How Sedentary Behavior May Increase Anxiety – And How the Pandemic May Have Contributed

Anxiety is common. It is estimated that between 15% and 30% of Texas is currently or has once struggled with a diagnosable anxiety disorder, and many more have issues with stress and anxiousness that are difficult to manage. What causes that anxiety can vary considerably, from genetics to trauma to persistent life stress and beyond. But, as we look at ways to help decrease anxiousness and treat anxiety, it helps to look at one’s lifestyle habits to see if there are little things that can be changed in order to find some relief.

One issue that may be contributing to anxiety is sedentary behavior – the tendency to sit, immobile, throughout the day. Some of this sedentary behavior is difficult to avoid, with jobs that are increasingly behind the computer, making it difficult to find time to get up and move. But in some cases, this sedentary lifestyle is more of a choice, where we sit on our phones or watch TV rather than get up and move around.

Scientists are still not entirely sure whether sedentary behavior is a result of anxiety (ie, those with anxiety are less likely to want to be active) or if it contributes to anxiety, leading to more or worsening anxiety symptoms. But there are many reasons to believe it is the latter:

  • Sedentary behavior uses less physical and mental energy, which may then come out in other ways.
  • Sedentary behavior may cause avoidance patterns, that weaken our ability to confront and cope with stress.
  • Sedentary behavior is less healthy, and there are links between physical wellness and emotional wellness.

We can also see studies that show the result of exercise or movement on anxiety. This article from Harvard Health explains some of the ways that exercise reduces anxiety, and if exercise can reduce anxiety, then there is reason to believe that lack of exercise increases it.

How to Treat Anxiety in Dallas – Dallas Psychiatrist Dr. Surin Sehdev

Anxiety is a complex mental health condition, and those that struggle with moderate to severe anxiety typically benefit from a more holistic approach that combines anxiety treatment medications, therapy, and more. But even small lifestyle changes can be beneficial in controlling anxiety. If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety, something as simple as going for more walks may be helpful in coping with some anxiety symptoms, and while it may not eliminate the anxiety altogether, it is a beneficial tool as part of a larger anxiety treatment plan.

If you’d like to learn more about the psychiatric treatment for anxiety, contact Dallas psychiatrist Dr. Sehdev of Aware Behavioral Health, today.

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