The Only Workout You Need To Beat Anxiety

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Anxiety can be overwhelming — and much longer-lasting than regular stress. It can gnaw at you so incessantly you feel as though you are being eaten alive.

I’ve found that when I’m experiencing life through the lens of anxiety, everything is heightened — and not in a good way. One momentary failure can suddenly equate to a failed life. I didn’t fail just one test — I’ve been bad at tests since I was born and I’ll never pass another one. One success plus a hungry ego can get me attached to future anxieties: A simple mental image of me getting married can quickly raise questions like, “When are we going to have kids? How can we afford them? What if I have problems with my pregnancy? What if our baby gets sick?"

To soothe anxiety and feel supported, this one-two punch emotional/physical workout helps me every time. When you’re really anxious, all you can do is focus on the situation that you fear and imagine it spiraling out of control, right? The goal of this workout is to move your heightened anxiety into a place where the worries can be flatlined, then neutralized. Check it out below:

Step 1: Own your mood.

What exactly has got you feeling anxious? What’s that one thought you keep coming back to? Identify and acknowledge it.

Some common anxious thoughts:

  • This headache won’t go away. What if it never goes away? What if I have a brain tumor?
  • How am I going to get pregnant? We’ve been trying for so long and I’m getting old.
  • I think my new boss hates me. Please, oh please, don’t let me get fired.
  • What will happen if we get divorced?
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Step 2: Connect the emotional to the physical.

How is your anxiety manifesting in your physical body? Bring your awareness to your body, recognizing how your anxiety is manifesting in your body. Common physical symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Acid reflux
  • Heavy or rapid breathing
  • Heartburn
  • Jitters
  • Clenched jaw
  • Teeth grinding

Step 3: Don’t magnify success or failure. Just let them be what they are.

Even though we are often taught to regard success and failure as opposites, when we magnify them, we get attached to the outcome, though either can bring destructive emotions. This is where anxiety comes into play. You could feel that you will never fail or that you will never succeed and be surprisingly unprepared for both. More than anything, you might feel anxious because of your attachment to both real and hypothetical outcomes.

Convert your anxiety diet of fear and panic to one of focus and perspective. Repeat “don’t magnify success or failure” as a mantra, as many times as you need to. Commit to a balanced and focused workout.

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Related Class

Step 4: Try the Plank Balance Series and Forearm Plank Balance Series.

The flow of this exercise series is designed to keep you in constant motion as a way of focusing you on something other than your anxiety. You will be challenged in concentration, coordination, and balance — all working together to keep you focused on anything other than what's stressing you out. This will ultimately leave you feeling energized, calmer, and more centered.

Embrace your mood, reflect on the mantra, and create a true mind/body connection that channels your adrenaline into physical exertion and reshapes your tower of fear into a field of calm.

Here's how to do the Plank Balance Series:

Exercise Intention: “Practice makes perfect, and this gets better with practice.”

Begin in plank position with your hands underneath your shoulders, palms flat and fingertips spread. Keep your feet hip-width apart. Straighten your legs. Tip your heels forward, as if you are stretching your feet and your body is about to take off. Level your hips and keep your back flat. Tighten your abs by pulling your bellybutton in toward your spine. Tuck your hips slightly so your back feels protected. Keep your chest open, with your shoulders back and down, away from your ears. Your head should be in line with your spine. Focus on the floor. Your entire body should feel solid, as though you’re stuck in a tube.

SERIES:

10-second hold

10-second hold, right leg (Lift up only your right leg.)

10-second hold, left leg (Lift up only your left leg.)

10-second hold, right arm (Lift up only your right arm.)

10-second hold, left arm (Lift up only your left arm.)

10-second hold, right leg/left arm (Lift up both your right leg and left arm.)

10-second hold, left leg/right arm (Lift up both your left leg and right arm.)

10-second hold (original plank position)

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Here's how to do the Forearm Plank Balance Series:

Exercise Intention: “My concentration will help me get balanced.”

Begin by lying on your stomach, propped on your forearms. Your elbows should be in line with your shoulders. Keep your arms parallel, with your palms flat and fingertips spread. Keep your feet hip-width apart. Curl your toes under. By pressing into your forearms and toes, lift your entire body off the floor. Level and adjust your hips to be in line with your shoulders, creating a flat back. Keep your legs straight. Tighten your abs by pulling your bellybutton in toward your spine. Tuck your hips slightly so your back feels protected. Keep your chest open, with your shoulders back and down, away from your ears. Your head should be in line with your spine. Focus on the floor. Your entire body should feel solid, as though you’re stuck in a tube.

Repeat the same series of holds as in the original plank series, but remain on your forearm(s) the entire time. Sequence is repeated below.

10-second hold

10-second hold, right leg (Lift up only your right leg.)

10-second hold, left leg (Lift up only your left leg.)

10-second hold, right arm (Lift up only your right arm.)

10-second hold, left arm (Lift up only your left arm.)

10-second hold, right leg/left arm (Lift up both your right leg and left arm.)

10-second hold, left leg/right arm (Lift up both your left leg and right arm.)

10-second hold (original forearm plank position)

Related Reads:

Rupa Mehta is the author of The Nalini Method: 7 Workouts for 7 Moods, a book that helps you #ownyourmood and transform your body and mind. Click here to learn more about Rupa’s wellness philosophy and get a special bonus when you buy the book.

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