Exercise-Induced Anxiety Attacks

Exercise Induced Anxiety AttacksWhile researching for another article, I happened upon a discussion thread about anxiety attacks and exercise. While science has shown that exercise generally lowers anxiety by producing endorphins in the brain, a number of individuals stated that as much as they want to exercise, doing so induces anxiety attacks for them. Obviously, this is a problem. We need to exercise for health, as well as to lower our stress, but how can we do that if the exercise itself produces anxiety attacks?

To be honest, I’ve noticed a similar problem sometimes when I exercise. It’s usually after I’ve been on the bike for about five minutes, right when I’ve gotten warmed up and have raised my resistance on whatever machine I’m on. My heart starts to pump even harder than I expected, and suddenly, distressing thoughts and images come to mind. Worst-case scenarios present themselves, and I feel a quick bout of near depression. My first instinct is to jump off the bike. If I started feeling that way while exercising, isn’t it best to separate myself from the situation?

It’s More Common than You Think

Summer Beretsky wrote about a similar experience in the article, “When Physical Exercise Feels Just Like A Panic Attack for Psychology Today. In it, she talks about how her doctors and friends told her over and over again how getting in shape and exercising regularly would help her lower her anxiety. There’s a Catch-22, however, she says, “exercising made me panic.”

Livestrong.com’s article, “My Anxiety Gets Worse During Exercise,” also notes the struggle for some people who who have anxiety. The article notes that adults are often more aware of signs of anxiety attacks after they’ve had one, which means they’ll be on the lookout for anything that seems like an anxiety attack later on, even if it’s not.

Both articles note the same thing: Anxiety attacks and exercise share certain symptoms, the first being increased heart rate. This means faster breathing, as well as a rush of adrenaline. I’ve also read in online discussions that increased sweat production bothers some people. We can see how it’s easy to confuse the two. And honestly, if you’re trying to avoid anxiety attacks, the last thing you probably want to do is put yourself in a situation where it feels like you’re having another one.

So we know the symptoms match, and we know that it’s easy to confuse exercise and anxiety attack symptoms. The question is, what do we do about it?

Exercise:1 Anxiety:0

I’ll admit that I’ve had the urge to hop off the bike before when it felt like I was having an anxiety attack, particularly when the barrage of anxious thoughts pops up as well (a symptom I haven’t found as much about, but I’m sure others have it, too). But I don’t.

Because I know what it feels like on the other side.

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “Runner’s High.” Well here’s a secret: you don’t have to be a runner to enjoy this “high” everyone talks about. As I discuss in my article, “Exercise Produces Natural Doses of Medicine through Neurotransmitters,” exercise increases the endorphin (“happy chemicals”) in our brains and cuts the stress chemical, cortisol. Believe me when I tell you that the relief is there on the other side of your exercise.

You just have to push through it.

When I’m feeling anxious during that first part of the exercise, I try to find ways to distract myself, such as watching the big TVs in the gym, or reading on my NOOK. Some people who exercise outside find music to be a good distraction. Summer Beretsky suggests starting different types of exercise if the normal ones, such as going to a gym, stress you out. There are many different ways to exercise, from the usual running and bike riding to dance classes to pilates to joining an intramural sports team. Heck, you can do lots of things in your own living room with DVDs or videos from Pinterest if you so desire. No one says you have to begin as a five-star athlete. The goal isn’t competition; it’s maintaining your health in both body and mind.

Just two more personal notes:

(1) If you struggle with anxious thoughts popping up during your exercise, think of your exercise as a purge or a cleanse. I imagine all those negative thoughts floating to the top, and as the exercise continues, I have the change to scoop them up and throw them out. It’s a great way to feel like you’ve taken control, knowing after a workout that you fought back and won.

Exercise Bike and Balance Ball

This is my brand new exercise bike and balance ball for my physical therapy. I cannot express to you how excited I am to have them.

(2) I feel my best when I get a mix of cardio and strength training. I’m not going to get into the necessary ratios of how much cardio one should do as opposed to how much time is spent on strength training. I just have a routine that works for me, one I’ve discovered through trial and error.  I start with cardio, then I have a set of basic exercises I can do with my whopping 3 lb. weights (I have back problems.) that I do and my balance ball. You don’t by any means have to do this. My point is that you need to find what works for you, and this personally works for me.

Exercise is a great way to feel empowered against your anxiety. I’m constantly amazed at how God created our bodies with built in methods to naturally cut anxiety. If you want to begin an exercise regime, but aren’t quite sure how, don’t be afraid to experiment. There are resources galore online. (I’ll be including some of my favorites in my next newsletter.) The important thing is that you don’t give up. Believe me, the payoff is worth it!

Have you ever experienced workout induced anxiety attacks? What did you do to address them? Do you have any tips to share? I’d love to hear your comments and questions, so please post them in the Comment Box below. Also, don’t forget that if you sign up for my weekly newsletter, you’ll get extra resources on neurological disorders, as well as a gift in thanks for signing up. Thanks for reading!

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  • Paul on June 10, 2015 at 8:29 pm said:

    Hello –
    Good article. I’ve suffered from exercise induced anxiety attacks for quite some time now. I guess the tips that I would share revolve around education. I think it’s vital to be educated about exercise and how the body functions at least on a basic level. I didn’t know much of anything when my anxiety symptoms first started. But I’ve become obsessed with research and it only proves how good exercise is for you and that the symptoms are very natural. I’ve recently got into cycling – and what has REALLY helped me was 1) get checked out by my physician and get the ok to exercise (even though I’m a healthy 28 year old male) 2) research thoroughly so you know what’s happening to my body during exercise and 3) this has been my favorite lately is I’ve started training with a heart rate monitor. I know what training zones I’m in and if I feel woozy or anxiety come on during exercise I am able to reassure myself because I know that my heart is pumping fast because I’m forcing it to and it’s healthy and I’m still within healthy ranges. If my max is 192… and I feel like I’m really pushing hard and I don’t feel well… I’m really still only at 180 beats per minute and I’m just exercising hard! Be well!

    • brittanyfichterwrites@gmail.com on June 15, 2015 at 11:34 pm said:

      Thank you. And I agree. Knowing what you’re doing for your body makes it easier to push through the attack. Getting checked out by a physician first could definitely help with giving one peace of mind if worrying it expected. The heart rate monitor could also be really helpful. (I hate having to keep my hands on the monitors on the gym machines.) Thanks for these tips! I hadn’t thought of them!

  • sharp on January 4, 2016 at 6:43 pm said:

    Hi Brittany, Thanks for your article, good one. I have the same thing. Last 10 years when i train intensively (boxing) I suffer from panic attacks at night, just before I fall a sleep. I wake up with a scream a couple of times. Its really annoying. Summer 2014 I experienced huge panic attacks during the day and it took me almost a year to recover with meds and a psych. Now that I have almost recovered I still experience problems when training lightly. I get grumpy, dont feel good, sleep bad and experience anxiety, I would love to find a cure.
    Greets Sharp

    • brittanyfichterwrites@gmail.com on January 7, 2016 at 6:50 pm said:

      That must have been so hard. I hate night anxiety attacks. I feel like attacks during the day are just so much easier to recover from. I’m curious, do you feel better when you’re done with the exercise? I often get all ticcy and stressed when I’m in the middle of my exercise, but once I’m done I feel much better.

  • Natalie on February 14, 2016 at 8:25 pm said:

    I have been struggling with this for a year. I kind of had a traumatic experience having had three miscarriages in a row. I used to run and started getting woozy and feeling like I was going to die on the treadmill. I ran less and less and slower and slower but it didn’t make me feel better. It’s at the point where even walking on the treadmill gives me anxiety now. And I didn’t feel better after running either, I would get anxiety driving home from the gym and when I got home! I’ve been seeing a therapist and taking Zoloft and it has stopped my general anxiety from taking over my life like it started to, but I still can’t run or excerxise without panicking 🙁

  • Jim Turner on March 2, 2016 at 4:19 am said:

    All, studies done in the 1940’s confirm that too much sodium lactate in the body can produce anxiety in predisposed individuals. I stumbled onto this information back in the early 2000s due to panic attacks that would follow vigorous exercise.

  • Jim Turner on March 2, 2016 at 4:24 am said:

    All, what you have experienced is likely related to a build up of lactic acid in your bodies. You see I too suffer from exercise induced panic attacks. Several years ago I stumbled onto research that was done by physicians in the 1940s whereby they injected subjects with sodium lactate to onset a panic attack. In volunteers who were not prone to anxiety experienced no adverse effects; however those prone to anxiety would experience panic attacks.

  • ANDREW JOHNSON on April 23, 2016 at 7:49 pm said:

    I used to be a regular attended in a local gym’s bootcamp class. I could jump rope for 15 minutes straight, etc. Then I started to get anxiety attacks during and sometimes after exercise. I am basically now limited to pull ups, push ups and walking. I really miss my bootcamp class, but everytime I try to get back into cardio I have an anxiety attack. I also have panic attacks without exercising too. I’ve gone to the doctor for countless tests and they all say you are just fine. Really? Very frustrated.

    • brittanyfichterwrites@gmail.com on April 28, 2016 at 7:44 pm said:

      I’m so sorry to hear that 🙁 Yeah, it’s strange how these things can come on! I’ve been anxious before about exercising. Walking in the gym could do that. But once I got started, it usually improved. There are times though now that I have to really work hard to push through it. Have you tried a different kind of class maybe? Perhaps something like martial arts? It may not help at all, but I’ve found that switching up my routines sometimes helps. It keeps my mind occupied and less available to the anxiety.

    • Jose Ramirez on July 17, 2016 at 3:10 am said:

      I have had the same thing as you I used to go 5 times a week to the gym, now after a couple of minutes walking I feel “funny” now all I can do is abs, push-ups and walks (walking is hard tho). Lots of test done and everything is fine. I miss my old self that was way more active no sure how and why did happened. I wish I could go back to my old active self.

  • Arthur on May 3, 2016 at 12:28 pm said:

    I’m one of those people who associates exercise with anxiety. Now, I’m not a doctor, so this may be completely incorrect, but this is what I think is happening.

    The anxious person like me constantly tries to keep himself calm. Exercise raises the heartbeat, alerts the mind, wakes the muscles up. Person’s brain goes “Oh no, oh no oh no! I’m agitated!? What’s going on?! This needs to end, this is not good, this is how panic attacks happen” and so you, without any choice, feel like exercise is giving you anxiety, and feel like you need to stop and relax your brain and calm yourself down.

    • brittanyfichterwrites@gmail.com on May 6, 2016 at 2:52 pm said:

      I’m not a doctor either, but I think you’re absolutely right for some cases. I’ve had other individuals tell me that the same thing happens to them! Have you found a way to work around this struggle? I know a lot of people would love hearing about it if you have.

      • Arthur on May 6, 2016 at 8:08 pm said:

        Well, dopamine inhibitors ( in a form of a very low dose antipsychotic) worked wonders for me. Before that, I could trick myself into exercise, but I never really “felt” like I could do it comfortably. I would push myself through it, and knew I would be fine, but didn’t feel like it.

  • Tony F. on May 19, 2016 at 4:59 pm said:

    I can totally relate to this and all of you. God, is it frustrating! I grew up playing sports and never thought about such a thing. As I got older I became less active. Now that I am 40, I am definitely a bit out of shape and need to exercise more. So I just started a strength training program. It’s pretty intense, gets my heart rate up, etc. I’m pretty mindful of hydrating, eating properly, and all that; but inevitably I feel ‘off’ the next day. I guess my body is just fatigued and in shock from what it has gotten used to. I’m gonna give it a few weeks and see if it gets better. Right now, though, it kinda sucks. I just feel anxious (palms sweating, elevated heart rate, etc.).

    Anyway, hopefully I can break through all this. I really want to exercise regularly again. I felt it helped with my anxiety when I was younger. It sucks that the thing that helped now became the thing that makes me feel worse. Life is fun, eh?

  • Charlotte on May 20, 2016 at 12:24 pm said:

    I have health anxiety and panic attacks related ti this. I have signed up for a 5k charity fun run (you don have to run). I have never willingly done anything like this. I am very overweight (have recently lost 3 stone, still probably 6 stone overweight). I started to excersise in the gym. The whole thing made me anxious. My heart rate is normally in the 70s but it goes up to 110 odd before I have even set foot on the treadmill. According to the chart on the treadmill my cardio target is 144.. I reach this just by walking. . Anyway.. I have tried pushing it.. a minutes jogging, I go on the cross trainer, etc and have had to stop as as soon as my heart rate goes too high I can feel the anxiety kicking in. The other week my hr went up to 174.. anxiety attack started and I stopped exceeding but my hr continued to rise which panicked me even more. I was convinced I was having a heart attack. My monitor on the phone couldn’t even get a sensible reading. I went to docs who suggested a 24 hour ecg. When I had it on I thought I’d better excersise (no point just sitting about) so I went for a long walk. When I got to a quiet spot I thought I’d try a little jog – I was so nervous. I have never run in public before do I thought I’d do 30 paces and see how it felt.. not too bad.. so I upped it to 60 paces.. I count as I go which takes my mind off it a bit.. then i went back to walking. I was buzzing! It really did wonders for my confidence. At the gym now I use the heart rate monitor. I am comfortable at 150bpm (walking rate). So walk then when I am ready I jog 60 paces.. then go back to walking speed. I take my hr which is normally around 165-170 after the jog and I walk and watch it go down again to 150.. when it hits 150 I jog another 60 paces and so on. If I feel the anxiety rising (like if someone uses the machine next to me) I talk myself down, but it makes me feel in control. I hope I will be able to increase to 90 paces at a time soon and then increase more as my fitness improves, but using my heart rate rather than being scared by it has def made me enjoy doing it for the first time in my life.. I am so proud of my body for doing what it us supposed to!

    • brittanyfichterwrites@gmail.com on May 28, 2016 at 7:41 pm said:

      That’s awesome! It’s funny that you mentioned this on the day you did. I was actually wondering what would happen if someone slowly worked their way up from a walking or really slow biking pace. That’s just awesome! I don’t run (I have feet problems), so I don’t know what it’s like to experience this with running. Way to go! If you don’t mind, maybe keep us updated on here on how everything goes as you continue your training!

  • Dominic on June 12, 2016 at 4:43 am said:

    I experience this as well. Happy to know im not alone. I had my first panic attack at the gym and initially thought it was a supplement I was taking. I Cut out caffeine basically and still had the panic attacks associated with exercise. I knew it was a panic disorder when I started having them without exercise. It became so horrific I didn’t leave my house for almost a month. I ended up going to the hospital and got an all clear after they checked my heart etc. It’s very weird, some days I will get them just thinking about exercise, and some days not at all. With medication and therapy, I am doing a lot better, but still get frustrated with it. I am happy to know I’m not a lone.

    • brittanyfichterwrites@gmail.com on July 1, 2016 at 4:56 am said:

      That’s awful! I’m glad to hear the therapy is helping though! I’m curious, what kind of exercise do you do? Have you changed the types of exercise you’ve attempted since experiencing this problem? I’ve had to change my exercise regimen before because of anxiety 🙁

  • Kim on July 2, 2016 at 2:01 pm said:

    I have what I can only think are panic attacks when doing speed work or hill repeats. I will get half way though a 1 km repeat or 400m hill and my breathing becomes labored (obviously it would because I am running hard!) and then I start to panic because I think I am not getting enough oxygen and it just spirals from there. I really think I am going die for a few seconds and swear I won’t do this exercise again. Sometimes I even did my nails into me to calm down. These ‘panic attacks’ then become an issue on races so that I slow down to catch my breath and then it affects the time I want to achieve on the race and that physically I know I could do if I could just stop the panicking… This has only become a problem as I have entered my 40’s. It is terribly frustrating…

    • brittanyfichterwrites@gmail.com on July 16, 2016 at 3:59 am said:

      This sounds terrible. 🙁 I can’t run because of feet problems, but I can only imagine how hard that would be. What type of races do you run? I’ve had times where some sorts of exercises suddenly make me anxious, and I have no idea why. It’s like the anxiety attacks have their own agenda.

  • Ross Brown on July 27, 2016 at 2:47 am said:

    I’m totally dealing with this issue right now as I attempt to train for a marathon. I had panic attacks nearly three years ago. Lifestyle chances and prayer helped me overcome them in daily living, but it’s easy for me to stumble into them again when I exercise because the symptoms are basically identical.

    I’m going to get a physical and ask my doc for a stress test. My gut tells me that I just need to push through this, but my mind always comes back with all the “what ifs”. The doctor appointment should settle those. Then it’s just a matter of courage I suppose. I’m glad to know other people experience this as well. Thanks for writing this post!

    • brittanyfichterwrites@gmail.com on July 27, 2016 at 3:01 am said:

      That’s awful to hear. I’m glad to hear that you’re going to the doctor though. Perhaps that will help you find the source of your stress. I wish we knew better why our bodies react to certain situations and stimuli in different ways. If you don’t mind, please let us know how things are going down the road.

  • Ross Brown on August 2, 2016 at 2:10 am said:

    I’ve got my physical scheduled for this Friday, and I’m getting connected with a gym that I think will be a really good fit for me. They have everyone hooked up to heart rate monitors, and it’s also a medical facility. I’m not actually worried about needing any medical attention, but it should help me put that “what if” panic aside as I work to gain confidence in my physical self again. I’ll keep you in the loop! 🙂

  • Eric on August 3, 2016 at 9:16 pm said:

    I started exercising regularly (again) about 6mos ago and spend a considerable time doing the aerobic machines. I usually have panic attacks during my exercise but even though I do I realize it’s not anything physical- it’s just thoughts that come up I’m not fully in touch with. When you’re stationary for 60mins your mind has a lot of time to wander.

    I’ve had anxiety issues most of my life and while I’m tempted to jump off the machines when I have an attack I know I’ll be better off if I don’t.

    Ironically I use the exercise to manage my anxiety, and sometimes it causes it.

    • brittanyfichterwrites@gmail.com on August 28, 2016 at 3:20 am said:

      That’s awesome that you’re able to stay on! And I know exactly what you mean about using the exercise to manage my anxiety. I have anxiety attacks more if I’m not exercising regularly. It’s weird because I often have the burst of adrenaline while I’m exercising, so when I realize what’s happening, I push myself really hard until the adrenaline’s all spent. Have you ever tried reading or watching TV or listening to a podcast while exercising? I really have to watch what kind of music I listen to, as it can affect my mood, but I have to keep busy while exercising. Just sitting there is a personal recipe for disaster.

  • Sean Brady on August 9, 2016 at 3:41 pm said:

    I was overweight for my height think I was 287 when I started going to the gym and got all the way down to 240. At 41 I was close to the best shape of my life. I had a nutrition plan I was following for those 3 months and everything was fine. Then 1 day I was at work and collapsed my heart really hurt, couldn’t breathe, dizzy, jittery, (I had a heart attack at 26 so I knew it wasn’t that) but it was scary enough they rushed me to the ER only for them to say you’re suffering from anxiety. The frustration set in because I couldn’t get the anxiety to stop. After 3 more ER visits and thousands of dollars in hospital visits later I was finally able to secure a face to face with a psychiatrist. She prescribed me some medication which I’ve taken now for almost 2 weeks. It helped me right away and I felt alot better no more depression and only small tremors of anxiety here and there. I started going back to the gym to try and stay healthy. Yesterday was my 4th day back and today I have been fighting a severe attack all morning. The only thing I can think that I’ve done differently is go back to the gym. It’s frustrating feeling like you have finally found what works for you only for the anxiety to overpower that medication!! I hate feeling this way and just want to be back to my old self for me and my wife and kids!! Debilitating is an understatement

    • brittanyfichterwrites@gmail.com on August 28, 2016 at 3:16 am said:

      Great job with getting healthy! I’m so sorry to hear about the anxiety attacks though! How awful for you and your family! I don’t know if this will help at all, but sometimes I have to change my workout routine up sometimes in order to keep my mind a little more occupied. I also need a distraction like a book, TV show, music, or a podcast. I have to be careful with my music in particular because it can heavily influence my mood if I’m not careful. I hope you can find a workout routine that works for you very soon. If you don’t mind, I would love to hear how you’re doing in a bit!

  • David on September 24, 2016 at 1:46 am said:

    Interesting discussion, one big factor that I believe is often overlooked is the quality of air and ventilation in a Gym. Alot of Gyms do not have fresh air, you are breathing heavier and faster but it is all stale air and that will not make you feel great. If I run on a treadmill indoors I often feel weak and poorly afterwards, if I run outdoors in genuinely fresh air (sadly hard to do in big cities) I feel fantastic. Gyms are over subscribed, perfectly normal that not everyone likes or enjoys them. Exercise in a more natural environment and see if you feel better. Also quality enjoyable fresh air exercise is definitely a way to offset anxiety but it can induce it too probably with heart beat up and so on, I find if I exercise on an empty stomach this can happen. We are all unique and need to do what works for each of us but it is perfectly normal and clearly quite common, this exercise induced anxiety. Best to all.

  • Veronica on October 15, 2016 at 11:07 pm said:

    I just stumbled on this and while I’m not happy with what is going on with me, I feel better that it’s not just me. In 2010 I started running and worked my way up to a full marathon. After most races and ALL races over 10 miles I had terrible anxiety. Not during the race, but after. It would last for hours and was a terrible feeling. Extreme fatigue, heart palpitations, sweating, chills, the all-to-familiar “I’m going to die” panic attacks. I have suffered with anxiety for a very long time, so I attributed it, then, to the social stress of the events, not the actual exercise. I have very intense social anxiety when there is a new situation that has a lot of details to worry about. Getting up on time, where to park, where the starting line is, picking up my packet, who I might see there, the list goes on and on. So now, six years later I decided I missed the running and started again. I wasn’t stressed about it because I knew the routine. I ran a 5k this morning, short distance, no big deal, or so I thought. I didn’t leave my house stupid early (previously I would be at a race a full hour and a half beforehand and spend that time working myself up into to a social/race anxiety state of ridiculous) and I found easy parking and was only about 20 minutes early. Race went fine, better than expected, I placed second in my age group! BUT, I had an awful day at work. General anxiety trying very hard to erupt into a full blown panic attack the whole day. I had to leave early and cancel my evening plans because I just couldn’t calm down. So now I think it’s definitely the exercise. I don’t know what to do. I was excited to compete again and now I just want to quit.

    • brittanyfichterwrites@gmail.com on November 26, 2016 at 7:30 pm said:

      First of all, I’m impressed with your running abilities! I wish I could do that. I’m so sorry to hear, however, that you’re struggling with the anxiety attacks like you are. It’s so miserable to find something you love and then feel like you have to leave it. Have you talked to your doctor about this? Is there a way to try and build a positive association by immediately rewarding yourself with something after the race? I had to briefly quit going to Sunday School classes in college because the classroom it was held in looked too much like a college lecture hall. Once I was in a different environment, however, I was able to start attending again. Changing my routine and environment helped. Please let us know how it goes! We’d love to hear your progress here.

  • Andy on December 27, 2016 at 11:40 am said:

    8 years ago ,when I was 45 I was still a huge sport addict playing football cricket and golf then after an event in my life general anxiety set in , so my sport became more and more difficult as I started noticing the fuzzy lightheaded feelings during the games it got so bad I at 53 years cannot even play a round of golf and find a 50meter walk gives me the lightheaded anxious feelings , I’ve been on all sorts of anti anxiety medication and although some help with the gad , none seem to help the exercise problems, I have been to the cardio doc and numerous ecg and ruled out problems there , life is so frustrating as I still feel like a 20 year old inside and still want to do so much. It’s a comfort that I seem not to be the only one suffering but just wish the doctors would understand as I’m sure there must be more they can do rather than just palm us off with anxiety melds.

  • Eric on April 12, 2017 at 6:28 pm said:

    Thank you for this post. I’ve suffered from this too and am currently training for a very intense ballet performance. There is one part that is more intense than anything I’ve ever done, and it triggered panic attacks on multiple occasions. Now I can’t sleep at night worrying about my next rehearsal. I just don’t want to experience that feeling ever again!

    The panic always sets in right after I’m done when I’m trying to calm my breathing. What’s helping me is to tap my fingers together either along with the music or in a complicated pattern to force my brain to think about something other than the sensation that I’m dying. I also remind myself of all the times I’ve felt this way and been fine. When I manage things well, it ends very quickly. Yesterday, I barely had an attack at all.

    That said, sitting at my desk writing about this, my heart is pounding, lol. Oh well, I’m going to keep trying. Luckily for me, I have the right amount of pressure and support to keep my trying, so I think I’ll be able to break through this. It’s tough as hell though

    • brittanyfichterwrites@gmail.com on April 24, 2017 at 2:10 am said:

      I’m so sorry to hear you’re struggling with this kind of anxiety. That has to be so hard! I used to clog competitively, and though the dancing itself was good for my anxiety and tics, I had a lot of anxiety that would build up prior to performances and competitions. It’s awesome to hear that you’ve found ways to manage the stress. I hope, however, that you can find ways to lower it even more in the future. I also find that physical activity helps me to deal with the stress, even small movements like the finger tapping you mentioned. If you ever want to chat and let off some steam, you can email me at BrittanyFichterFiction@gmail.com. I’d love to be a listening ear if that’s what you need 🙂 I hope your performance went well and that you can let down a bit when it’s done, no matter how it turned out. Sometimes I had a hard time remembering that my performances were important, but they weren’t going to make or break my future. 🙂

  • Emily on May 4, 2017 at 5:22 pm said:

    I have anxiety attacks during my hard distance workouts a lot and I usually start wheezing, and it progressively gets worse until I stop running, but when I stop running, the rest of my anxiety attack symptoms will quickly rush on as well. It makes it hard to continue to run, but at the same time, I know it will get worse if I stop.

    • brittanyfichterwrites@gmail.com on May 11, 2017 at 1:28 am said:

      I’m sorry to hear that. 🙁 Running seems to be a common trigger for this kind of anxiety attack. I’m curious, does it usually happen when you’re running for other workouts, say for soccer or basketball or tennis or such? Or is it when you’re just running? And yes, I’ve had that same feeling. “If I stop now, the anxiety attack will hit head on, but if I push through, it will eventually end…”

  • Jennifer on August 10, 2017 at 9:31 am said:

    Hi. It’s 2:21 in the morning and I’m afraid of having another anxiety laden, sleepless night 🙁 I’m 32 and have had panic attacks on and off for the past 14 years. The last 3 years of my life have been really difficult as I was in a very toxic and abusive relationship that ended in a very scary situation with me being attacked by my ex boyfriend and receiving a concussion and black eye. I recently had to go to court and had to face my abuser and that seems to have triggered my anxiety attacks tenfold. I also get very bad anxiety if I overexert myself too much usually from walking all day pushing my kids around in the stroller as we no longer have a car. If I walked too much that day I can’t sleep that night because I’m afraid I am going to die and honestly feel like I am about to have a heart attack and have chest pain and my heart rate shoots up. I’ve had really bad insomnia those nights because I’m afraid of also dying in my sleep from over exertion. I used to take dance classes and pushed myself hard during my workouts and have always enjoyed being active but I’ve become afraid of exercising and doing long walks because I always get these attacks. Being in the midst of one right now is not fun at all. I miss being able to exercise and feel good. I walked 9 miles today pushing the stroller and feel so awful. It helps to read that so many others have this same anxiety but it also makes me sad to know that so many others are suffering.

    • brittanyfichterwrites@gmail.com on September 3, 2017 at 8:06 pm said:

      That must be so hard. I can’t imagine what you’re going through, particularly with little ones to take care of. I know money is probably pretty tight right now, but is there any way for you to access counseling? I’m not a health professional of any kind, so I can’t diagnose, but I can only guess that, like you said, the anxiety attacks were triggered by the traumatic events you’ve experienced. I don’t know what area you’re in, but I know there are organizations out there that offer help for individuals who have been abused, and I believe some of them offer counseling as well. Perhaps try to see if there’s such an organization in your area, or even one with a help line you can reach. Hopefully, if you can get to the heart of the matter, healing for the trauma you’ve experienced, these anxiety attacks will abate. Again, I’m so sorry. You have so much of my respect for all you’re continuing to do for your children, walking them that far in their stroller while facing anxiety attacks. It takes a lot of strength just to keep going the way you are. Don’t forget that.

  • AlexaFaie on November 15, 2017 at 5:16 pm said:

    I struggle a lot with this myself. What makes it worse for me is that an adrenaline rush (which is what would cause the “runners high”) is the same as a fear response (fight or flight) which because of my ptsd, just further triggers my anxiety. So whilst you’re saying to push through the anxiety to get the endorphin rush, that very rush causes me further anxiety. I don’t get anxious thoughts (I know I’m not having a heart attack and am not worried about anything like that) it’s the feelings I don’t like and which make me anxious.

    Raised heartbeat, short breath, and sweating makes me feel so damn awful. It’s disgusting – I am literally disgusted by those things to the point if feeling nauseous.

    The only kind of exercise I can deal with is stuff which is not obviously exercise. So for example walking around town if I am looking around the shops. Or walking to get somewhere I need to go. If I don’t need to go anywhere, going out for a walk causes me anxiety. It has done even as a child when I used to go out and ride my bike around the area I lived. It’s only more recently that I’ve realised the association with needing there to be a purpose to where I’m going. Just going out to come back again doesn’t do it for me – similarly neither does walking on a treadmill.

    Other than that I like ice skating but there is nowhere near me I can do that and even if there was, I couldn’t afford it. I found a swimming pool not too far away (requires a bus journey then a short walk) but leaving the house on my own gives me anxiety too! So I haven’t managed to get the courage to go yet. If I was just going swimming with friends to sort of “play” then it feels different, but since I’d be going to exercise, I hate the feeling of being watched. Logically I know that people won’t be paying me much attention at all, but my anxious brain doesn’t give a damn about that!

    I’d love help and advice for getting more active within the home but most of what I’ve found I don’t understand. What I do understand I’ve found that I can’t do because my hypermobile joints won’t let me hold correct form and I have no idea how to adjust for that. Lots of places say to try yoga/pilates but the physio I went to a while back said that my tendons are too lax and the only thing keeping my joint in place are my muscles so stretches are not a good idea for me.

    So I’m like what do I do? Cardio stuff causes me too much anxiety, weights force my joints out of place plus my muscle tone us so poor that 500g is too much to work with (and the only things I have to use as weights are tins of beans) not to mention the thought of doing the same thing over and over bores me. What exactly is left?

    Oh yeah and it has to be something I can do without a sports bra as I’ve been unable to find one which fits my UK 32G very close set breasts (have been fitted at M&S, John Lewis, Debenhams, and Bravissimo and none of those places had anything that fitted my shape and body proportions (it’s like you can’t have a short torso and massive boobs). The best “fitting” ones were less supportive than the Bravissimo Satine plunge bra I usually wear. They are meant to reduce jiggle! Not increase it!

    I keep trying to find advice and then each time I look just end up more demoralised because nothing seems to be quite right. If it works for one thing, it doesn’t for another.

    • brittanyfichterwrites@gmail.com on December 31, 2017 at 6:50 pm said:

      I’m so sorry to hear this. I really am. Obviously, the same thing will not work for everyone. What works for me might not work for you. Have you tried a dance class or group exercise? I’m a particular fan of Zumba. If you stand in the back or to the side, no one can see you, and you won’t feel the same kind of pressure that you might up front. (This doesn’t bother me, but I’ve found it does bother a lot of people.) Dance is fun because very few people actually know what they’re doing, and everyone is there for fun and health. And, of course, talk to your doctor if you haven’t already. Maybe he or she can help you explore new avenues that you haven’t before.

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