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Post-workout anxiety

bin_tenn

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I don't know if this is a "thing", but I imagine it is. After I work out (mostly been lifting weights) I feel mildly anxious. I assume it's because of the changes the body goes through which resemble anxiety symptoms - shakiness, maybe a bit of weakness, increased heart rate and breathing rate, etc. I know that for me, any time I feel a sensation that resembles anxiety - even if it's unrelated to anxiety - I begin feeling anxious, thinking I'm going to have a panic attack.

I won't let this discourage me from working out and getting more in shape / healthier. However, is there anything particular I can do to reduce the anxiety after working out? Or should I just continue using my normal techniques? Also, is this something that could go away over time, as I continue to work out and become more physically fit?

I definitely feel like my overall mood will improve when I'm in better shape. I just don't want to feel the anxiety when I rest after the fact, every time. Haha.

Thanks in advance, friends!
 

Fraser

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Working out usually helps with anxiety (unless it exasperates specific symptoms that I'm worried about, like lower back pain).

I think you need to keep working out, but it sounds like the results of a work out are triggering your fear that you might have a panic attack, which in turn makes you feel more anxiety, which in turn, etc etc (cycles of anxiety!). So I wonder if a technique of preparing yourself for how you will feel after your workout might help. For instance, literally writing down a kind of note to your future self. Something like:

"After working out it is normal to feel shaky and weak and to have elevated heart and breathing rates. This is the result of my workout and a sign that my body is responding appropriately to the exercise. This exercise is improving my health and my mood and the feelings I am experiencing are good for me."

Then, when you are done working out, you pick that note up and read it (more than once if necessary). Maybe even repeat what you write out as a mantra while doing patterned breathing for a few minutes (depending on your level of anxiety). Now I know these kind of things, and actually writing out and reading it, might sound silly or cheesy in the abstract, but in practice drawing our attention to rational and corrective patterns of thought and responses to stimulus are a major part of how we can make progress with health anxiety. The act of writing it out helps to make it more concrete in your mind.

I don't have any formal training in giving advice in these matters, this is just a thought arising from similar things I've seen in CBT therapy.
 
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bin_tenn

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Working out usually helps with anxiety (unless it exasperates specific symptoms that I'm worried about, like lower back pain).

I think you need to keep working out, but it sounds like the results of a work out are triggering your fear that you might have a panic attack, which in turn makes you feel more anxiety, which in turn, etc etc (cycles of anxiety!). So I wonder if a technique of preparing yourself for how you will feel after your workout might help. For instance, literally writing down a kind of note to your future self. Something like:

"After working out it is normal to feel shaky and weak and to have elevated heart and breathing rates. This is the result of my workout and a sign that my body is responding appropriately to the exercise. This exercise is improving my health and my mood and the feelings I am experiencing are good for me."

Then, when you are done working out, you pick that note up and read it (more than once if necessary). Maybe even repeat what you write out as a mantra while doing patterned breathing for a few minutes (depending on your level of anxiety). Now I know these kind of things, and actually writing out and reading it, might sound silly or cheesy in the abstract, but in practice drawing our attention to rational and corrective patterns of thought and responses to stimulus are a major part of how we can make progress with health anxiety. The act of writing it out helps to make it more concrete in your mind.

I don't have any formal training in giving advice in these matters, this is just a thought arising from similar things I've seen in CBT therapy.
That makes sense. I may give the note idea a try, if I don't find another way around it (e.g. it just dissipates as I get more used to it). Thanks for the input. Anxiety has prevented me from doing a lot of things, but I refuse to let that continue.
 

Fraser

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That makes sense. I may give the note idea a try, if I don't find another way around it (e.g. it just dissipates as I get more used to it). Thanks for the input. Anxiety has prevented me from doing a lot of things, but I refuse to let that continue.
I think it will totally dissipate as you get more used to it.
 

bin_tenn

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I think it will totally dissipate as you get more used to it.
Awesome!

On an unrelated topic, and only because I feel chatty - haha! One of the kids came home sick from school yesterday (vomiting). They're fine today, haven't vomited since yesterday morning. But, being anxious about throwing up, my stomach is uneasy today. It's possible I caught a bug - and if I did, I know I will survive! On the other hand, it's very possibly psychosomatic. If someone around me so much as says their stomach feels uneasy, I suddenly feel sick. What a joke.
 

suzzeeb

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I can totally relate. I haven't thrown up since I was a child (55 now) lol, and I have such a fear of that. One time my daughter and son in law were staying with us with my 1 year old grandson at the time, and they all came down with the stomach flu. I totally freaked out and packed a bag and went a motel for 2 days! A little extreme I realize, but I just knew with all of them sick I would get sick too. I came home and bleached everything I could think of. I also have a niece with a fear of getting sick and has pepto bismol with her all the time. The mind is so weird!
 

bin_tenn

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I can totally relate. I haven't thrown up since I was a child (55 now) lol, and I have such a fear of that. One time my daughter and son in law were staying with us with my 1 year old grandson at the time, and they all came down with the stomach flu. I totally freaked out and packed a bag and went a motel for 2 days! A little extreme I realize, but I just knew with all of them sick I would get sick too. I came home and bleached everything I could think of. I also have a niece with a fear of getting sick and has pepto bismol with her all the time. The mind is so weird!
Lucky! Haha! I'm almost 34. It doesn't happen often at all anymore, but still sucks when it does. :(
 

Iugrad91

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Binn, as an avid exercise freak, I can tell you the shaky, weak, tired, “anxious” feeling is just post workout exhaustion. Your muscles are tired, maybe drinking a protein shake or eating something light would help to give your body a little fuel since it just burned a bunch of calories. Keep it going! Don’t let that wonky feeling stop you from exercising. Working out is the main thing that keeps my anxiety at bay. When I don’t make time to work out my anxiety can spike. Working up a good sweat makes me feel more relaxed the rest of the day and also helps me sleep better.
 

bin_tenn

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Binn, as an avid exercise freak, I can tell you the shaky, weak, tired, “anxious” feeling is just post workout exhaustion. Your muscles are tired, maybe drinking a protein shake or eating something light would help to give your body a little fuel since it just burned a bunch of calories. Keep it going! Don’t let that wonky feeling stop you from exercising. Working out is the main thing that keeps my anxiety at bay. When I don’t make time to work out my anxiety can spike. Working up a good sweat makes me feel more relaxed the rest of the day and also helps me sleep better.
Thanks for that! Yeah, I know it's normal. I even expect it, yet I still feel mildly anxious about it sometimes. But indeed, I'm not letting it stop me. I started a week ago, and I've been doing it consistently, so hopefully I can keep motivated. I know once I start seeing (or feeling) results I will have more motivation.
 

TruthHurts

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I can totally relate to this Bin, I think it's just because during your exercise your heart rate is elevated for a period of time so when you start to slow down you become aware of the change in your body. It makes a lot of sense if you think about it today I checked my pulse during my 1,000 jumping jacks it was in the 150's. When you slow down and quit exercising your heart rate drops rather fast that is what you are noticing.
 

bin_tenn

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I can totally relate to this Bin, I think it's just because during your exercise your heart rate is elevated for a period of time so when you start to slow down you become aware of the change in your body. It makes a lot of sense if you think about it today I checked my pulse during my 1,000 jumping jacks it was in the 150's. When you slow down and quit exercising your heart rate drops rather fast that is what you are noticing.
Yep. Several years ago I was walking/jogging occasionally and watching my heart rate sometimes, and it'd get to 160+. Didn't bother me while exercising, but as soon as I stopped I'd notice. Haha.
 

bin_tenn

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I wanted to post an update. I did better today. Yesterday was the arm workouts. Today I did squats, sit ups, crunches, lunges and even some jumping jacks. So far, so good, I haven't had any anxiety from it.

I don't know if it's coincidental, or if the >1 week of consistent exercise has made a difference, but I have been feeling a little better overall. Not only my mood, but my breathing feels a bit smoother as well, if that makes sense.

Tomorrow is back to the arm workouts. I've also been eating better before and after workouts. Mostly whole grain bread (toast usually), eggs, fruit. Feels good!
 
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