Staying active is an essential part of overcoming anxiety and depression. It doesn't matter if you prefer traditional cardio, strength training or swimming; what's important is to find a type of exercise that feels good for you.
It may be difficult to get moving at first, but the following seven exercises can help you tap into natural stress-relieving benefits that can improve your mood.
Feel-Good Exercises to Ease Depression and Anxiety
Here's a list of seven such exercises:
1) Breathwork Meditation
Breathwork is a great way to start your day and balance your body to reduce anxiety. The goal of this exercise is to balance your left and right hemispheres of the brain while also aligning your body's left and right hemispheres with your breath.
To do this exercise:
- Stretch out your spine by sitting cross-legged.
- Release the thumb of your right hand, and allow it to rest on the front of your left shoulder. Cross your right hand over your left armpit.
- Release your thumb to rest on the front of your right shoulder as you cross your left hand across your right armpit.
- Take a deep breath. Try it out, and concentrate on your breathing for three minutes. Let the exhale to release tension or worry and the inhale to bring in clarity.
2) Child’s Pose
The Child Pose is easy to perform and uses rhythmic breathing and movement to oxygenate the entire body.
This pose prepares you for more challenging yoga poses by gently warming up the spine. The relaxed posture gradually relieves tension, fatigue, back discomfort and neck ache while stretching your front torso, including your shoulders, neck and spine.
To do this pose:
- Bring your head toward the floor as you sit on your heels with your knees spread apart.
- You can hold your arms out in front of you, by your sides, or with your hands on your forehead.
- Inhale deeply into your lower back.
- Rest in this position for a minimum of 30 seconds and a maximum of several minutes.
- Exhale, and roll up your vertebra by vertebra to exit or return to a sitting position with a straight spine.
3) Tibetan Rites
This posture is part of the Five Tibetan Rites, a system of exercises said to increase energy and reduce anxiety. By practicing this posture, you're opening up your heart space and emptying your mind every time you lift and drop your neck.
Here's how you do it:
- Lean forward, and place your seat on your heels as you get on your knees.
- With your hands on your lower back, raise your hips till they are level with your knees.
- Put a small chin tuck in your chest.
- Raise your chin; extend your heart and chest toward the ceiling, and draw your elbows back toward one another.
4) Supine Twist
The restorative spinal twist known as Supta Matsyendrasana lengthens and strengthens the spine while detoxifying the internal organs. Supta Matsyendrasana, a mild yoga pose, stretches the spine and shoulders to help the body release tension and anxiety.
To do this posture:
- Sit with your legs straight out in front of you and your right leg over your left thigh. Lift your right arm in the air; cross your chest, and hook your right elbow outside your right knee.
- Lengthen your spine as you inhale, and twist as you exhale.
- Take three to five breaths in this posture; slowly release it, and switch sides.
5) Tree Pose
Your balance, posture and body awareness can all be enhanced with this standing position. This pose has both physical and mental health benefits, as it helps to calm the mind and relieve unpleasant thoughts and sensations.
To do this posture:
- Stand in the Mountain Pose. Lift your right leg. Place your right foot just above the inside of your left knee, and bring it up to your inner left groin muscle.
- Hold the quadriceps tight, and maintain your left leg's strength.
- When you've completed this pose, try to hold for at least one minute, breathing deeply.
- Repeat on the other side.
Running can do more than help you shed pounds and lower your cholesterol; it can also help you feel less anxious.
An analysis in BMC Health Services Research showed that aerobic activity is a viable treatment option for anxiety.
Exercise performed at a high intensity can be more effective than one performed at a low intensity.
Cycling is a great way to relieve anxiety. You can perform the activity at high intensity outdoors, or you can use an indoor bike if you live in a place with bad weather.
Research shows that indoor cycling—in both a virtual and actual setting—might reduce your stress levels.
What kind of exercise makes you feel great? Hiking, biking, weight lifting, dancing, swimming? There are a variety of workouts available. Experiment. Find your type, and enjoy it. Exercises doesn't have to be boring, and their benefits can be useful to combat anxiety and depression.
Q. How do you deal with stress and anxiety?