Managing Anxiety & Over-training the Brain

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I wanted to attack the concept of anxiety from a different angle, a more scientific one to help us understand the mechanisms behind it.

I am firm advocate of education; I believe that if you can teach and explain something well people will be better able to self regulate better. From my own experiences this is far more resourceful than telling you what to do.

I also believe education should be free – so here I am.

Being Aware of Anxiety

A huge reason anxiety negatively effects our emotional, physical and mental health is when we are unaware. Having an awareness of the bodily sensations you feel when anxiety presents itself is critical.

Speaking now from my experience, the act of being mindful when I feel clammy or get heat flushes, irritable, heart palpitations, nausea and overall nervous energy is the always the first step towards mastering anxious behaviour.

What’s interesting about these symptoms is that they are unconscious. We don’t make the decision to feel these things; yet they appear in the body as a by product of the anxious thoughts we harbour.

Recognising this concept provides a solid foundation for the principle I’m going to share with you about managing anxiety.

So I’ll reiterate – anxious sensations are unconscious physical symptoms created in your head. It might be helpful to think of this as a cup filled with water, spilling over if can affect different areas of your biology. The nervous energy has no where else to manifest itself but in the body.

The Body is the Mind

So, we’re feeling the physical reactions from these anxious thoughts, and this is actually a good thing. The body is communicating the point I’m trying to make here.

Let’s talk about muscles for a moment. Here is the brief but scientifically validated idea behind basic muscle building and strength.

First we work the muscle through movement. You might 10 dumbbell curls for your biceps. You rest a minute, then you proceed to do another 10. You might repeat this for 4 sets.

After the session is over you go back home and rest. You cease movement of that muscle so recovery can take place. Because when you concentrate all your attention on that particular muscle you stress it and actually proceed to damage it.

You are the weakest and most vulnerable after a workout. It is only when you supplement your muscles with adequate rest, do then come to a point whereby you were stronger than before.

The body is the mind and the mind is a muscle.

When you are harbouring anxious thoughts you are stressing the mind, you are giving the mind a workout. When overthinking gets too intense, it shows up in your body because the mind is trying to shift some of the load onto your muscles, you might experience trembling or nervous twitching.

The Simple Solution

Here is the crux of my point. In order to rest the muscle that is the mind, we need to move the body.

If you just watch and observe what happens in your physiology when you get anxious it is obvious. The body wants to move, all that pent us nervous energy starts to leak out in different ways.

In my experience having a routine exercise schedule allows me to mitigate the stress in my mind through the body. Exercise acts that the rest period for the muscle that is the mind.

You do not need to think when you are exercising or moving your body intensely enough.

Lifting weights, swimming, running, dancing, bouldering, even playing the drums can be intense.

When anxious thoughts presents in you, watch what happens in your body and then let the body lead you in the direction of movement.

Give that brain of yours a rest.

If you liked this I invite you to subscribe to my YouTube Channel!

Grateful for your presence,

Joseph

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Clinical Exercise Scientist

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