Living actively

Feelings of anxiety and inner unrest can have a paralysing effect on everyday life and put the brakes on everything you do. But active physical exercise and sport are tried-and-true methods of leaving stress, tension, and feelings of being overwhelmed behind you.

Especially when our thoughts are spinning and cannot settle down by themselves, exercise and sport can do wonders. The reason for this a phenomenon which many people are familiar with: once you start moving, your mind focuses mainly on coordinating your movements and almost automatically turns off the rest of your thoughts. The process of not thinking – which is something many patients long for – does not even call for deliberate effort: it "happens" all by itself.

Staying active prevents health risks

Another advantage of physical activity and movement: getting rid of stress hormones which can initiate processes in the body that cause health damage. The background here is that anxious moods put stress on the body, and it reacts as if there were a physical threat. It releases hormones which increase the heart rate, improve blood flow to the muscles, and speed up breathing.

When stress and anxiety are emotional in nature, however, the physical action the body was preparing for does not occur, and the hormones which were released are not adequately broken down again. In the long run, these responses can have effects such as burdening the cardiovascular system or facilitating mental illness such as depression.

Start slowly and don't overdo it

As is the case with other things, everyone has to determine for themselves which kind of activity they prefer and how much they should do. Always start out slowly, and do not overdo anything. This is just as true of jogging and cycling as it is of swimming laps in a pool or other kinds of endurance sport. The goal is to get moving and keep moving, not to put yourself under pressure.

Sport does not have to be the only way to achieve this goal. Taking regular walks or hikes as a way of releasing tension is an approach that is just as popular as relaxing activities. If possible, seek out a calming environment in nature instead of the noise and bustle of the city.