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Curb Your Anxiety and Get Off that Couch
Curb Your Anxiety and Get Off that Couch

Laziness is not defined as a mental disorder but rather as a habit. The causes of sedentary behavior may be due to a lack or low self esteem, lack of discipline, a lack of motivation or interest in being active or a lack of recognition. Laziness can manifest as indecisiveness or procrastination which can be caused by the lack of motivation. The lack of motivation increases the release of dopamine which is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for pleasure and reward.

In order to lead a healthy lifestyle, we need to spend less time sitting down and spend at least 150 minutes a week being active. Couch potato syndrome is common in all age groups and has been linked to certain types of cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes and early death. Sitting for lengthy periods affects our body's ability to regulate blood pressure, break down fat due to slowing down of the metabolic rate and regulating blood sugars.

Leading a sedentary lifestyle can contribute and become a risk factor for:

* weakening and shrinking of the muscles - muscle atrophy is caused by lack of exercise which increases the risk of physical injury

* weak immune system – lack of physical fitness is more often than not accompanied by a weak immune system

* non-adaptive stress and metabolic related responses – can lead to chronic diseases

* Mental health issues – a sedentary lifestyle can lead to apathy, anger, substance abuse, depression, freeloading, and anxiety

Studies have revealed that the longer we sit the greater the risk of developing anxiety symptoms. However, these studies did not include mental health illnesses and the diagnosis of anxiety. The studies conducted were symptomatic with the aim of finding a link between anxiety levels and sedentary behavior. A couch potato displaying anxiety symptoms does not necessarily mean they have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

What Causes Stress and How Can We Control It

An overload of life's demands, emotional and mental pressure can turn into stress and when we feel we can no longer cope this can lead to depression. We all have different ways in which we react to stress, particularly money problems, relationships and work. When we are stressed it can affect our everyday lives.

Stress can lead to anxiety and affects how we behave, think and feel. Common signs of stress can include excessive sweating, concentration difficulties, irritability, low self esteem, poor appetite and difficulty sleeping. We may experience muscle tension, dizziness, pain and headaches when stressed.

There is no quick fix cure and no single method for stress that works for everyone. However, there are some simple things we can do to change our common everyday life problems that cause stress and anxiety. These include yoga, meditation, relaxation techniques, diet, exercise and talking these issue through with a qualified person.

Age Specific Suggestions to Reduce Sitting Time and the Onset of Anxiety

* Children under 5 – studies have shown that sedentary behavior in young children has been associated with lower cognitive development and obesity. Children that sit for extended periods have shown signs of agitation, anxiety and hyperactivity. Parents need to reduce the time their child spends in baby bouncers, carriers, highchairs, car seats, buggies and reduce time spent watching TV. Provide more indoor and out door activities that will stimulate the child and enhance their cognitive development.

* Ages 5 to 18 – If children learn from a young age to become active, the chances of them becoming a couch potato is limited. Studies have shown that children in this age group that have already developed the “couch potato syndrome” are more prone to ADD, anxiety, depression and other illnesses . Parents can reduce sitting time by making bedrooms a computer and TV free zone. Buy your children gifts that will encourage active play such as kites, balls, skateboards etc. Parents should also set an example by reducing their sitting based tasks and TV time. Get your children involved in outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming or surfing.

* Ages 19 to 64 – people in this age group commonly display anxiety symptoms, depression, poor blood circulation, heart disease and other chronic illnesses cause by sitting for extended periods. Throughout the day one should make an effort to cut down on sitting time be it at home or at work. Instead of taking the escalator take the stairs, while on your cell phone walk around or stand, when having a coffee break or walk around. If you are working on a computer, make sure you get up and stand or walk around every 30 minutes. Participate in active hobbies and cut down on TV and sitting time.

* Ages 65 and Over – studies have revealed that this age group is the most sedentary and are known to spend around ten hours or more a day lying or sitting. Cardiovascular disease is common in this age group as is diabetes type 2 and depression. Many in this age group present with mental illnesses as well as anxiety symptoms. This age group should spend more time on their feet and avoid extended TV or reading time. One can take up hobbies such as light sport activities, gardening or DIY projects.

When life becomes very stressful, we tend to alienate ourselves from family and friends. Behavior of this nature can lead us to becoming couch potato's of which can spiral into depression, obesity, low self esteem, procrastination and other chronic illnesses. However, there are practices such as yoga and meditation that can help alleviate stress and anxiety.

How Yoga and Meditation Can Help

Yoga is a mind body practice that helps us to relax, lower the heart rate and blood pressure, control breathing and reduce stress. Yoga offers several potential health benefits which include:

* Stress relief – studies have shown that yoga helps reduce anxiety and stress and the practice enhances your overall sense of well being and mood.

* Improves fitness – yoga can help improve flexibility, strength, balance and range of motion.

* Management of chronic conditions - yoga helps to reduce high blood pressure, heart disease, and helps to alleviate pain, insomnia, anxiety and depression.

Meditation done on a regular basis can help your brain develop new pathways as the mind begins to experience itself. The structure and function of the brain changes making it work better and become healthier. Meditation in conjunction with daily exercises and a well balanced diet helps avoid anxiety, depression and other chronic conditions. Meditation is easy, effective and there is no need for any special training. Meditation reduces overall stress and minimizes post traumatic stress disorder as well as improves performance of mind and body.

Conclusion

Research has shown that if we have contact with supportive active people along with practicing yoga and meditation we can drastically reduce the risk of life threatening illnesses and anxiety symptoms brought on by sitting for extended periods. Positive support can change the brain chemistry and prevent poor mental health and anxiety.

By Sarah Biel

Sarah Biel is a popular well recognized health and lifestyle expert. Sarah is well qualified in her field and is passionate about the well being, and mental state of her clients. Sarah works at Sukhavati Ayurvedic Retreat and Spa which offers life changing treatments based on ancient healing practices.


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