…a child’s pose while focusing on slow, deep breaths to increase oxygen in your lungs. Standing poses, like the tree pose, are also helpful for reducing anxiety because you need extra concentration and focus to balance yourself. To experience intense relaxation and reduce pain or tension in your lower back, you can try the legs up the wall, or “viparita karani” pose, while focusing on long, deep breaths.
Although a little less peaceful than yoga on its face, there’s a reason why so many people flock to boxing gyms. Boxing has a number of benefits from major calorie burn to building lean muscle. But on top of that, boxing allows you to relieve stress by punching it all away. Whether you prefer shadow boxing, punching bags, or a sparring partner, setting a target to aim punches and kicks creates increased focus and relieves that overwhelmed feeling you might otherwise have. If you choose to really train to build your skills, you can improve your mental sharpness and learn to better focus your energy when your anxiety and stress levels begin to rise. Moreover, the more you box, you will undoubtedly boost your confidence and self-esteem in the process which can help to ease anxiety even more.
Much like running, swimming has amazing benefits for your whole body. Steady paced swimming for an extended period of time can release endorphins as with any vigorous exercise, which instantly calm your brain. As you perfect your technique, the steady, controlled breaths can also create a calming affect for your body, reducing stress and preventing anxiety. Be sure to take lessons and learn the basic technique if you are new to swimming, so that you don’t feel too nervous in the water. Once you’re comfortable, try out different strokes, from breast stroke to freestyle to find the one that best improves your mood.
To get the most out of these workouts for your mental health, set a goal to exercise at least 2 days a week. You should be pushing yourself beyond your comfort level to release endorphins and reap the most benefits. Of course, even with regular exercise, be sure to talk to your doctor about your anxiety, especially if it disrupts your daily routine.
Sharita Jennings is a health policy attorney, ACE certified group fitness instructor and nutrition specialist. She leads fitness classes in Washington, DC and provides online coaching and tips on her site, GetFitLikeThat.com.