You know that feeling like you are super amped up and need to do everything incredibly fast, then you keep looking for other things to do? When I feel this way, I call it “running on high”. It feels like I’m in high gear and my engine is revved up. When this happens, you feel like you can’t sit still or relax. Maybe you can’t sleep because your mind or body is still going a million miles per hour. You may feel like you HAVE to start a new task or project because you just need to be DOING something. Maybe you feel like you’re talking at warp speed and can’t seem to slow it down. Many people find that as their stress increases, so does this excess energy and the feeling like you need to do more. This excess energy, nervous energy anxiety, may occur alone or along with other anxiety sensations like rapid shallow breathing, muscular tension, and rapid heartbeat. It can come in waves and can vary in intensity. You may notice it flare up in your children, too, and see them launch into practically (or literally) running around in circles. You may even notice an accompanying craving for sugar or sweets.
In these moments when excess energy is high, the body’s stress response is activated. This response is often called the fight or flight response and is an activation of the part of the autonomic nervous system called the sympathetic nervous system. It stimulates the body, bringing the entire toolbox of resources into action. It gives you the fuel and energy to either fight or flee. This is beneficial when you are in real danger but can cause problems when it’s activated too often, and the body doesn’t have the time it requires to recover. This can result in the body getting stuck in a state of stress response readiness. When you’re running on high, this is an indication that you have become overly stressed and stimulated. Staying in this mode for long periods of time can lead to burn out and physical ailments, not to mention just straight up fatigue and exhaustion. We tend to overlook that and think we can just sleep our way out of the exhaustion. However, when it builds up over time, just a night’s sleep will not undo the damage to your system. Reducing your body’s stress and giving it time to calm down will help with this excess anxious energy and keep you from reaching a state of burn out. There are many ways to do this including:
Deep relaxation in the form of meditation or yoga nidra
Going for a walk outside
Listening to music
Unplugging from electronics
Spend time connecting with someone you can talk with
Reducing caffeine intake
According to Michael Otto, PhD and Jasper Smits, PhD, well-known authorities on cognitive behavioral therapy, regular exercise can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. They even found that one vigorous exercise session can help alleviate symptoms for hours, and a regular schedule may significantly reduce them over time. They recommend that the trick to maintaining and exercise program is all about arranging your life to make it easier for you do regularly. If you haven’t exercised in a while, it is always hard first before it gets easier. Your body needs to get used to the breathing and exertion. Within a few weeks it does get easier, but in the beginning it can feel grueling.
How to get moving
Stretch it out – with some yoga! Yoga in all forms is a very healthy form of exercise.
Walk more. Walk everywhere you can. Walk for fun and walk to actually get you places. Park farther away than you usually do and get some walking in.
Jog or run.
Join a gym.
Take a class online.
Grab a buddy. Exercise can be easier and more fun with someone else, with the added benefit of an accountability partner.
Take private classes. A private coach can help tailor your activity to your needs and desires.
Ways to help kids burn off energy
Have them exercise with you.
Sign them up for a class – like a yoga class!
Have them join you in a nature walk.
Hold a dance party!
Create a scavenger hunt.
Chores – make it fun with come music and cooperation.
Physical games – some classics like hide and seek, duck-duck-goose, Red light-Green light, and relay races can get them moving and giggling.
Balloon volleyball. Or balloon relay races, or just trying to keep a balloon from hitting the ground can be very active way to burn off some energy in a fun and quick way.
I’ve found that sometimes coming straight into a relaxation breathing practice doesn’t feel feasible. It’s difficult to slow down, the energy is overwhelming, my heart rate is up and my whole body is buzzing. I’ve seen this with kids, too. This is when some physical activity BEFORE the breathing is really helpful. In fact, it is thought that this is how and why the physical practice of yoga was developed in the first place. Thousands of years ago, the physical aspects of yoga were developed to help prepare the body and the nervous system for stillness, creating the necessary physical strength and stamina needed for the mind to remain calm. I’ve found myself that movement allows me to then sit still and breathe and allow my body and mind to rest and relax.
Looking for some anxious energy burning for yourself? Sign up for my live online yoga classes where we get to stretching, building strength and flexibility, and also activate relaxation and breath work to bring lots of anxiety lowering activities into one. I’m also teaching cardio Pilates fusion classes, yoga sculpt, and strength training yoga (yoga with hand weights) locally in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Join me there or sign up for a private coaching time to incorporate these methods into your day. I have private yoga coaching available to personalize your movement practice and help provide you with the support to stick with it. Do your kids need to burn off some energy? Sign up the kiddos for one of my fun and engaging yoga classes.
Whatever your movement preference, get moving so you can decrease tension, regulate your mood, sleep better, and feel better.