Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins, the brain’s feel-good chemicals. Any exercise that engages both your arms and legs—such as walking, running, swimming, or dancing—can be especially effective. Instead of continuing to focus on your thoughts as you exercise, though, try focusing on how your body feels as you move.
Try to notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of the wind on your skin.
By adding this mindfulness element, by really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise, you’ll not only improve your physical condition faster, but you may also be able to interrupt the flow of constant worries running through your head. Many people find weight training, rock climbing, boxing, or martial arts especially effective as these activities make it easier to maintain your focus on your body movements—after all, if you don’t, you could get hurt.
For maximum relief of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days—or three 10-minute sessions if that’s more convenient.