If there is one landmark moment that led to my current healthy, fit, and mindful life… it was 100%, my downfall and battle with anxiety.
Anxiety is a tough state and dealing with it both personally and extraneously can be really hard. Yes, you can try reassurance; “thinking happy thoughts” or “saying you will be fine” can only get you so far. And for the person in the anxiety state, this could possibly make it worse!
Before I continue, I’ll give you a little background on why I feel that I can help you use health and fitness to get rid of your anxiety.
My Battle: The Hardest One to DateMy anxiety started when I was 15, sophomore year in high school. I had moved the previous year and started high school where I knew very few people. I made little effort to make new friends, lost touch with my old friends and became somewhat of a loner.
I had injured my arm in football during middle school, and was not interested in other sports, so my love of video games and TV soon became the only things to do.
My after school routine was to catch up on TV shows, play video games, while devouring a family size bag of potato chips, soda, and copious amounts of Cheez-Its (please don’t ask.)
This led to my hefty state of 180 pounds. I know it is not drastic but look at the picture below:
It’s not a pretty sight, is it?
I lived my life through video games and TV and thought that vicarious nature could keep me content for well… as long as I could do it.
Although, like any wise person could anticipate… it did not last long and I found myself in a well of anxiety. I was trapped with no rope, ladder or any means to climb to my freedom.
This was my lowest point, the one where it seems implausible that times ever can get better.
To sum up my anxiety symptoms here’s a quick list:
I could not allow the radio volume to be on an odd number, fearing something bad would happen.
The dark TV shows I was watching after school and before bed, caused me to be paranoid that I was going to become the thief, murderer, rapist or whatever else was in the that episode.
I became superstitious. On a drive up north I caught a glimpse of a highway exit sign and predicted that something bad would happen to me at that time during the day. My anxiety got so bad that I had trouble sleeping at night and even experienced a few panic attacks.
The Secret Ingredient: MeditationUltimately, one of the best things that I learned to perform in order to ground myself during rough patches, anxiety attacks, or just on a regular basis is meditation.
It is a great tool for calming the mind and getting rid of the anxious state that arises in you.
A simple, yet easy strategy, is to focus on two senses. Just two.
You can be anywhere or do this anytime, it doesn’t matter. All you need to do is focus on two different senses.
Believe it or not, this can actually calm your mind.
I typically focus on:
(1) Feeling (the wind on my skin or the coolness of the air) and (2) Hearing (the peaceful sounds around me).The focus is so intense to actually be present in your surroundings that you can’t think and instead you just feel. Eventually, you feel as though you are at peace and then the anxiety simply slips away.
Your Action Plan for Crushing AnxietyThe next thing you need to do is get off your feet and go out there and get started (if you haven’t already)!
First things first, start with a current “before” picture.
While you may fear it will remind you of your anxiety and bring back your fears, it will become your fuel to help you reach a healthy, fit, anxiety-less state of being.
Here’s my “after” picture from a couple of months ago:
Looks a little different right?
Not only did I become more fit, but I became in tune with my body which is the next step for you.
Start realizing what triggers your anxiety, is it a certain situation, type of food (and yes it seriously can be), even homework?
Start writing down the experience and a while later, use it to connect the dots into the hidden reason behind many of your anxiety episodes.
Trent here at GTM fitness has a great program that helps you transform your physique. As the comments flow in like, “wow you look amazing” or “hey can I have your #?” your confidence will hit its peak.
Eating healthier and going to the gym will become an embodiment of your new life, one free of anxiety and only on the up and up.
When the Body Is In Shape The Mind Falls In Line
Ultimately, your mind will become gradually stronger as your body does and in the end you will have that ladder, rope or the ability to physically climb out of the well that you felt oh so trapped in previously.
Austin Floyd is the creator of Mindful Lifestyle, a health centric blog dedicated to increasing quality of life through health, fitness, and mindfulness in everyday living. He is currently a student of Neuroscience and Nutritional Sciences at Michigan State University and a bona fide health geek.