I consider myself to be a pretty energetic person. At our gym I am constantly fired up and dancing around so most people would never suspect that someone like me would have some of the issues I’ve dealt with. Only those who are extremely close to me know about my long battle with anxiety. I decided to post about this so that others who may be going through something similar can know that there are ways to deal with it.

First off let me explain what exactly anxiety is. Here is  pretty good definition for anxiety:

Anxiety (also called angst or worry) is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. It is the displeasing feeling of fear and concern. The root meaning of the word anxiety is ‘to vex or trouble’; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness, and dread. 

I guess I should start at the beginning of my story to give you guys some background as everyone experiences anxiety differently and I am no different. This is a little lengthy so I apologize in advance.

I have been anxious since I can remember really. I remember being anxious when I couldn’t tell you what my house at the time looked like. I used to get extremely anxious as a young child right before I had to go to bed because I thought that I would not wake up in the morning. I get my anxiety from a fear of myself or others around me dying. This strikes me as weird because I was anxious before I really knew what death was. I was anxious before anyone I knew had passed away. I would literally lay awake at night and pray and pray not to die and would eventually fall asleep without realizing it. I know, it sounds really weird.

As I got a little bit older and was in elementary school my anxiety seemed to subside for a while. I would get the occasional worry but everything was pretty much controllable. Then when I was about to enter high school it came back. I still don’t fully understand what triggers my anxiety. Sometimes the most random movie can leave me with a full blown attack making me feel like the world is a really cruel place. These don’t have to be sad movies either, sometimes the happy ones would trigger me.

When I say anxiety attack I mean just that. The anxiety attacks and takes me over. I hyperventilate and wheeze until I get so dizzy that I black out. Once I start hyperventilating it’s very difficult to calm me down. It’s extremely frightening and I feel as though I have no control over what’s going on. It’s really hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it for yourself.

When I graduated high school and moved away from home for university my anxiety worsened. The stress of being on my own coupled with exams and papers and everything that gets thrown at you as  first year really got to me. I experienced some of the worst attacks of my life and felt like I had no control over my fears. I would get stressed about a paper and then somehow my mind would switch over and I’d be convinced that I was going to die before I got to experience everything I was supposed to in life. I am completely surprised that the wonderful new guy in my life, Steve, stuck with me because I was a basket case. 

I still can’t believe how lucky I am

The thing with anxiety is, it can be and usually is completely irrational. I worried constantly about getting cancer, a massive brain tumor, that something awful was going to happen to someone I loved. Hell I got anxious when I went shopping sometimes.

When my dad got really sick and eventually passed away in April 2008 from thyroid cancer people worried my anxiety would worsen. My dad was the type who didn’t worry. He seized every day and lived his life to the absolute fullest. He didn’t understand why I would worry over nothing. I thought about how my dad lived and told myself to try and not sweat stuff I had no control over.

Easier said than done. 

I tried taking medication but it made me feel completely whacked out and I couldn’t sleep on it. I also knew that I needed to find a long term solution to the problem, and for me personally, medication wasn’t the answer.

One thing that I found that really helped my anxiety was having a solid routine to follow. When I had a routine I was much better off than when I was flying my the seat of my pants. The other thing that really helped was going to the gym consistently. When I went to the gym I was there just for me. I woke up early and would go before the rest of my day started. Sometimes I would have to drag my butt there but once I got started I just felt good. Working out empowered me and I would feel like I could take on my day once I left there. I would take out my stress and frustrations by lifting heavy weights and doing high intensity work. At this point I was pretty good about my gym routine but would occasionally get thrown off track.

When Steve and I got ready to open our training facility I knew I would forever have a job that I loved but I had no idea how much it would impact me in other ways. I was now working out on a pretty much daily basis, even if it was just a little bit some days and I can say without a doubt that exercise has had such a significant impact on my anxiety.

Exercise has become a way for me to reduce my anxiety naturally. Working out releases these awesome feel good chemicals called endorphins and it allows me to take my mind off of those irrational thoughts and focus on something else. Exercise makes me stronger and more confident in my self and my sense of well-being. It is something that I could definitely not go without at this point.

If you have anxiety or depression exercise can be a great way to reduce your symptoms. I’m not saying this is right for everyone or that it will allow you to stop taking medication, but I am suggesting that you give it a try. The Mayo clinic and several universities have conducted studies that show reduced symptoms in those who exercise regularly. Arizona State University has found that:

“in people diagnosed with depression or anxiety, the immediate mood boost is followed by longer-term relief, similar to that offered by medication and talk therapy”

People who I train know that I am always dancing and moving even if I’m not working out and that’s because I’ve made the decision to do what makes me happy. Dancing and moving and being silly makes me feel good so I do it and don’t worry about what others think. 

Is my anxiety totally gone? No. It is something I will likely always deal with but I feel like I am finally in control of it and don’t have issues with it near as often.

Heck, even if you don’t have anxiety or depression, exercise is a great mood elevator and stress reliever. So get out there and get moving!

Me doing what I love!

Anxiety & Exercise
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7 thoughts on “Anxiety & Exercise

  • January 31, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    Love love love it Chelsey…Thanks for being so honest. It takes alot of courage to share something so personal…Thanks again<3…Fran

  • February 14, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    wow.. amazing post! i also suffer with anxiety and panic attacks. the first time i had a panic attack i thought i was having a HEART ATTACK and went to the hospital..!!! I also used to think i was dying of all these random diseases- mostly ms.. and sometimes cancer- from all the weird aches and pains and headaches and dizzyness that anxiety and panic bring along with them. now i know the signs and symptoms when i feel it coming on i just talk myself out of it. or go to the gym and when i can lift heavy its like a message to my body that i am actually ok…great to hear your story its not often i hear of someone else who suffers this. nobody really understands what its like and how real and scary they signs and symptoms feel!

  • February 14, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    I really don't think it's something that's easy to explain to people unless they've experienced it themselves so it's always nice (not in an 'I'm happy you feel like you're having heart attacks too' way) to hear that other people have gone through/thought the same thing and are working through it.

    FYI you have some killer recipes on your site. I will definitely be trying some of those this week 🙂

  • April 8, 2012 at 5:12 am

    lol where’d ya get these photos from? They appear familiar, maybe it’s just another TCAs trip I’m having, I don’t know teehee
    tricyclic antidepressants recently posted..1My Profile

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