our approach.
Anxiety and the connection between exercise and mental health
A good workout may do wonders for your mood, but it can also help you develop long-term resistance to stress and anxiety if you make it part of your daily practice. Don’t let that dumbbell slip out of your hands; you’re on the right track.
Working out wakes up your body in an authentic way.
A 2016 research found.
According to Reliable Source, physical activity of moderate to high intensity raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
However, a drop in cortisol after exercise may not help amid stress. These physiological changes are readily misunderstood as anxiousness, creating a vicious cycle of negative emotions.
Onur Bal, a certified psychologist in Istanbul, Turkey, with extensive experience dealing with individuals who suffer from anxiety, argues that the physical sensations of anxiety are similar to what we feel physical while exercising.
“People who suffer anxiety may instinctively perceive these responses as just that — greater anxiety,” since rapid breathing, shortness of breath, a pounding heart or elevated heart rate, muscular tension, or discomfort are all symptoms of anxiety.
Anxiety is a devastating avalanche, as those in the know can attest. If you’re trying to keep your calm on the treadmill and take a deep breath that feels off, you may as well sound the alarm. Although your mind may be able to reason with you, calming your overstimulated body might be challenging.
Feelings of anxiety are more than just a medical condition.
Many people experience anxiety. However, other people only experience it in a mental capacity. For instance, those who suffer from social anxiety often become nervous in group situations.
Bal demonstrates that “social anxiety” is more than just being bashful. A persistent worry makes it difficult for ordinary things like going to the supermarket or class. And working out at fitness centers.”
Going to the gym may be challenging for someone with social anxiety.
- Changing in public locker rooms when feeling incompetent with equipment or under scrutiny from others
- You have a recipe for stress when you add the possibility of crowds, today’s beauty standards, and all the comparisons possible through social media.
- Uncertainty, argues Bal, is critical.
Realize that your body is safe from anxiety’s effects
Anxiety will not directly lead to your death, despite how terrifying panic attacks might seem. Period.
For those still listening: The overwhelming sensation of dread is temporary, no matter how real it may seem.
Bal explains that knowing the bodily manifestations of anxiety may be beneficial. Mindful awareness of physical processes may be relaxing whether you’re preparing for, performing at, or recovering from a workout.
I spent more time than I’d like to admit hunched over in the gym, trying to push away the anxious feelings that would come over me after a particularly challenging session.
Understanding the biochemical basis for anxiety, I could face these feelings more confidently.
As I write this, I realize, “Yeah, I just lifted a big AF weight. Why wouldn’t I feel a bit dizzy?”
Get rid of the guesswork and learn the layout of the facility and all the equipment ahead of time.
Try to avoid being too energized with nowhere to expend it. Learning the gym’s layout in advance will help you feel more confident once you start working up a sweat.
Bal says that if you have any questions regarding the gym, such as where to locate equipment or how to do an activity, you may always contact a member of staff or a trainer.
The less complicated and time-consuming your fitness program is, the better.
Anxiety and unpredictability were linked in a 2013 research (Reliable Suggested Reading), which also called the brain an “anticipation mechanism.” Yes, I’d have to agree with that statement, and I’m sure others would too.
Make it a priority to do your exercise before or after work.
The numerous times I’ve gone to a gym when it was empty and quiet did wonders for my thoughts. If you find large groups of people intimidating or like to exercise in relative anonymity, you may want to consider going to the gym during a less popular time.
This usually implies early or later morning, when most people have left work. Stay between 4 and 7 p.m., when most people leave employment.
Consider going in the middle of the day or just before closing time, when the place will be considerably less crowded, and you may enjoy the machines in peace.
Get some fuel, drink plenty of water, and carry a snack for later.
The food we eat provides energy for our bodies and minds. You can get the most out of your exercise and maintain peak performance if you eat well in the hours leading up to it.
Lightheadedness and shakiness are possible side effects of doing out on an empty stomach, mainly if you lift enormous weights. It’s also normal to feel dizzy after setting a new personal best.
Staying hydrated is also crucial, so pay attention to it. Thirteen hundred persons were surveyed for a 2018 research, and those who drank more water were shown to have reduced rates of anxiety and despair.
Start with a few minutes of meditation.
Listening to a guided meditation on Spotify or even taking a few deep breaths before hitting the gym may help you focus and relax.
When I began working out consistently, I wish someone had explained the importance of 4-7-8 breathing. This breathing exercise’s 4-count inhale, 7-count hold, and 8-count exhale are revolutionary.
An assessment of the literature from 2017 suggests
According to a Reliable Source, systematic breathing techniques are a practical, nonpharmacological remedy for anxiety by rapidly lowering cortisol levels.
Just a few seconds spent practicing breath control may profoundly affect your mental and emotional condition.
When panic attacks strike in the middle of a session, take a trip outside or take a few deep breaths.
If you feel overstimulated when working out, dial down the effort. Try listening to mellower tunes, stretching slowly, or going for a stroll if you’re overwhelmed.
Bal encourages patients to focus on their breathing to feel better. He emphasizes that breathing techniques help calm nerves before and during physical activity.
I’d be able to afford a month’s worth of gym dues if I had a dollar for every time I utilized a breathing exercise to relax in between sets. You can count on this to do the trick.
Whether you practice 4-7-8 breathing, box breathing, or something else entirely, learning to control your breath is a powerful tool for coping with anxiety.
When everything is said and done
Fear may make you feel completely alone, and being surrounded by cold metal machinery and sweaty individuals focused on their tasks will only amplify that feeling.
To keep things in perspective, though, know that anxiousness is quite common.
The effort put into learning about your mind and body might make it much simpler to believe that you’ll be okay despite unpleasant feelings.
Remember that the distress caused by your worry is not proportional to the real threat you face. Yes, you can do this.