I only started running a couple of weeks ago. My best friend Emily is a marathon runner (pictured in the featured picture) and has always loved running and up until a few weeks ago, I listened to her running stories like she was CRAZY!
My roommate and I are working on being healthy and not making runs to Walmart for ice cream and salty snacks. It doesn’t always work, but you have to have cheat days every now and then!
One thing that I started though was running every day. If I don’t run, I don’t feel as good. It has already become my new normal. One night after coming home from a long day at work, I was looking forward to a big glass of wine and a movie. When I got home though, I decided that I should go on a run before my big glass of wine. After the run, I no longer felt like wine. My anxiety and stress had melted away with the run and I was able to make myself a healthy dinner and drink a la croix instead of wine.
When I run, I usually look at the beauty around me. I look at the sun dipping below the peaks of the mountains, I smell the flowers (I know… cliché), I listen to the sound of the dirt and rocks crunching below my feet and I get completely out of my head. It releases a lot of anxiety and reminds me that there is so much beauty in the world around me.
Every now and then, I shut my eyes when I run. Maybe that is stupid because you know… trip and fall, but I am able to focus on taking a deep breath and truly “feeling” the run. Feeling the air fill my lungs, and the bit of extra effort I have to put in to get that deep belly breath that keeps me moving forward.
I think that is something that truly helps. It keeps me moving forward. I feel like I’m not standing still. I’m not putting things on hold because of my anxiety. I am not allowing it to take over my life, but I am instead using it for something positive and for something that will help my health and overall well-being.
Even when other aspects of my life seem to be at a complete stand still, or are spinning endlessly and I feel as though I can’t control it, running is something I can control. It is something I can use to make sense of things and keep myself from staying at a stand still. In the middle of a day, if it is super stressful, I honestly think about the great run I am going to have when I get home and it helps me at least enough to make it to the end of the day.
It also reminds me to breathe. Yes, you have to breathe all of the time, but it is instinct. When you are running, you have to really think about your breath. You have to remind yourself to take deep breaths instead of shallow “resting” breaths and that is something that will also help with anxiety. If you are having an anxiety or panic attack, you have worked on training yourself to focus on your breathing. To focus on breathing all of the way into your stomach instead of taking a shallow breath that ends at the bottom of your throat.
That feeling that you sometimes get on a run, where you have not focused on your breathing and you can really feel it in your chest, is the same feeling you get when you are having an anxiety attack. The feeling of someone sitting on your chest. The good news is, eventually, that deep breathing becomes a habit and whether you are running or working through some major anxiety, you are able to focus on moving forward, on taking a deep deep breath and on getting past the feeling in your chest.
Running isn’t for everyone. I get that. Up until about two weeks ago, it wasn’t for me. I complained that it hurt my back, my ankles, and my chest, but I decided that the feeling of making it through was worth trying again. Low and behold, I focused on my form and my breathing and BAM, my ankles and back get “sore” but aren’t in pain. I can feel the run in the blisters on my feet, but I can also feel it deep in my heart.
(Trust me… There are many more posts like this to come!)