Emotionally sensitive people are often advised to exercise to calm their anxiety or to help overcome depression. Grandmothers, psychiatrists, friends and even strangers often suggest, “Exercise. You’ll feel better.”
In our recent survey, 71.4% of the emotionally sensitive have found exercise helpful in managing their mood. Turns out the research, as reported by John Ratey, MD in his book Spark, shows exercise has a strong effect on mood as well as other important functions of the brain.
Exercise is effective in treating anxiety and panic. Getting active provides a distraction, reduces muscle tension, builds brain resources (increases and balances serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, all important neurotransmitters involved in mood), improves resilience by showing you that you can be effective in controlling anxiety, and breaks the feeling of being trapped and immobilized.
The effects can be equal or even better than medication. The problem is that when people are upset or depressed, they don’t want to exercise.
Establishing a regular exercise program, one that you could maintain when your mood was unpleasant, may be part of the answer. Continuing a routine when you are emotionally dysregulated is easier than starting a new activity. Regular exercise would also help prevent relapse.