Overcoming Barriers to practice : Anxiety

– Feeling too anxious to practice –

When we feel anxious, we tend to avoid doing certain things. Yoga, meditation and exercise can be one of them, even though there are so many benefits to practicing.

Physical activity is known to help with reducing symptoms of:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress

However, when we are struggling it can be difficult to engage in physical activity. Here are some tips and pointers to overcome those barriers and get moving to help with physical and mental wellbeing.

– Anxiety has a crippling effect on our motivation –

Stress, anxiety and depression are often reported as barriers to exercise. For those who have mental and physical health challenges, it is one of the driving factors, affecting 61% of people wishing to attend classes.

Anxiety can have such an impact on our lives, people often disengage with day-to-day tasks and have challenges with exercise and joining classes. Yoga, Gentle Exercise and Meditation lessons have a myriad of benefits for those suffering with anxiety. For example, you can learn how to control your breathing and learn relaxation techniques which can be used on and off the mat. However, anxiety can be a barrier to us attending classes.

Some of the common anxieties around attending classes are feeling uncomfortable with being a beginner and worrying about what others in the class may think of their practice. The truth is, even the most experienced teachers are constantly learning and adapting their practice. Allow yourself the space to grow. People who come to yoga, gentle exercise and meditation classes share a common goal of improving their well-being.

– What are the common barriers associated with anxiety? –

– Low Energy & Low Mood –

Stress, lack of sleep and diet can cause us to feel anxious and contribute to feeling low on energy.

What can we do to help with low mood?

It is worth examining some of these things and addressing them to help lift our mood and energy.

  • Are you getting enough sleep at night?
    Spend some time before bed unwinding, have a nice relaxing bath. Read a book and ensure that there is no screen time before bed.
  • Are you eating too much sugar?
    Sugar can cause a whole host of problems for our mood, sugar spikes can cause highs in our mood, then when they wear off lows. To combat this, try to avoid having too much sugar in our diets. Perhaps, replacing sugar with healthy alternatives.
  • Are you eating healthily?
    We literally are what we eat. Our bodies build new cells from what we consume. Our bodies reactions and functions rely on vitamins and minerals gained from our diet. Ensure to eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day and avoid processed foods where possible.
  • Are you setting aside time in your day to relax and enjoy some you-time?
    To reduce stress and anxiety within your life, set aside time for you. Do what sets your soul alight, or soothes the soul.

– Anxiety around causing or making a pre-existing injury worse –

– Pain and discomfort –

Pain and discomfort can be a barrier to practicing and exercising. From back pain, to stiff joints – sometimes it can seem that exercising will make a pre-existing condition worse. Challenges with circulation and breathing can also make movement and exercise seem like it will be too difficult.

What can we do to overcome this barrier?

It is best to discuss exercise routines with a doctor or healthcare professional initially before starting a new routine. However, move it or lose it chair exercise classes and chair yoga classes are designed to be gentle on joints, done seated or standing. Another good way to get moving with exercise that is low impact is joining a local aqua-aerobics class.

The more you move, the more you are able to move…

It’s always beneficial to move the body in a safe way as much as we can. Starting out small and building up our routine is a wonderful way to do this. Break exercise down into small manageable chunks and work your way up to doing half an hour a day. Every movement and step counts.

A focus on losing weight can also help…

Being overweight can make pain in knees, back and legs worse. But, lose just 1lb and that would equate to a reduction of 4lb in knee joint pressure.

Getting more active can seem daunting, but find something you love doing and it won’t be a chore!

-Fear of injury –

Many people worry about injury and how it might affect their day-to-day life if they become injured or aggravate a pre-existing condition.

What can we do to overcome this barrier?

Again, check with your doctor before starting any new routine. However, with a gentle routine, the right instructor and the right equipment – you can get active in a safe and supported way! Exercise and physical activity often helps the rehabilitation process. Start slowly and build on your practice.

– Cognitive Decline –

Those who are experiencing challenges with memory, cognitive decline or dementia can still get many mental and physiical benefits from practice. Exercise and movement helps maintain healthy blood flow to the brain and helps the body produce new cells.  It helps with proprioception, keeping the mind active. It also helps with balance and hand-eye co-ordination.

What can we do to overcome this barrier?

To overcome cognitive decline, we need to make exercise part of our daily routine. Mental hygiene is as important as physical hygiene and we should do things to stimulate our minds daily. Keeping exercises simple, such as walking, climbing stairs, or simple stretching can really help us maintain a simple daily routine. Joining a class locally or online can help you to learn the ropes and start to practice a daily routine at home.

– Feeling Isolated –

Many of us have been feeling isolated during lockdown. This has an effect on our motivation to practice. Most people are more likely to work-out with a friend, loved one or at a local class. If someone has lost someone close to them, or if their partner has mobility challenges, they are less likely to be motivated to stay active.

Walking alone can make people feel vulnerable, especially as darker nights set in. Isolation can also make people feel scared or shy of joining group classes.

What can we do to overcome this barrier?

There are lots of local classes that people can join both online and in person.
AMALAwellness – Teesside offers a range of classes to help people stay active and mobile. As well as aiding physical and mental well-being. The key is to find something that sets your soul alight, that you enjoy. That way, as well as joining a class doing something you enjoy, you will make new friends with similar outlooks and hobbies. Family and friends can be wonderful for helping you stay active. Tell them about your goals and maybe you can encourage them to be more active too, or join them in activities.

– Set Smart Goals –

Sometimes things can seem daunting, but setting smart small attainable daily goals can really help us improve both out physical and mental wellbeing.

Try setting a goal of walking so many steps a day, or for a set amount of time a day. Join a local gentle exercise class, then progress from there. Even small attainable goals like drinking more water can help us improve our health and work towards bigger goals.

Hopefully some of these pointers will help you to get more active during and after lockdown.

AMALAwellness specialize in gentle movement and exercise. Aimee is trained as a  Chair Based Yoga and Exercise fitness instructor. These classes are available both online and in person and Aimee can advise you on the best route to getting you active again!

We would love to hear from you, please get in touch if you would be interested in any of our classes.

Please subscribe to our blog for up-to date information on all our classes and advice on practice!

About The author:

Aimee is a Yoga, Meditation and Chair Based Yoga and Exercise teacher in located in Middlesbrough, England, UK.

To find out more, visit www.amalateesside.com

10 thoughts on “Overcoming Barriers to practice : Anxiety

  1. It’s so important to have some downtime to try and relax and clear your mind. I have only done a few quick meditations before but I have found that they help x

  2. The past few months were really a struggle and made me anxious in so many levels. I love reading this post as I can totally relate.

  3. Like you I’m a yoga teacher, and my practice has been a savior over the last year. I started teaching in-person this week and it’s been so good to be back again!

  4. This is really interesting, I have struggled with anxiety for most of my life, I wish I could find things to help with it but it mostly stems from my being autistic.

  5. Anxiety is a challenge for me, but these are great tips to overcome them. I usually try these when I can.

  6. Getting enough sleep really helps dealing with stress and anxiety. It all boils down to having a solid 8 hour sleep. It is vey important

  7. I think we all need to learn to put aside time for “me time”. It’s so easy not to spend time relaxing and unwinding after a hard day at work.All the tips you have shared are really useful.

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