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Running to Combat Depression

These last few months have been very…strange. With everything going on in our world right now, I’ve found myself in a constant state of reflection and self observation. 

Searching for new ways to cope with sudden life altering events, I was forced to redirect my energy inwards and explore new endeavours in an attempt to combat my depression. 

Much like everything else, the gym had closed its doors and I was at a loss in terms of how to manage my bipolar without it. Home workouts were helpful but certainly didn’t compare and I was getting increasingly restless!

So I did what any desperate adrenaline junkie would do. I decided to pick up running. 

Pre COVID-19, the only time you could catch me running is if someone were chasing me and my life literally depended on it. It was my least favorite way to exercise and I would rather lay around and do nothing than experience agonizing shin splints and joint pain! It just wasn’t for me. 

Or so I thought. 

I needed an outlet. Something to get me out of my head and into my body before the depression set in and I lost myself entirely. What did I have to lose? 

I threw on my runners, put on my favourite playlist, and away I went. 

An hour and a half later, I returned home absolutely wrecked. My heart felt like it was about to pound right out of my chest, my legs were numb, and my face was so hot I thought I might actually pass out.

Here’s the best part. Despite all of these things, I felt exhilarated! 

My body and mind had created such an intense synergy that any previous feelings of worry and self doubt had completely disappeared. 

I felt alive. I felt in control. I felt whole. 

3 months later and you bet your a$$ I’m still hitting the pavement. It’s become such an important part of my weekly routine and I can’t imagine my life without it. 

What’s even crazier is that my depression never did make an appearance. By stepping outside of my comfort zone and remaining open to something new (something I’ve loathed since the beginning of time) I was able to take control of my situation and tend to my mental health in a positive way. 

So here’s what I’ve learned about my new found coping mechanism and why it’s been such an effective method for combatting depression. 

Get Out of Your Head + Into Your Body 

Depression and anxiety go hand in hand. Anxious thought patterns quickly become so overwhelming that we feel broken down, defeated, and lost. 

Our mind is racing, our nervous system is on overload, and our body just can’t keep up. 

It’s exhausting. 

As I’m sure you can imagine, this reaction is heightened when we actually have something to worry about. Like losing our job during the middle of a global pandemic…

Movement temporarily removes us from this mental prison and allows us to focus on our breathing and sensations in the body. It provides our mind with a much needed break. 

This form of physical exertion provides mental clarity and allows us to better manage our stress and make choices that aid in treating/preventing our symptoms before they get any worse.   

Endorphins = Stress Reliever 

I remember the nasty side effects of the antidepressants I used to take. They made me feel foggy and removed from my environment. I didn’t feel depressed because I didn’t feel anything at all. 

Nothing has helped me combat a bout of depression quite like endorphins!

Our body releases endorphins when we exercise. Endorphins help relieve stress and increase serotonin levels (the happy chemical in your brain that controls your mood).  

“Runner’s high” is a very real thing! It is a direct result of our bodies endorphin production that elevates our mood and leaves us feeling extremely euphoric. It’s like a drug without the crappy side effects.

The best part? It’s so readily available! All I have to do is throw on my runners and head outside and I’m instantly hit with a rush of endorphins that make even the toughest days more bearable.  

Fresh Air 

Did you know breathing in oxygen also increases your serotonin levels? 

This is why getting outside for something as simple as a leisurely walk has been proven to increase your emotional wellbeing and lift your spirits! 

Fresh air is a total game changer and the exact reason I took to running outdoors rather than on a treadmill at the gym. Both are excellent options, and at the end of the day it really just comes down to personal preference. 

Bonus points if it’s sunny outside and you can soak up a little extra vitamin D! 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Movement is one of the fastest and most effective ways to combat your depression.

Endorphins help relieve stress and shift negative thought patterns which prevents low moods from becoming all consuming. And fresh air increases your body’s serotonin production leaving you feeling happier and energized. 

Well what are you waiting for? Dig out your runners, throw on some grimey hip-hop, and show up for yourself. 

Damsel in distress is not a cute look. This doesn’t need to be your reality. 

xoxo

Beautiful Train Wreck

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