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When people with mood and anxiety disorders see the world in a negative or threatening way, it increases their negative and anxious feelings—strengthening the disorder.
Scientists are now closer to understanding how relaxation activities and exercise helps to break this cycle. Not only do these activities calm our muscles and nerves, they mellow our perception of the world. People and things appear less negative or threatening.
Since the mind and body seamlessly work together it is not surprising that physical activity affects the way we view things. This gives us some added incentive to exercise and use our relaxation tools consistently.
In one study, individuals who either walked or jogged on a treadmill for ten minutes saw their environment as being less threatening than before they exercised. The same reduction in threat perception occurred after participants performed progressive muscle relaxation.
“This is a big development because it helps to explain why exercising and relaxation techniques have been successful in treating mood and anxiety disorders in the past,” said researcher Adam Heenan, Ph.D.
The researchers consider this significant since anxious individuals tend to focus on the more threatening aspects of their environment. If people are attentive to anxiety producing things they raise their anxiety and then become even more wary of their environment, perpetuating the problem.
The study implies is that regular relaxation activities and exercise make the world appear less dark or threatening, so our negativity and fears are less aroused. Feeling less distress causes and strengthens a more benign view of the world.
To maintain good mental health we must get out of our own way. Part of getting out of our own way is perceiving each moment as it is and not anticipating the worst. Any activity or tool that helps us do this is worth our time and energy.
“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
Source: Science Daily
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