I first discovered running as a means of releasing high levels of stress, and immediately got addicted to this endurance sport. Running became a mental, and emotional lifesaver. Now, every time I feel burdened, overwhelmed, stressed, or upset, I throw my Lulu Leggings and Nike Epic React Shoes on, and head to the downstairs treadmill and run for about an hour. Then if I have a little time afterwards I do some yoga to stretch all my muscles out. Following that is a long hot shower, some tea in my cozy bathrobe, and a book to keep my mind off stressful things. I usually pass out shortly after.
So why is running therapeutic?
“Runner’s High” speaks to the feel good effects runners experience during and after their run. Running affects the entire body and leads to a decrease in stress hormones, and an increase in neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are responsible for carrying signals between neurons in the body. Dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine are some of the feel-good chemicals that, when fitted neatly into a receptor site on a receiving neuron, trigger the experience of pleasure. This is why runner’s like you and I find it hard to stop once you start.
Solo running can provide some much needed alone time. It gives you time to disengage from all the noise in your daily life, forget about family issues, work stress, and relationship problems. It is precious. Running provides an almost meditative space for you to escape to and gain clarity. All your problems seem to fall away as you focus on the rhythm of your run and you pound it out on the treadmill. And as you tune in to to your breathing you begin to enter a state of flow. You feel serene, focused, and running becomes timeless. After my runs I always feel stronger, refreshed and more insightful. World come at me!
There is a significant link between goal-setting and confidence. A study at Columbia University shows that reaching ambitious goals has an impact on your happiness, and therefore your confidence. It encourages positive self-talk and inspires us to make healthier choices, which eventually crates a cycle of healthy habits and self-confidence. That feeling of success will spill into other areas of your life and will push you to step out of your comfort zone and take on newer challenges. I always feel like tackling a new project when I reach a new running goal. Girl Boss all the way.
So, those are my reasons for why running is the cheapest form of therapy. It’s literally a miracle pill that affects mind, body and soul. However, do not expect it to be the complete solution to a clinical problem.
Running has been my go-to stress reliever since I was 15. Yes, it is a healthy and very accessible mental outlet and it has been my way of dealing with my millennial life in general, but it didn’t solve all my anxious thoughts. So after 12 years, I reached out to a licensed therapist, and was surprised to realize that it was helpful. Not only did it feel great, sharing all those anxious thoughts with someone that understood and didn’t judge, but she helped me reframe my perspective on my work/life relationship.
I still love running. And I do it everyday but now I’m less dependent on it being an anxiety fix. Running can be therapeutic, but for some of us there’s no substitute for actual counseling.
Why do enjoy running? Is it like therapy for you?
Check out these books below!
Movement is medicine. Letting your mind wander as you take a long walk, a slow jog, or a brisk run can give you a powerful, uplifting feeling. Some call it a runner’s high, others attribute it to endorphins. In this interactive workbook, psychotherapist William Pullen teaches you how to channel that exhilarating energy and use it to make positive change in your life.
This radical new approach to obtaining the benefits of mindfulness originates in the body itself. Using a combination of mindfulness, focused questions, and exercise, Dynamic Running Therapy (DRT) has proven to be a simple, intuitive, effective, and therapeutic method for managing stress, trauma, anxiety, anger, depression, and other conditions.
With carefully tailored thought exercises to be implemented while on a run or walk, DRT brings the mind into perfect harmony with the body through the healing experience of mindful running.
An intimate look at writing, running, and the incredible way they intersect, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is an illuminating glimpse into the solitary passions of one of our greatest artists.
While training for the New York City Marathon, Haruki Murakami decided to keep a journal of his progress. The result is a memoir about his intertwined obsessions with running and writing, full of vivid recollections and insights, including the eureka moment when he decided to become a writer. By turns funny and sobering, playful and philosophical, here is a rich and revelatory work that elevates the human need for motion to an art form