Part Deux of Beating Stress and Anxiety

I hope you read the first part of this topic already, if not it’s right here .  I will give another good tip today on this topic.  Using multiple strategies together makes a great plan to beat this issue that afflicts so many.  Stress and anxiety  are killers, physically and metaphorically.  So let’s commit to getting started battling it if you haven’t already.

A second method for battling this gnawing issue has to do with movement.  Genetically we are designed to move.  Our office mantra for optimal health states that to BE well, we have to “Eat Well, Move Well, Think Well and Rest Well”.  Moving is as vital as any of the others, and done properly, is an effective tool to battle stress and anxiety.

Personal story here.  When I was dealing with anxiety, and didn’t know it was anxiety, my epiphany that led to my healing began on a Saturday afternoon at my house.  I was at my wits end as to what was going on in my body.  I had ordered an MRI of my brain and neck as the symptoms I was having had me worried (yea, THAT helps with stress doesn’t it?).  They had come back normal.   As I lay on my bed that Saturday,  feeling like absolute crap and not knowing why,  I literally said out loud, “to hell with this” and I got on my treadmill.  I walked, hard, with a lot of incline on the treadmill, for 45 minutes.  I soaked my shirt with sweat.  I got off of the treadmill and thought, “I feel like a new man”.  The difference was amazing.  I’m not sure when I realized that I had stumbled upon a clue, but I know that was the beginning of my healing.

Now I know some of the physiology behind what happened to me then.  When we have stress/anxiety in our lives, the fight or flight reflex (sympathetic nervous system) kicks in, raising blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and more. It is preparing us for action, preparing us for survival in an emergency.  This is a necessary event.

However, when we never have the ability or opportunity to act, when the event never transpires (as in chronic stress or anxiety) it’s almost as if all that stored up preparatory action is for naught.  It sits there in your body, with deleterious effects on your health physically and mentally.  We need to release it.  In our sedentary world, a world that sits an enormous amount of time, and moves very little, there’s not much of an outlet for this stress.  So, we need to CREATE the outlet.

That’s what the treadmill did for me.  Since that day about 10 years ago, I’ve used High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for my cardiovascular exercise.  If I’m walking, I do intervals where I keep a steady pace, broken up by intervals where I speed walk about as fast as I can.  Sometimes I actually sprint for my interval (there’s a funny sight, a 50 year old man running hard, but not moving fast)  There are many health reasons for using this form of exercise that I won’t go into right now, but suffice it to say it works well and burns off excess energy in a short time frame.  On a treadmill, I don’t recommend walking at high speeds for safety’s sake.  You can do intervals where you increase the incline of the treadmill to increase the intensity of your walk.  I use a 3:1 ratio for my intervals.  This means if I walk solid for 3 minutes, I’d do an interval of more intense walking for one minute.  Find the intervals that work best for you in that ratio.  You can also research online about interval training, there’s plenty of good information available.

For now, that’s it.  So get moving.  Intentionally and intensely.  Note: If you’re not already exercising, make sure your health care provider has cleared you for exercise before beginning.

I’ll have one more tip to share in the next post.

Until then…..Be Well!

Dr. Bruce