For many people anxiety stands in the way of a lot of things, including achieving their fitness goals. The good news is there are many ways to overcome anxiety. With anxiety out of the way you’ll have all the better shot at achieving the goals you’ve set in place.
If you, or someone you care about, suffers from anxiety and/or panic, it’s important to understand what it’s like to feel this way all the time. The anxious person gets upset at the thought of possible emotional consequences – so much so that it stops them from going any further. Emotional consequences could be embarrassment, shame, pain or failure and this is frightening. To the non-anxious person this fear and panic seems like an overreaction, but to the anxious person the threat is very real. Perhaps past experiences have left such an impression on them emotionally that they fear re-experiencing it. Severe levels of this are diagnosed as PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Mild to moderate anxiety can be diagnosed as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety or Panic Disorder.
The High Price of Anxiety
People who live with anxiety pay a very high price in that they give up on dreams and aspirations, simply because they get overwhelmed with fear. Children with anxiety are often punished for misbehavior which is usually because neither they nor their parents have recognized that the real problem is an anxiety disorder. Adults who live with undiagnosed and untreated anxiety are often too fearful and insecure to leave the house or to try new things. Unfamiliar people and places make them so uncomfortable that they avoid these things at all costs. This avoidance results in varying degrees of isolation and loneliness and can be very destructive to a person’s self-confidence and self-esteem.
Dr. Uros Zrnic, MD is a trained medical doctor and psychiatrist. He sees many patients in his practice who suffer from mild to severe anxiety. Dr. Zrnic firmly believes that exercise is the best treatment for people with all type of emotional disorders – the tricky part is getting his patients to feel confident enough to leave their homes, get outside and get active. Treatment begins with CBT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – talking through the fears the anxious person experiences when they face a new challenge. Talking about these fears helps the patient understand the root of their anxieties. This helps them tell real problems from imagined ones and therefore greatly reduces their fears and the panicked overreactions that accompany them. Dr. Zrnic does prescribe some patients anti-anxiety medications but with continued CBT and encouragement, many patients discover their need for medication diminishes as they progress in their treatment and learn how to finally beat anxiety.
Once a person understands the root of their fears, they begin to feel more secure and confident. This newfound courage is put to the test when the person starts trying new things again. For people who have been afraid to leave their homes this could mean taking a walk around the block and gradually making those walks longer. These are the first steps toward freedom from the anxiety that has kept them trapped for so long. Short walks lead to longer walks; longer walks lead to jogs; and you get the gist. Increased physical activity results in weight loss, which in turn builds confidence and boosts self-esteem. Soon it is no longer scary to leave the house to go for a run, or to sign up for the next 5k in the area. In the course of a couple of months this person who was afraid to leave the house is now less fearful, more physically fit, feels empowered, and looks forward to trying new things such as that 5K race!
If you suffer from anxiety and any of this sounds familiar, know that there is a way to feel better. Chances are you have family and friends that know something is wrong but don’t know how to help you. Each day’s a new slate and full of potential for most everyone out there. Find someone to help you talk through your fears, whether that classifies as your spouse, your minister, a counselor at school or a trained medical professional. Talking it out will make these things much less scary, and you will see that you are fully capable of dealing with whatever arises. Take one moment at a time until you feel stronger and more comfortable.
Once you learn how to overcome your anxieties, you can live each day without fear and without panic. You will feel free, maybe for the first time in your life. Sustaining an active lifestyle’s the best treatment for emotional anxiety. Everyone deserves a chance to get out there and enjoy life to the fullest.