Running and anxiety – what’s the connection? Well, I can say from personal experience that running has been one of the no. 1 things that has helped ease my anxiety naturally. In fact, it completely changed my life and I went from a complete non-runner (completely unfit, I did zero exercise for many years) to a marathon runner in just over a year.
I’m now looking at running ultra marathons. So, it’s safe to say, running made a big impact on my life.
The anxiety-reducing effects, as well as the fantastic effect it can have to lift your mood, are just a couple of the things that made me learn to love running and made me want to carry on and push myself to reach new goals.
While you may not want to be running a marathon any time soon, taking up running even a couple of times a week can have a great impact on your anxiety levels and you may well find yourself catching the “running bug”.
The reason so many people love running is that it really can make you feel amazing – it releases natural endorphins that give you a great sense of well-being. This seems to have a knock on effect too and continue to make you feel better long after your run…
Running in order to reduce anxiety is something many people won’t consider as a treatment. The benefit that physical exercise can have on mental health is nothing new, but it seems as though it’s something people often ignore. Perhaps many people don’t realise what a powerful impact it can have on their mental health – I challenge you to give it a go, you won’t regret it!
Physical exercise can benefit overall mental health (in my opinion it can be more effective than any pill or therapy) but running in particular can have a significant impact on reducing anxiety and depression.
Better yet, it’s so easy to get started running, all you need is a pair of running shoes.
Here are 5 reasons why you should start running today
1. Running produces lots of feel good endorphins and can give you an overall feeling of calmness. If you run in the morning, this feeling doesn’t just disappear but will improve your overall ability to cope with stress throughout the day and manage your anxiety. Have you ever heard of the “runners high?” – it’s a real thing. -You can experience a great sense of euphoria and well-being. While the actual euphoria is relatively short lived, the antidepressant quality is long-term, as well as improvements generally in mood and self-esteem.
2. Having a space of time just for you, can give you the mental space to go over some of the things causing anxious feelings. We all need space right? But finding that time JUST for us, outside of friends and family and the general routine of every day life is really difficult. By running, you are making that space and time just for you and you can think things through – or just not think at all and enjoy the peace!
3. If you have a particular goal to work towards, whether it be a 5k or a marathon, dedicating towards a plan can give you a focus and can divert your thoughts away from anxiety producing thoughts. Having focused goals won’t only increase your confidence, it takes the focus away from some of these overwhelming thoughts and can help them fade into the background.
4. Having running there to fall back on is something just for you, it can act as a mental crutch – for example, you know that feeling of anxiety getting to surface or you’re having a particularly difficult time, just simply going for a run can drastically change how you feel and how you perceive situations. I can be in a truly terrible mood and it feels as though everything that day is going wrong – but by going for a run, my perception is changed. I return from a run feeling positive and gaining a sense of perspective – my mood dramatically alters for the better.
5. The achievement you can feel by pushing yourself to reach new running goals, whether times or distances, really boosts confidence and being more confident within yourself in turn enables you to feel more confident managing all aspects of your life and thereby reducing overall anxiety. Many newbie runners have gone from doing zero exercise to running becoming a priority in their life and achieving goals they never believed was possible. With running, you can actually progress very quickly with a good program and seeing how fast you can improve is a great confidence boost, match that to how great it makes you feel and you have a winning combo.
Those are my top 5 reasons why running can help combat anxiety. On a personal level, I find running meditative. When I go out at first, there may be lots of different thoughts that come into my mind, but gradually they fall away and most of the time I think of very little.
The lack of mental chatter that can be common when you have anxiety can be incredibly calming.
There is something calming and meditative about just focusing on breathing in and out, about getting into a steady rhythm of running where you’re barely thinking about it and you feel like it’s an automatic movement, that your body almost seems to be working independent to your mind, on autopilot. You feel free.
It can take a while of regular running to get to this stage, where running seems to be this natural automatic movement. But once that happens, it is easier to reach this state of calmness, where running can put you in a meditative state and entering this state is incredibly soothing.
If you are a runner, have you experienced this state of calm? Have you experienced the famous “runners high”? If you have, let us know about it in the comment section below.
As someone who was never a morning person, but has discovered how much running first thing in the morning can transform your day, I can vouch for the truth in the video below. So, if you don’t already feel motivated enough to go for a run, here are some more reasons why going out for a run in the morning can change your life.
This article was written by Sebastian S. Ruiz, a writer working for Essay4Students company. Sebastian lives in USA. He is interested in innovation in digital sphere and marketing. During his free time, he likes to swim, run and travel.