Run Your Emotions
People often underestimate the link between physical fitness and mental health. Oftentimes, exercise is the last thing you want to do when you’re in a deep depression, spiraling with anxiety, or gripped with fear. But what if the LAST thing you want to do could be the BEST thing for you to do? And what is it about exercise that makes such a difference?
Without rehashing the research on brain chemistry and how endorphins work, let’s simply focus on mindfulness. Sometimes what makes our emotions so debilitating is our fear that we’re not strong enough to really FEEL them, and come out safely on the other side. This is the environment we strive for in counseling, a safe space to feel our feelings with reassurance that Everything Will Be OK. Let’s consider some options outside the counseling session to try to re-create this same environment.
I’ve been running consistently for four years this month, and in that time I’ve noticed a thing or two about it. Running for me has become a form of celebration of my mind and body strength, a place of coping during scary and difficult seasons, and a space for healthy grief during some of the hardest times in my life. On the course of one run, whether it’s three miles or thirteen, my spirit will filtrate through such a variety of emotions that I feel like a cartoon character in the Emoji Movie! I may set out feeling good, allowing my mind to wander, when a mile in I can become as mad as can be! In continuing my run, I am forced to work through these feelings and process until I am in a health mind space again. In doing this repeatedly over the course of time, I slowly recognize that I am safe to feel my emotions…and strong enough to come out the other side!
I am obviously an advocate for the Run, simply because of what it’s done for me. But the same can be said for walking, biking, shooting hoops, surfing…. The list is endless. Share your story of how physical fitness has transformed your mental health, and encourage others that they, too, and Run their Emotions!