We all know lots of research has been done on the effect that exercise can have on reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. And for the majority of people exercise does just that, elevating their mood with those music fuelled endorphins! However for some people the stress relieving workouts they reach for such as boxing, spinning or a Barry’s Bootcamp can actually result in feeling worse and spiking anxiety. But why?
1) STRESS CAUSED BY A DIFFERENT STIMULUS
If you think about it this actually makes total sense because the physical effects caused by these style classes are so similar to those of anxiety – increased heart rate, sweating, adrenalin pumping, nausea and shortened breath. It’s just caused by a different stimulus, and so is fuelling that anxiety fire.
Add to the mix that that some of these high intensity classes have a competitive nature (leader boards or AMRAP challenges for example) and there you have an element of failure to contend with which can add to that anxious/low feeling when you aren’t already feeling tip-top.
3) CORTISOL RELEASE
When you’re anxious your body is stressed and you release cortisol. When you exercise you’re introducing additional stress to the body and you’re ALSO releasing more cortisol. Your body can only deal with so much stress at once!
4) MENTALLY EXHAUSTED
If you’re mentally drained from stress and worried thoughts, your concentration is not likely to be at it’s best, which can lead to injury or poor performance in your workout. This in turn can make you feel worse if you’ve come away with a twisted ankle from that box jump or you didn’t hit your usual 300 score in spin.
I don’t know about you all, but when I’m feeling anxious my confidence is usually shot – both physically and mentally. So if I then walked into a room full of SASSY ladies and HUNKY gents covered in sweat looking fabulous then that can make me feel worse. I’m much better off facing whatever is troubling me head-on and come back and join in on the SASS squad when I’m feeling back to myself.
so what’s the solution?
If you’re finding your currently stress busting workouts are actually counteractive when you’re feeling anxious, then why not switch up your routine for something more nourishing for the mind and body; such as yoga or pilates. You can still reap the rewards of a good workout, but by slowing down the body’s pace, the mind is likely to do the same. It’s also a good way to release any tension in the body (in particular the tight muscles around the neck where we tend to store a lot of stress), reducing the chance of injury as well as making you more supple.