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Article contributed by Sasha Collins
Exclusively for theempowermag.com
Whether you’ve been going to the gym for years or you’re completely new to it all, the chances are you’ve experienced some form of anxiety at the gym.
It’s even worse when coupled with mental health issues like social anxiety or depression, as this particular combination can cause you to skip the gym altogether.
Sonya Waddell‘s article on social anxiety highlights how individuals who suffer from it often avoid exercise completely. This is why anxious thoughts have the tendency to prevent you from going to the gym, but you should try your best to go anyway.
Everyone knows the benefits of exercise, but you should know the consequences of not getting enough physical activity, too. Researchers from the University of Missouri and the University of Columbia found that a lack of exercise is a major contributor to chronic diseases and can significantly decrease both the total and the quality of years someone lives. The increasing number of people who continue to live sedentary lifestyles in the U.S. is extremely alarming. A post by Maryville University points out how half of the population will have a chronic illness by 2025 — that’s a total of 164 million people. These chronic diseases can be prevented by eating healthy and working out regularly. If a long and healthy life sounds good to you, read on to find out how you can overcome gym anxiety:
Focus on yourself
While this may seem counterproductive seeing as your brain is overwhelmed with negativity, taking your mind off other people to focus on your routine can help get rid of your irrational fears. When you’re too busy with your workout and enjoying listening to songs that motivate you, you won’t have time to check if others are judging you — because, they’re not.
Go with someone you trust
If you have a calming presence in your life in the form of a close friend or a partner, invite them to exercise with you. You both benefit from it, as you and your buddy will be able to enjoy a fun workout while bonding at the same time. What’s more, you can share any anxious thoughts that pop into your head with your gym partner, who will most likely be able to help remind you that everything is actually okay.
Go during off-peak times
Ask your friendly gym staff when the off-peak times are and use that information to your advantage. It helps if your gym is open 24/7, as it gives you the option to workout late at night when other people most likely also want to exercise quietly on their own. VeryWell Mind recommends this kind of gradual exposure for individuals with social anxiety, as a slow approach will help you adjust properly. Think of off-peak workouts as practice for going in at regular hours. Taking small steps like this is better than taking no steps at all.
Keep doing it
Remember that the more you go to the gym, the easier it will get for you to work out regularly. Try to accept that you might have some form of anxiety each time, and that’s alright. Use that energy in your workout to really push yourself beyond your comfort zone. However, remember to be kind to yourself and to understand both your physical and mental limits.
Overcoming gym anxiety is not a simple process and it may take a long time for a lot of people. Remember that as long as you are brave enough to take the first steps and show up when you don’t feel like it, you’re already doing so much for yourself despite your fears. Take every step as a new achievement, and a building block to a brighter and healthier future.