3 Therapist Tips on Overcoming Exercise Anxiety

Therapist Kasia Tire Flipping in a CrossFit Competition
Therapist Kasia Tire Flipping for Mental Health Wellness.

As a Licensed Professional Counselor in South Carolina and someone who personally experiences exercise anxiety myself, I would love to share some quick tips with you.

I hope you find these 3 tips helpful.

1) Focus on realistic goals. It’s amazingly easy to get distracted by your feelings and insecurities so it’s best to refocus your thoughts. Rather than focusing on those negative thoughts which bring negative emotions, focus on positive thoughts to expose some positive emotions. Remind yourself why you’re doing this. Make sure they are personal. For example, I want to be a good role model for my children so they understand what it means to be healthy or because exercise helps release my anxiety and when I’m less anxious, I’m happier and a better version of myself.

2) Keep it short. Keep the workouts short at first. I always like to say, “set yourself up for success and not failure.” For example, tell yourself that you only have to do 10 minutes on the treadmill. Next time try 12 minutes, the following week work up to 15 minutes. Slow and steady wins the race. Also, it’s rewarding to be able to see progress. Eventually, it will become easier to push through those 10 minutes. Doing 10 minutes on the treadmill sounds a lot more manageable than an hour. And remember to recognize what you’ve just accomplished such as, I’m proud of myself for successfully entering the gym and completing 10 minutes on the treadmill. It makes me feel less anxious and happier.

3) Be nice to yourself. Try to notice how you speak to yourself when you start to feel anxious. Does your language change? Do you start to say things like, I can’t do this, I’m going to look stupid, I’m fat, everyone else is prettier or stronger than me, etc? Our feelings affect our thoughts, just as much as our thoughts affect our feelings. It’s all connected. So, what if we didn’t engage in those negative thoughts? You can drown that negative self-talk by replacing it with positive self-talk. Positive self-talk sounds more like, I can do this, I’m getting stronger, and I look good in my new shoes. And don’t just stop there. Throughout the exercise, continue to encourage yourself by saying such things as, nice job, you got this and, you’re doing great. By doing so, you are also training yourself to become your own personal trainer and cheerleader! Believing in yourself is an essential part of healing and growing as a person.

About Kasia Ciszewski 15 Articles
Mental health therapist who provides counseling services to teens, adults & couples. Specializes in anxiety, stress, grief, bereavement, depression & life transitions.

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