Today is World Mental Health Day so we’re joining the fight for mental health by raising awareness of how running and physical exercise can help.
Running has an enormous potential to enhance our well-being and regular participation in physical activity can assist in increasing our self-esteem and reducing stress. According to mentalhealth.org.uk physical activity can help improve the quality of life, of those who experience mental health challenges.
It’s all in the science!
Running releases chemical endorphins and serotonin in your body that lift your mood which can help relieve anxiety and depression. Many runners are familiar with the ‘runners-high,’ an emotional boost which results from running and giving you that extra boost and stress relief you may need. No matter what distance or intensity, running can improve psychological well-being in most runners with even one single bout of running seen to improve your mood.
Running allows you to be present and in the moment.
This can be a solo run or running with buddies, however, each run can help you feel connected with nature, yourself, and those around you. Running can provide a sense of moving meditation. As the Autumn season arrives, you can delve into the season with your running, listening to the crunching leaves as you take your steps, and focus on the beauty of the season around you as you take in your surrounding environment.
Whether you need a long, quiet run to take some time to switch off and be with your own thoughts to sort through your challenges, or a short, burst to get any tension out, running can allow you to feel accomplished and empowered. This type of exercise can provide relief and helps improve many different aspects of your daily life including improved sleep. Although a solo run is a terrific way to switch off, running in a community is a fantastic way to meet friends and tackle to challenge of loneliness and social anxiety.
Make running or exercise a priority!
Sometimes it’s easy to ignore your tasks and push them aside, with you left feeling exhausted and adding to the stress of getting these things done. However, try not to put your run off, as it can help you feel more motivated and increase your productivity. Exercise promotes a positive mindset and allows you to start and end your day in a good mental place, it enables you to tackle those tasks head-on and feel good when you have completed them.
Getting the balance right.
It is important to be practical and sensible when beginning your running journey. If running is something you are only now starting out doing, there’s no need to feel you have to go out and run a half marathon. Take your time starting out and find out what your body is comfortable with and what suits your lifestyle. Do not feel guilty if you don’t feel up to it one day, it’s all about finding a balance, maintaining a positive mindset, and listening to your body so don’t let this cause a problem.
Keep it fun!
Remember, this journey is supposed to be fun and one you want to do instead of feeling you have to! The benefits of running most certainly outweigh the drawbacks, and you’ll soon discover the positives of it and wonder why you didn’t start sooner! But this isn’t the only form of exercise you can do to help your mental health. Just have the courage to take that first step, and if you feel confident enough, join a running club or online community to share your experiences and you may find that running is your favourite thing to do!