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When I conjure an image of a couch potato in my head, I see someone lying around on their couch relaxing with the TV remote in their hand. The Cambridge Dictionary actually defines couch potato a a person who watches a lot of television and does not have an active life. So how is it possible that this can lead to higher anxiety?
How Long Does it Take?
The time frames can vary depending on the individual and the frequency of the “couch potato” time. Multiple studies have shown there is indeed a correlation between the amount of time sitting in one place to an increase in anxiety.
Lengthy sitting sessions can be from hours working at your computer to binge watching shows to playing video games. They all are linked to social detachment and a decreased metabolism.
No Big Deal, Right?
In previous posts I have talked about some of the risk factors of anxiety, especially long term. It has been linked to many chronic illnesses like depression, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer!
I have also discussed how anxiety can have many different triggers in people. These can include any medical condition or impaired body function due to a sedentary lifestyle.
There Has to Be More
Recent studies out of Deakin University in Australia confirmed that physically active people are more confident and less likely to develop mental disorders. And all this time I thought running was something only crazy people did… who knew?
Alcohol and drug use can play a big part. Family history can impact susceptibility to anxiety and mental illness as well.
So beyond becoming a gym rat, what do we do? Thankfully, there are a lot of options. Therapy, for one. Medications can assist with depression and anxiety, both prescription and naturopathic.
Perhaps the easiest way to avoid these hassles is to be active and eat healthy. Staying active physically is a great distraction from worrisome or depressing thoughts. This helps stave off panic attacks and keep anxiety from overwhelming us.
Eating healthy takes us down a similar path. Good nutritional intake is essential for brain health, whereas our current typical Western diet has us on a collision course with diabetes. Try some new healthy recipes!
Making sure you get enough sleep is also vital. Anxiety and depression frequently go hand in hand with insomnia.
Coupled closely with sleep is relaxation. So many people go at full speed most of the day and expect to just get into bed and fall asleep. Practice some relaxation methods before trying to go to bed in order to gain deeper, more restful sleep. I generally suggest some form of meditation for this as it often will incorporate deep breathing.
Lastly, avoid caffeine and nicotine. They are both chemicals that have a tendency to worsen anxiety effects in many people.
A healthy lifestyle is paramount for trying to control anxiety. It’s not easy but it can be worth it. I won’t be giving up my morning coffee, but enjoy it in moderation.
By avoiding situations that turn you into a couch potato you improve your chances of avoiding some of the stress and anxiety in your life. And on that note, I’m going to the gym!
Comments and feedback are always welcome!