I can't sleep or exercise because I'm anxious but I need to sleep and exercise because I'm anxious

I have this issue that makes my mind blather incessantly.

"Do I need a towel on my trip?"
"I've gotta remember change for the bus tomorrow."
"How many bridesmaids want their hair done for the wedding?
"I need to exercise tomorrow morning. For sure this time."
"What should the groomsmen's boutonnières look like?

Thinking is great but it's annoying when you're trying to sleep. You might call it scatter-brained (and I often do), but when it's intrusive I call it something else: anxiety.

Lucky for you, there are two wonderful supplements to help you cope with anxiety: sleep and exercise. But there's a problem with that—if your anxiety keeps you up at night, you lose both. Tomorrow gets slogged with too-bitter coffee, and by the end of the day, there's nothing left. Any exercise beyond flopping on the couch is a far-off fantasy.

If you were getting enough sleep and exercising regularly though, you'd be fine! Easy enough, right? It's a hokey notion that's easy to poke holes through. We know these things, but why is it so damn hard to do? Oh, that's right, because we're living human beings.

I get it. It's hard. But it's not impossible, and at some point you need to throw yourself out of your ears and just do it. (Thanks, Nike.)

I struggled this morning. I wanted to exercise but I didn't, and I started crafting my excuses: I didn't get enough sleep last night, I don't want to be gross when I go to the airport today, I want to spend more time with my fiancé before I leave, etc.

Stop that dialogue. It's B.S. and you know it. I asked myself, "is there anything physically keeping me from going to the gym this morning?" The answer was no. The gym didn't burn down, my car still works, and my clothes were even laid out for me the night before. I planned on going and now I need to go. The extra half hour of sleep isn't helpful anyways.

The hardest part is rolling out of bed and getting there, and once you've done that, everything gets better. Even if you don't perform 100 percent, a good workout is challenging and that effort counts. And by showing up, you've torn a link out of the anxiety cycle and moved it into the peaceful cycle.

The Peaceful Cycle

The Anxiety Cycle

When you exercise—especially early in the morning, which is my favorite time to do it—you're naturally more tired when it's time for bed, plus you start your day with a dose of synergized energy and serenity. Then you can get more sleep, and then you can exercise again, and now you're feeling better.

Yes, life will get in the way again. And no, anxiety doesn't just go away forever with enough sleep and exercise. You'll find yourself getting pulled back into the anxiety cycle, but you don't have to stay there. Check your B.S. excuses and break the cycle.

What are your favorite coping skills for anxiety?


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