Leg Exercises to Decrease Anxiety

Stretching can decrease anxiety.

Stretching can decrease anxiety.

If you suffer from anxiety, you don't always have to resort to medication to find relief. In fact, some relatively simple leg exercises, yoga poses and stretches can do wonders for your state of mind. The trick is to concentrate on your breathing and the sensations that you feel in your legs.

Quick Tensing and Relaxing

For quick stress release, stand, lie down or sit and rapidly and progressively tense the muscles in your feet, calves, thighs, pelvis, stomach and lower back. Maintain this state of tension for a few seconds, then release and allow the relaxation to wash through your body.

Bridge Pose

Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet planted on the ground. Keep your arms extended down by your sides. Exhale and push off the ground so that your lower back and tailbone are off the floor. Keep pushing until your thighs are nearly parallel to the ground. Use your feet, upper back and shoulders for support. Maintain this position for 30 seconds to one minute. Breathe out and slowly roll your spine back to the ground.

Legs Up the Wall

Fold a blanket and place it between 5 and 6 inches from a wall. The more flexible you are, the closer you should put it to the wall. If you're really flexible, you can try stacking two folded blankets on top of each other for more height. Sit at one end of the blanket with your shoulder against the wall: If you're right handed, sit at the right end, and if you're left handed, sit at the left. Breathe out and swing your legs up so that they are now extended against the wall. Slide back so your upper back and head are on the ground and your lower back is on the blankets. Calmly inhale and exhale. Stay in position for five to 15 minutes.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Stand upright on one leg. Keep the support leg planted on the ground and flex the foot of the other leg so that the muscles in the lower leg and foot contract. The thigh muscles should remain relaxed. Consider the different sensations in your upper and lower leg. Breathe in and out and slowly release the tense muscles. Repeat this exercise with your other leg.

 

About the Author

Debbie Lechtman is a writer living in Hartford, Conn. She has a degree in magazine journalism from Syracuse University. In the past, she has worked for major national publications, specializing in fitness and wellness. Currently, she works as a writer and copywriter and is awaiting the upcoming publication of two short stories in literary magazines.

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