Unfortunately ,for me ,the experts are right again . Exercise IS good for my mind. My mind doesn’t think that when I’m laid in bed thinking “ah it’s raining…don’t bother running today .. it’ll be horrible..stay cosy instead ”
However when (and in all honesty if sometimes) I manage to not listen to lazy sloth voice and go and run. I always feel better afterwards. I can’t think of a time I’ve ever gotten in from a run and wished I hadn’t bothered.
I don’t want to turn into run bore , but I want to just tell you about the ways running has helped my mental health.
Firstly I’ve got to tell you this isn’t going to be me telling you about how running has saved my sanity. How it’s cured all my mental health issues. How I just want to run like Forrest Gump because it makes me feel so fabulous. That wouldn’t be true . I’m writing this with an incredibly sore foot , achy thighs and a weird ache in my bum . I’m not feeling invincible or unstoppable right now .
I know , I know stop going on about it BUT I’m apparently running a marathon in 4 weeks and 2 days ….so training is ON! I’m not a natural long distance runner. Every long run I do currently is the longest run I’ve ever done. It’s hard .
Yet I’m glad to be running ,here’s how it helps me .
I am sleeping like a log
I suffer with intense nightmares occasionally .Linked to traumatic experiences that my brain likes to bother me with of a night. I went through a stage of barely sleeping which isn’t like me at all it was horrible and made me even more absent minded than usual. When I’m running hard or doing a gym workout that’s tough and I suppose any kind of exercise you do. It tires me out physically . Being physically tired , for me , aids getting to sleep and more importantly staying asleep !!
Running quietens anxiety symptoms
When I’m running I’m not panicking about my breathing feeling weird or my heart pounding … because that’s what’s meant to happen. The weird tricks my body plays on me in Sainsbury’s are normal here , actively encouraged!
The feel of my feet hitting the path , the wind or sun or rain on my face , the rhythm of my limbs these are all quite grounding for me . Paying attention to how my body feels concentrating on steps means my brain just has no space to spiral off thinking of all the horrible things I’m certain is going to happen to me . Having to push through when my lazy legs want to stop mean I have no brain space to worry about how I’ve upset everyone I’ve ever interacted with and everyone hates me !!
It’s one on one time with my head
My head and disfunctional brain can be my worst enemy a lot of the time . As I mentioned just now running means the brain can’t spiral into over thinking but it can do actual thinking. Just me and my mind no distractions I can often problem solve something that’s been bothering me out on a run or have great ideas creatively when I’m out in the open air ,alone.
The great outdoors
I must admit over the past few months I have been utilising the treadmill as well as outside because , well ,I live in Manchester it rained here for weeks on end and I was finding it hard to keep motivated . However outside a bit of a blue sky and somewhere pretty to run and it’s not just good for my head but my soul. I adore a gorgeous landscape it makes my little heart joyous . When I’m running somewhere pretty I’m smiling rather than grimacing (usually) this goes for walking for me too bit of green and I’m happy as Larry (whoever he is !)
My mental health issues become superpowers
I suffer from hypervigalence. My fight or flight instinct is triggered permanently. I live my life on high alert . A bird dared squawk the other day and I screamed in fear of danger. On a day to day basis it’s bloody exhausting and extremely inconvenient. When I’m out running though it’s quite handy to spot potential danger or obstacles ahead before they become a problem.
It makes me trust my body
Altering my breathing pattern , my body does that when I run . My legs start to feel tired but I know I can push them a bit more I have faith in them . When lazy brain starts telling me “ah you said you’d run 7 miles but you’ve done 3 …that’s enough .Stop and go home and drink tea ” I can dismiss it . Trust in my body. Rely on it ,have faith in it . This is a new phenomenon for me . My body when in the grips of anxiety lies to me all the time. Makes me feel like I’m going to faint . This is my biggest anxiety symptom. If you’ve fainted before ,you know the bit before you pass out where people’s voices sound distant and lights are all strange and everything goes hazy ? My anxious body does that to me. During a period of high anxiety several times a day . I never ever have fainted during these times but it’s enough to cause me to panic and be anxious that I will? So yeah I have trust issues with my body . It pranks me at times ,sends the side of my face numb so I panic I’m having a stroke. Makes my breathing feel like I can’t catch my breath. All its usual tricks. When I’m running though I trust in my body. It behaves itself and that makes me feel strong .
Can I just finish by saying again . I’m not saying if you are depressed it can be cured by putting on your trainers or that I am free of my mental health problems. I’m just telling about something that is helping me at the moment, and honestly when my anxiety is at its worst I could no more run than I could fly to the moon !!! I’m just discovering little by little babystep by babystep that the old three keep myself sane techniques of good sleep , good diet and exercise are key in my situation.
Right there are blue skies and maybe even a bit of sunshine going on today . Let’s go ! Have me a bath run upon my return would you ?