A little stress can actually be good for you, but anxiety is much more overwhelming, and lasts for a longer period of time than normal everyday stress. When experiencing anxiety, everything is more intense (and not in a good way). Anxiety escalates very quickly. For instance, if you fail one test, you may feel that you’re a failure at everything, and will certainly never pass another exam. This is extreme thinking that is exaggerated.
The good news is, is that a regular exercise routine will beat stress and feelings associated with anxiety. Anxiety is excess energy, and exercise is the number one way to reduce excess energy that caused your mind to become overwhelmed.
Thirty minutes of intense exercise, at least four times a week, is the formula that most professionals recommend. It has been studied, documented and proven that individuals, that are physically fit, handle long-term stress more efficiently.
There is one workout routine, in particular that is very effective for beating stress, and that is the planks series. The main purpose of this workout is not only to make your body stronger, but to shift your anxiety to a place in your mind that it can be neutralized.
Before we begin, let’s take a closer look at anxiety and how to analyze it. It is important to identify stress triggers, so that they can possibly be stopped before they start to snowball.
Identify anxious thoughts, and see how quickly they can spin out of control. Some examples include, but are not limited to:
- You have a headache. You will be wondering if they will EVER go away, and that perhaps you have a brain tumor.
- I think my new supervisor hates me. How will I get her to like me? Please don’t let me get fired!
- What will happen if I get a divorce? I will be branded for life. I’ll never fall in love again! I’ll be alone forever!
- When will I get pregnant? We have been trying forever! What if I can’t? Will I still be loved? My body has failed me!
Now, connect the mental thoughts with the physical. Mental anxiety will wreak havoc on your physical state of being. For instance, physical symptoms associated with stress and anxiety include, but is certainly not limited to: rapid heart rate, hyperventilation, jitters, clenched jaw, sweating, teeth grinding, acid reflux, heartburn and headaches.
Magnifying failures or success is a practice that needs to be controlled. When these outcomes (whether success or failure) are magnified, they become destructive emotions.
It is important that you take your plate full of panic, fear and anxious feelings, and turn them into a positive perspective that is focused on the task at hand. Repeat the mantra, “do not magnify failures or success”, as you immerse yourself into an exercise routine that requires mental focus and physical balance. The flow of this particular exercise series is made to keep you in a constant state of thinking about something else, besides your anxious thoughts. You will be asked to concentrate on your actions, and on your balance and coordination. In the end, you will feel calmer, energized and mentally centered.
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Plank Balance Series
To begin, lay on your stomach with your arms extended in front of you. Your palms flat and your fingers spread apart. Your feet should be spread, as far as the width of your hips, and your legs should be straight out behind you. Tip your heels forward, as if you are ready to “take off”, and level your hips and keep your back straight and flat. Pull your bellybutton towards your spine, to tighten your abdominal muscles. Your chest should be wide open, and your shoulders should be away from your ears. Your head should be straight, relaxed and in line with your spine. Find a spot on the floor to focus on. Every fiber of your body should feel strong and solid.
Now that you have the positive correct, the series will go as follows:
Hold for 10 seconds
Hold for 10 second, while raising only your right leg
Hold for 10 seconds, while raising only your left leg
Hold for 10 seconds, while lifting only your right arm
Hold for 10 seconds, while lifting only your left arm
Hold for 10 seconds, and simultaneously lift your right leg with your left arm
Hold for 10 seconds, and simultaneously lift your left leg with your right arm
Hold the original plank position for the last 10 seconds.
For an added intensity, try the Forearm Plank Balance Series. The series sequence will be the same, but the starting position will be one that your body will be propped on your elbows, and your body will be lifted from the ground.