Running your Mind
I started running to feel better, both physically and emotionally. I still to this day use it as my go to wellbeing fix, to regulate my mood and to keep myself in check. Running is obviously pretty important to me and I rely on it heavily for so much more than just fitness and clarity. Running gives me ongoing therapy, body confidence, stress relief, strength, self awareness, friendship, freedom and peace.
Although I like to consider myself scientific proof 😉 that running can improve and help you manage your mental wellbeing, there is actually a lot of real science out there. So much so that doctors are now prescribing exercise as part of treatment programmes for those with mild to moderate depression and anxiety.
Studies have found that running is just as effective as psychotherapy in alleviating symptoms of depression, and that exercise can be as effective as medication for reducing symptoms of depression.
Exercise releases endorphins, there’s a fancy scientific way to describe what endorphins do but in basic terms they just make our brain happy. Running in particular releases serotonin, which is a natural mood lifter. The runners high is often described as a sense of euphoria experienced during or after your run. It can result in feelings of relaxation and happiness that last long after you’ve stretched out and put on your normal people clothes.
Sleep is also often improved during periods of regular exercises, which not only helps boost energy levels but it also helps establish a more productive routine.
I’m not suggesting that running is the solution to everything or that what works for me will work for you. The one thing I know from wading through my very own personal struggle of diagnosis, medication, therapy, acceptance, and a new ‘normal’, is that it is an utterly individual experience.
But if you’re struggling, outwardly or inwardly or can relate to any of what I write about here then maybe it is worth lacing up and increasing your movement in whatever way feels right to you.
Through that movement you might just find an extra nugget of self esteem, a kindred spirit, or an ounce of space away from a crippling mind.
I can’t guarantee it will be pretty; running is hard, sweaty and painful at times, especially at first. If you can push through that pain though and accomplish something you never thought you could; whether that be running to the end of your drive, a 5k, or even a marathon. Then you start to take back a little bit of control over your wellbeing, and who knows you may just get hooked…
If you want to know more about my own struggles then please check out my Why Mind post.