It is better to talk about it, so here I am talking about my experience with anxiety, and how exercise has helped me.
I have always been an over-thinker. Always.
Growing up right through drama school, I would always think way too much about how I came across and how other people saw me, spending hours at night going over and over something I or someone else said and what was meant by it. I thought I was just being a worrier, just being a bit silly.
Then once I graduated and got thrown into adulthood it all started getting worse.
I would become to anxious to send off a job application, or ask anyone if they have any jobs going.
I would panic if I thought someone had taken something I had said the wrong way.
I would spend hours at night thinking about what someone meant when they said or did something.
Again I thought it was fairly normal.
Then I had a pretty bad year, due to a series of events, found myself completely lost. This is when my anxiety developed further.
I could think about something without even realising and my throat would suddenly start to tighten, it would feel like I was being strangled or the biggest lump in my throat that made it difficult to breathe.
I’d randomly, or not randomly, get the shakes. My hands would tremble making it awkward to use them.
My heart suddenly speeds up and pumps to the point where you can feel it in my chest. None of these symptoms being what you want to happen in public!
It was only a couple of months ago that I decided it was probably at a stage (after a few minor breakdowns) that I should maybe see a doctor. One issue with anxiety is that you get worried about telling people, you try and cover it up in case people tell you to stop over reacting. I really would stop if I could but unfortunately my body and my mind tend to just go for it. So I did and I was told that actually I have severe anxiety. I wasn’t just being silly.
I’ve always been active, danced from a young age, drama school is full on, but then once it stops suddenly you realise you haven’t been very active in a few months. So I started going to the gym, and I enjoyed it so I took a Personal Training course (which I smashed!).
I have definitely found exercising helps with my anxiety, If I’ve done a decent workout then I am less likely to have an attack. If I am feeling a bit on the edge then a good cardio session can burn off that energy for me.
However, this can go too far. When I was at my most anxious I got to a point of not being able to get through a day until I had gotten myself to a point of exhaustion doing cardio, like when you’ve run so fast for a period of time that you get that burning in your throat and your chest, I would be so worried that if I didn’t get myself to that point I would have an attack that day. That is too far, it’s not healthy and it doesn’t help. I know that now.
I then got to a point where I was too distracted in the gym with the all the things on my mind. I would get a little way into my workout and just stop, feeling I had too much to do or that I just didn’t want to be there.
So I decided to book a class, a class that would challenge me, and give me enough instruction that I would just have to do as I was told. So I booked a spin class! I was pretty nervous for the first one but I’d booked it so I had to go.
And it almost killed me….in a good way!
I’m now at a point where it’s not randomly happening all the time but it can be set off by the smallest of things, like a stressful situation or a big social gathering. I don’t let it stop me doing these things, but I do have to call someone I know can calm me down, or practice some breathing exercises and have a cup of tea. I have kept at the spin classes (even bought myself some proper shoes!) and I can now get a good weights workout in when I want to as well. Just by keeping my exercise or daily activity consistent I feel more in control of
myself, then I can go back to being me and not taking myself too seriously!
And its true, talking to people about it can really help, and half the time the person you are talking to has experienced it in some way too.