Use exercise and movement to ease anxiety after lockdown
July 10, 2020
Couple walking holding hands from behind


July 10, 2020


Emotions are all about moving. The clue is in the word: e-motion. They exist to motivate us to move towards something that meets an emotional need, or away from something that could be a danger or barrier to getting needs met.

Our emotions are set off for all sorts of reasons, of course, and we’re not always in a position to be able to move to expel the burst of energy we might receive as a result of feeling something strong.

Right now, some of us are feeling a bit anxious about adjusting to life after lockdown – returning to work or to old routines and habits that we’ve left behind for many months. This is completely natural and normal. Anxiety is nature telling us that we need new ways to meet emotional needs when situations are about to change.

The good news is that our brains are especially good at learning new patterns to adapt quickly. And, the even better news is that we already know a lot of what we will need – we just have to gently reconnect and remember old patterns.

Movement and exercise can help here in two ways.

Firstly, you can use up the energy released by the strong emotion of anxiety. When we exercise and get our heart rate up, we burn off cortisol – the stress hormone that the body releases in response to perceived danger or unmet needs.

And secondly, you can use exercise – either gentle or more energetic – to create new patterns that help you adjust to new environments. To help repattern the brain, maybe choose a familiar journey you haven’t taken for a while, perhaps a walk in a park, or cycle to your place of work or to the shops. The release of endorphins, the ‘feel-good’ hormone, will help code the new pattern positively.

Jon Neal (pictured)
Chief Executive
Suffolk Mind

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