If you’re feeling stressed out over your career, personal life or other circumstances, running is an excellent way to release your frustrations in a healthy way.
Running To Overcome A Stressful Career
At the start of 2014 I was in quite a mess mentally and physically. I wasn’t enjoying the job I was working at the time and the working hours left me with little time to run.
In that first week of 2014,I decided that enough was enough and went on a career break.
During this time I focused on trying to feel better.
And guess what helped?
That’s right, running!
You see, whenever I’m constrained to an office environment my mental health tends to suffer, especially if I don’t get frequent exercise.
The tension builds inside and the pressure snowballs.
It seems like there’s no escape, but it doesn’t have to be that way!
Ever since I came out of work, I’ve been faring much better and have dedicated my hours to keeping fit, playing guitar and reading.
How To Cope When Running Makes You Even More Anxious
When I first started running it didn’t help cure my anxiety. Arguably it made it much worse for a short period of time.
Well I was training for a marathon at the time and I was terrified of stopping on each and every run. I got the idea that surrendering once whilst out jogging would lead to my marathon schedule collapsing and my plans being left in ruins.
For this reason I was extraordinarily tense whilst out on the run. I kept playing mind games with myself where I was almost goading myself to stop just so that I could prove to myself that I was a failure.
After a while I gaining more experience in the great outdoors and no longer suffered so much from this problem.
The only time I become anxious these days is if I encounter an angry dog out on the run. Then the adrenaline starts pumping and I want to bark in the face of the fluffy fucker.
Running To Boost Your Mental Health And Combat Anxiety
In the past few years, I’ve suffered from panic attacks. I still don’t understand the cause of these episodes but I’m guessing it has something to do with repressed anger and general dissatisfaction with my life at any particular point in time.
I can still sense the start of panic attacks these days. Whenever they strike, instead of surrendering to them, I let the nervous energy behind them propel me through the first mile of a run.
By the time I’m on my 2nd mile, the inner tension moves from my mind to my legs.
By the end of the run, I can see everything in context again.
You see, when you’re experiencing a panic attack, your focus narrows onto all of you negative character traits.
In the past when I’d drink and over eat to ‘overcome’ my problems.
Of course drinking and overeating only made my anxiety worse in the long run. It wasn’t until I became a runner that I found a real solution.
Running wipes out stress. It clears a space in my mind where real answers to my problems can surface.
Running & The Social Anxiety That Stems From Low Self Esteem & Being Overweight.
Running has increased my confidence and self belief in a dramatic way.
I’m not bounding about high-5ing everyone like in an awful weight-loss documentary.
But now that I’ve got my weight under control, I’m no longer self conscious when I’m outside.
When I started running I was always on edge as I suspected everyone was gonna laugh at me. As time went on, I stopped caring about anyone else. I ran for my own reasons and that’s all that mattered.
That attitude has carried through to all parts of my social life and I’ve never felt this good.
I’d be lying if I said running has completed obliterated all of my problems, but I am much better than I was previously.
Running Has Strengthened My Mental Resolve
The best benefit of running is that it has made me a stronger person mentally.
You gain so much strength over time from continuing through tough runs. When you survive a difficult workout when you were certain you were gonna quit 2 miles back, it shows that you’re made of stronger stuff than you thought possible.
This makes surviving anxiety attacks that much easier. I no longer feel like I’m living in their shadow. I’ve learnt that with perseverance all negative emotion will dissipate if I focus for long enough.
Coping With Negative Anxious Thoughts On The Run
Running doesn’t cure anxiety altogether.
On the run sometimes I have negative thoughts that can sometimes spiral out of control if I leave them to fester.
It typically begins with negative self chatter. Thoughts like the ones listed below enter my mind.
- You’re fat.
- You’re not a very good person.
- You are bad at running.
- You will never get any better.
- You are hopeless.
Ultimately though, those thoughts aren’t my own. My negative thoughts are the thoughts of other people who have maybe tried to offend me over the years.
The only valid option is to block them out altogether. How do you do that? Well you just keep on running and know that you’re getting better by continuing forward.
Even if any of the above thoughts are true, you can work on yourself and become a better person. You don’t have to be that person that you were yesterday. You can make a break for a better future and it starts now.