Running Away From All Your Troubles, It's A Good Thing: Decreasing Stress
Feeling the ground rhythmically pounding beneath my feet; that is what keeps me going. Often times people ask me, what do I do when I am running; am I listening to my music, watching the television, or even doing some heavy thinking? No, all I do is focus on that pounding, the sound and the feel of my feet hitting the ground. It is quite therapeutic for me. When I run, I do have my music on, but I can’t tell you what I was listening to at the end of my run. This, however, does not mean that music doesn’t matter. I need music with a heavy fast beat, in order to keep me moving forward at a strong and steady pace; but I am not listening to the words or singing along in my head.
To be honest, most of the time I am struggling to breathe, so I focus on my breaths; three in and two out, but even those are times to the rhythm of my feet hitting the ground. On days where I don’t get to run and experience this therapy, I am moody and irritable. No, really, it’s true. I know that it sounds silly that running, or a lack there of, could have such a drastic change on my attitude, but it does.
There have been studies proving that exercise can help fight depression, anxiety and stress. I am a walking (or running) testament to this. Physiologically exercise releases chemicals in the brain that helps to ease stress, depression and anxiety. When you exercise endorphins are released, thus helping you feel better. Also, exercise reduces immune system chemicals that often times make depression worse. Exercise also increases your body temperature, which is said to have calming effects, to help you feel less stressed and less anxious.
In addition to these proven physiological effects, exercise also helps people feel better, because when they work out they just feel better about themselves. They can gain self confidence, takes their minds off of whatever was bothering them, helps them get up and moving.
Before I started running, I was taking several prescriptions to help me battle my depression and anxiety. However, since I started running last year, I have not only stopped needing those medications, I have also been able to stop my high blood pressure medication, and as long as I exercise regularly my blood pressure stays well within normal, which is also a testament to the fact that my stress level is lower when I work out.
I’ve always loved running, although as an adult I find it more difficult to stay motivated; especially after a long day at work. I just have to remind myself that I will feel better once I get there and start running, and I always do.
So, in closing, find your passion for exercise, whether it’s running (like me), jumping on a bike, joining a group exercise class, or just going for regular walks, and get out there and move!