I came across this excerpt in an ad promoting inspirational books. It mirrors my own thoughts and actions. These days, the tension builds in my neck and shoulders. At other times it has been in my lower back or stomach or skin. Physical activity – I rely on yoga, bike riding, garden work, zumba, and a quick, brisk walk – brings miraculous assistance, both physical and mental. The real challenge is the inertia; it’s hard to get started when the tendrils of depression and self-doubt are creeping in. I do my best to tear them away before they take hold. Like weeds in the garden, it’s better to pull them out when they’re small than to face them after they’ve taken over.
An excerpt from: The Power of Positive Doing, by B.J. Gallagher: “Action Alleviates Anxiety”
For many years, I suffered from tension headaches with painful symptoms: impaired vision, sensitivity to light, excruciating throbbing in my temples, and sometimes nausea. They were awful. I consulted with doctors and dentists; I tried various medications; I took up meditation and tried bio-feedback. Some things helped a little bit—but nothing seemed very effective for any length of time.
Then I discovered something interesting—that taking action eased my headaches. Physical action was the best—anything that got my body moving. I could mow the lawn, wash the kitchen floor, workout in the gym, do some laundry, work in the garden, wash windows, wax the car—anything physical. Getting my body into action enabled me to work out the tension that was causing the headaches.
Other types of action worked, too—calling a trusted friend and having a good conversation; having sex (though that isn’t always an option); writing in my journal; going for a long, relaxing drive. In short, any action that I can take to dissipate the pent-up tension in my head will do the trick. My head feels better; my neck and shoulders relax; and I feel the satisfaction of having done something.
Perhaps your anxiety doesn’t show up in headaches. Maybe you carry your tension in some other part of your body—your back, your stomach, your shoulders, your intestines, your sinuses. Doctors estimate that as many as 80 percent of the physical problems their patients report are stress-induced!
Taking action to discharge the pent-up energy caused by stress can prevent health problems, and can even cure some of the ones you might already have.
Getting started is half the battle. A body at rest tends to stay at rest and overcoming our own inertia is a huge step forward. If you can get yourself to take just one step forward, you’re now in motion—and a body in motion tends to stay in motion.
When my car won’t start, I call on AAA. When my happiness won’t start, I call on the other Triple A—Action Alleviates Anxiety. So can you!