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Movement for Anxiety

Anxiety is your body’s way of letting you know that something is wrong and that you are in danger. This can be a helpful alarm system if and when you are actually in danger, but it becomes more of a problem – and extremely frustrating and exhausting – when you are safe and not in any real danger.

 

While anxiety is all about worrying about the future or past, mindfulness focuses on the present moment. This can be really powerful, as it takes away some power from the anxiety because there is nothing to worry about in the present moment, assuming you are in a safe place. The more you practice mindfulness, the more your mind and body will get used to focusing on the present moment, rather than the past or future.


Movement can be a powerful way to stay in the present moment and to stay present with and in your body. Some of my favorite ways to move mindfully for anxiety are walking, yoga or stretching, and dancing.


Walking has a rhythm that is naturally calming for our bodies. For me, when I’m feeling anxious, I usually start out walking at a brisk pace, and as I continue walking, I am mindful about my speed and try to slow down the pace to help calm my body. It’s a way I meet my body where it is at and then work with it to calm it down.

 

Yoga and stretching are helpful as it helps our bodies release tension and stress that it might be holding on to because of the anxiety. Yoga and stretching also tend to encourage mindfulness, as we usually tune into our bodies and breath more as we stretch and hold poses.

 

Dance may be my personal favorite way to move when I am feeling extra anxious. My focus shifts to the music, the moves, and the people around me, rather than whatever was occupying my mind. According to Tao, Gao, Cole, et al. (2022), “dance develops relationships, connects people, and increases feelings of joy and togetherness,” and each of these can help lower overall anxiety. Their study discusses the psychological and physiological benefits of dance, and you can read more about it here.

 

Curious about how Work It Out Wellness incorporates movement with mental health, and vice versa? Let’s chat! You can email us at wiowellness@gmail.com or schedule an appointment through our client portal through our website.

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