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How To Manage Anxiety (With No Suggestions Of Medication And Meditation!)

How To Manage Anxiety (With No Suggestions Of Medication And Meditation!)

It’s a shocking statistic that one in four of us will at some point this year suffer a mental health issue, and amongst those, depression and anxiety are the most common disorders.

In a GB survey, 1 in 6 adults had experiences some form of “neurotic health problem” … in the previous week In fact, 1 in 10 of us will develop a specific form of anxiety that will be considered disabling.  According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common illness in the USA, affecting 18% of the population – that is 40 million adults! What is shocking about these statistics is the fact that this is such a high percentage of the general population. What’s even more shocking is the number of people that do not speak about it or seek the right help to make it better. Sticking a plaster on it will cover the wound from public view, sure. But it doesn’t heal. And unfortunately these social plasters that we are using to mask our anxiety often come in the form of alcohol, smoking, comfort eating and the like. Unfortunately whilst this creates a good façade, putting on a wonderful show to others that everything is fine, it doesn’t stop the worry and the helpless feeling of anxiety.

What is anxiety???

According to Anxiety UK,

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“anxiety is a normal response to stress or danger and is often called the ‘flight or fight’ response. This process involves adrenalin being quickly pumped through the body enabling it to cope with whatever catastrophe may come its way. The problems arise when this response is out of proportion to the actual danger of the situation, or indeed is generated when there is no danger present”.

The feeling of anxiety is a distressing one. There is nothing worse that the feeling of helplessness, panic, worry, confusion and uncertainty. The symptoms of anxiety are physical as well as mental, and include a tight chest, nausea, sweating and insomnia. Whilst everyone is different, and what works for one might not work for another, here are my top ten tips for managing anxiety, so that you can come through the other side stronger than ever.

Management tip 1: Know your triggers

This comes with time but once you learn to recognize your triggers, then you will find managing any anxiety or worries a lot easier. What do I mean by a trigger though? Any kind of behavior that might be erratic or out of character that indicates to you that something is not quite right. This might be eating excessively, over exercising or a particular worrying, reoccurring dream. This will be your subconscious, letting you know to take a step back, analyze what is wrong and prepare yourself to deal with it head on.

Management tip 2: Exercise

For me exercise is the key to a stress free mind and a can-do attitude. I am sure I don’t need to bore you about the endless mental and physical benefits of exercise (if you do want to know, read Health24’s article). Even if you are not the sporty type, you’ll find benefit in engaging in light exercise, such as a gentle bike ride or a walk in the park.

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In a study reported in the book, “The Happiness Advantage” it was confirmed that exercise is a key to successfully overcoming depression. The study looked into three groups of depressed patients who were treated with medication, exercise, or a combination of the two and their relapse rate. They found that “those who had taken the medication alone, 38 percent had slipped back into depression. Those in the combination group were doing only slightly better, with a 31 percent relapse rate. The biggest shock, though, came from the exercise group: Their relapse rate was only 9 percent!”

Management tip 3: There is nothing to fear but fear itself

If you haven’t already, read Susan Jeffer’s amazing book “Feel the Fear…and do it anyway”After reading this it suddenly became extremely clear to me that there was in fact nothing to be afraid of in life. After all, if fear was a “real thing” then we would all have the same fear. Be it a fear of failure, loneliess or public speaking, this fear really boils down to the fact that all we really fear is… the unknown. Reminding myself that there is nothing to fear, reminds me to be brave and grab life by both hands.

Management tip 4: Spend time around those that are positive

If you are feeling anxious or unhappy then make sure you surround yourself with positive people. Actually even if you are not feeling symptoms of anxiety but know that you are susceptible to it, then I also recommend this as a tactic (prevention is better than cure after all). When I say positive as well, I don’t mean that you have to be around people that are happy clappy 24/7. This is unrealistic. Surround yourself with people that are positive in the sense that they are confident, have a can-do attitude and will ultimately be an encouraging influence in your life. Those that are pessimistic and play the victim are not welcome in your inner circle, I call these kind of people “toxic people” and you don’t want to feed off that kind of energy.

 Management tip 5: Take time out

If you do find yourself in a situation where it is all getting on top of you, then don’t be afraid to stop, take a breath and take some time out. Whether this is a day off to clear some mind clutter, or a week off to fully get away from it all. This is where tip one comes in handy – spotting and listening to your triggers will mean that you can take a break before it gets all too much for you.

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Management tip 6: Have things to look forward to

I have many passions and hobbies and one thing I have learnt over the years is that the key to my motivation is to have regular activities booked in to my diary! I like to schedule regular weekends away to see friends, evenings out to try new restaurants and personal milestones such as kick boxing gradings.  It is extremely important to have things to look forward to in order to remember what is important to you in life and to see the bigger picture.

Management tip 7: See small tasks as achievements

I am not sure where it stems from, but I find a lot of people (and myself included sometimes) don’t stop to congratulate themselves on the small tasks in life and feel that only the larger achievements (work promotion, new baby, new house etc) deserves a pat on the back.

But why?!

We should take pride in the small things in life – when you do, you’ll find that your confidence will grow and in turn help manage your anxiety as you start to take pleasure and pride in yourself. You will start to see, that when you overcome your worries and fears, amazing things can happen! If your cooking is as good as a blind panda in the kitchen with oven gloves sello-tapped on, then take pride in yourself when you manage to bake your kid’s birthday cake from scratch. This may seem like a small achievement but it is little steps of self improvement that eventually add up to the big ones!

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Management tip 8: Eat healthy

As with top tip two, this is one that I cannot advocate enough. I truly believe that what you put in, you get out. Pump it full of chemicals, processed foods and sugar then you can’t expect your mind or body to function how it should be. Studies too show there is a strong correlation to depression. It is worth noting here too that whilst a large glass of vino after a stressfully anxiety filled day seems like the right antidote, alcohol is actually a depressant.

Management tip 9: Music

I am not a hard core music fanatic (I go to music festivals but have no idea half the time who is on the stage) but I have always found music to be good therapy. Just ten minutes listening to your favourite songs might be enough to perk you up on your drab and dreary commute to the office. If you are feeling down, worried or any other signs of anxiety, pop in your ear phones and take a moment out.

Management tip 10: Set goals and make baby steps

One of methods I found useful for me in containing my worries and stress was to set myself achievable goals, and start making slow baby steps towards them. Following on from tip 7, these don’t have to be massive goals either, they could be something to push you out of your comfort zone to take your mind off things and to help gain confidence. For example, it could be to start a new sport or take up a class at night school. Break down the bigger goal in to bite sized chunk and use these as stepping stones, and remember to reward yourself at each milestone.

If you are feeling any symptoms of anxiety, seek medical help from you GP immediately. Don’t suffer in silence.

For more information visit the Mental Health Foundation and Anxiety UK and Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Featured photo credit: unknown via freeimages.com

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Alice Dartnell

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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