Using Running to Beat Anxiety!

Fit young woman catching her breath during training


So where are all of my fellow perfectionists at? I know exactly what your life is like. You’re never fit enough, fast enough, intelligent enough, liked enough, what have you. I myself can say that I am one of those people – I’m my own worst enemy.

I started running when I was 17 years old, but only for the physical benefits. From there on out it became my addiction. If I didn’t run at least 3 miles on my run, I believed the entire workout was a waste. If I didn’t hit the gym at least 4 days a week, I felt like a bloated hot mess. If I wasn’t a certain weight, my day was ruined. I became obsessed.

So it’s no surprise that by the time I hit 22 I encountered my first overuse injury, and after not listening to my body, my second injury followed shortly after. Even with my injuries I still stayed in decent shape, and I reached a point in my life where I was happy with my body without having to obsess over a number on a scale. But then, alongside 40 million other Americans, I started dealing with anxiety. Unfortunately, I felt like I couldn’t cope with stress as well as I had before. One night after venting to my dad, he enlightened me and explained that there are just some people in life with strong personalities that need exercise more than others, just to calm themselves & fight our own internal battles. He truly believed running was always my serenity, and it was something I needed to make peace with and try again.

So then began my journey – to view running as a necessity, not just for my physical health, but also for my mental health. Running releases endorphins which play a significant role in relaxation, and can help ease an overactive mind. It also burns excess cortisol (stress horomone) and causes fewer anxiety symptoms.

Now, the main reason I was able to transform my view of running was because I was able to devote one hour of my day to thinking positively. Running alone, especially outdoors, gave me the ability to think calmly without distraction. I began to work through my stressful thoughts and I felt confident in my abilities.

I’ve now realized that there are so many women out there that obsess over their body just as I had. Obsessing over diet and weight-loss will result in a losing battle, and not in a good way. You will never reach your goal and will only end up frustrated, angry, disappointed and, quite possibly, a larger size than you ever imagined! Instead of obsessing, aim for a routine of 2-3 runs per week, working in sprint intervals as you progress.

And when it all comes down to it, you need to learn to have fun!  That’s what exercise should be about.  Sure, you get awesome results, and see tremendous improvements in your anxiety levels, but if you’re not enjoying it, I bet it will take longer to start seeing them. Give yourself over to it.  ALLOW it to become your SERENITY!