Decrease Anxiety With The Aid Of Safe Exercise And A Little Mental Work


Hi folks,

A solid workout really helps you to feel good and more importantly it helps you to feel good about yourself.

A solid workout really helps you to feel good and more importantly it helps you to feel good about yourself.

I look around and watch the world, and wonder about many things. I was fortunate to inherit an enquiring mind from my Mom (and maybe my Dad, but I never did meet him), and that is why I so much enjoyed my research career. One of the things that I wonder about is why people worry so much (hypothesis number one – neocortex too big to handle). I know people worry, because I’ve done my share. We each have personal histories that generate these tapes in our heads, and they go around and around and around, until you cut the tape. I’m bad, I’m bad I’m bad OR I’m ugly, I’m ugly, I’m ugly, OR its not my fault, it’s not my fault, it’s not my fault, OR I hate them, I hate them, I hate them. SMDW – same music, different words. Cut the tape, and BOOM, worry fades towards an asymptote. In a blog post a long time ago, I described my best example of a personal life fix achieved purely through a thought process known as creative visualization. It works if you do the work and I find that exercise helps too.

But the endless worry, you hear it everywhere, and it doesn’t seem to be a function of the level of risk in people’s everyday lives, but it is clearly stoked by the media (which I avoid at all costs – no tanks in the streets means it is a good day, generally). I finally became exasperated with my personal tendency to worry in my late 50s, so I stopped it with some psychological help, and suddenly my life became better, sunnier, even more vibrant.

Nothing like an early morning run.

There's nothing like an early morning run on wooded trails.

There are a many ways avoid wasting your life on worry or anxiety, but they all involve work of some kind. We each have to tackle our life journey in our own way, but I recommend that you consider the following solutions:

  1. Turn off the tapes running in your head through meditation.
  2. Go for a run, with friends or on your own, preferably along a wooded trail in the early morning sunshine, and listen!
  3. Turn off the tapes running in your head through talk therapy and mental discipline (work), as described by M. Scott Peck, in ‘The Road Less Traveled,’ which means accepting your problems as your responsibility.
  4. If you make a mistake take responsibility, try to fix it, but DON’T beat yourself up about it.
  5. Have an early morning swim (at least 3000 yards, steady), even if you hate early mornings anything, and don’t forget to put on lotion to prevent the itching, and then treat yourself to the breakfast of your dreams.
  6. Read a good self help book, my personal favorite being, ‘Self Help For The Bleak,’ because it made me laugh.
  7. Calming picture associated with The Serenity Prayer

    Calming picture associated with The Serenity Prayer

    If you find that religion helps, which I don’t but that is a personal choice, say The Serenity Prayer each day, as it is just good old common sense to not waste your brain power worrying about things that you cannot change or fix.

  8. Change your job if it is feeding your tapes, but don’t expect the external world to fix your internal problems.
  9. Help someone else with their exercise program or their life, it gets you out of yourself, which then puts things in perspective – but don’t use this approach to underestimate the damage being done to you on a daily basis by your ‘uncut tapes.’
  10. Make a picnic, a small one, get on your bike, and ride off into the countryside for 50 miles or so, find a quiet spot, enjoy your food, then ride back, nice and steady all the way. Then jump in a hot bath, have a great dinner, and read a book before falling asleep.
  11. Don’t let other people live rent free in your head.
  12. Do a hard brick, say 50-100 mile bike ride, followed by a 5-10 mile run (or the equivalent challenge for you) – now that works every time, but you had better be well conditioned for it before you try. And don’t tell me you’re too old, that’s BS.
  13. Have a massage or go dancing.
  14. If none of that helps, go tell your therapist about it, but don’t take drugs to fix the problem, they generally don’t work as far as I can tell, unless there is some organic problem.
  15. Meditate, meditate, meditate, using the technique described in ‘The Power Of Now,’ it actually works – watch the chatter and it goes silent! Remarkable.
  16. Don’t give up and don’t give in, and trust me, there is life beyond worry, which never fixes anything.

Life’s too interesting to waste on worry!

-k @FitOldDog

Today’s workouts:

Workout PLAN Coach: Chris Hauth
Duration: 01:30:00
5-7′ warm up jog
40′ at Z2 running HR – steady
then: 6×1′ VERY fast, upper Z3, low Z4 running with Z2 30 recovery.
10′ at Z2 running HR – steady
15′ at Z3 running HR – good form
10′ warm down jogZ2 30 recovery = see your HR recover down to Z2 range and remain there for 30 seconds before you go into the next effort.


  1. Awesome entry, Kevin. I say 11 all the time… and how true it is.

  2. 5. What if you can’t swim?

  3. 10. What if you haven’t got a bike?

    • Learn to swim, buy a bike, or think of something equivalent. Climb a mountain, dig a ditch, whatever works for you. But do something with your mind and body -kevin

  4. What about yoga? And dancing?

  5. Your advice is the opposite to what I do in order to write poetry ‘inspired’ by traumatic experiences.

    In order to try to put into verse the emotions of trauma I have gone the other way. I sought to amplify them. In your parlance, “to beat myself up” over them repeatedly and constantly. At the end of this process out comes a poem.

    After this then the course is reversed and meditation is absolutely needed to turn the volume back down again. This however is more difficult but not impossible. Good composition comes from emotion, elation or pain, and the rational scientific approach is of no use here at all.

    There is however risk! I am familiar with the Poems of John Clare’s Madness. Having read Clare’s own words about how he composed his quite beautiful works I think I see just how he went mad. He immersed himself too deeply in emotion to the point where there was no way back. He got lost. He went mad.

    The WWI poets who recorded the horrors of the trenches seemed to have one thing in common. Having written there verses they became recklessly “heroic”. Wilfred Owen Died in an impossible assault and Sassoon got shot in the head and wounded in no mans land. He survived. Both became recklessly brave.

    So unless you want to record horrible events, in verse, your approach is preferable to mine.

    It is not so dangerous.

  6. Great blog. Would you mind if I print it out to give to patients?

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.