Running and Anxiety
I will start by saying I’m not a doctor (even though I have the handwriting like one) but I firmly believe that exercise is not just physical, it’s also mental and dare I say I believe it’s often more mental than physical. You will often hear about hitting the wall in running—the point where your whole body is basically like “Hey, peace out I’m done. Byeeeeeeee Felicia”
You will also hear that a lot of runners struggle to keep pushing forward and have to mentally stay in it because even though they might feel good, their mind is exhausted. Especially during these trying times anxiety is at an all time high for a lot of people. Myself included. Between a lack of normal routine, COVID worries and just general life it feels like anxiety is as thick as the South Florida humidity (that last sentence should be read while putting on an extreme southern bell voice while fanning yourself and drinking iced T”)
Through it all, running has helped me try to keep it all in check. It’s not fool proof but I’ve really tried adopting the same tactics I use in running into my day to day life.
Big deadline coming up? Think of it like my long run: I have a total of 8 miles, let me focus on breaking it into 2 mile sections. 8 days to get to the deadline? Break it up into 2 day sections.
Feeling like I just can’t get all the house work done and focus on one task at a time? Channel my speed workouts—-set my timer for 5 minutes, get what I can done then take a 1 minute mental break. Scroll through Instagram, just close my eyes and breathe, or just stretch out a bit. Then repeat until I’m done.
Had a set plan and then all the sudden it changes? View it as strength training—-most runners hate it but it’s necessary for growth and adaptability. It may not be ideal or what you want but in the long run it makes you stronger and more flexible.
I’m not saying it’s easy or just "thinking positive" fixes it all because I know that sometimes it's not enough and I still struggle applying it to my situations sometimes. But overall even if it helps just 5% in a situation it’s worth a try. If nothing else sometimes it’ll distract you enough just to give yourself a 5 second mental break so the anxiety spiral doesn’t start.
Even the mind tricks aside, running help keeps me level. The other day I had a 💩 of a day. The LAST thing I wanted to do was run but I felt like if I didn’t go I would just go further info my “funk”. So I laced up and just ran. I didn’t care about pace or what my run was supposed to actually be effort wise. I just RAN. I came back feeling a lot better—not 100%, but I was overall more relaxed and less on edge. It gave me the time away to listen to hard core rap music, pound the pavement and just let all the feelings out.
Running isn’t the end all be all but it can be a piece of a bigger puzzle that makes it all more manageable. Running not your thing? THAT'S OK! Maybe you like yoga, biking, or swimming. Whatever you think you’d like I urge you to just try it! Try a bunch of things until you find what helps you. Anxiety isn’t something that just magically goes away. People with anxiety fight with it Every. Single. Day. Get moving however you can and start chipping away at it. Eventually that little bit of relief will get better. Deep breathes my friends. This too shall pass and better days are ahead. ️
*The above is purely my opinion. I am not a doctor, licensed therapist or medical professional. The above is not to be taken in lieu of medical advice and should not replace the care of a licensed therapist, medicine or anything other treatments needed. Please always use medical professionals for treatment and diagnosis if needed*