Ever had one of those days where you just can’t focus? Maybe you have too much to do but don’t know where to start and can’t for the life of you remember what you were supposed to tell that person? Then you decide to go out for a run to ‘blow off some steam’ and it just feels a little easier and clearer afterwards. That is science. Running has been scientifically proven to reverse the damaging effects of stress on the brain. Basically running can help your mental health.
It doesn’t matter if you’re training for Europe’s Toughest Mudder. Just starting out on one of our training guides, or somewhere in between. Running can be used as a therapy to help improve your mood and decrease stress. Furthermore, runners will tell you post-run that they feel happy, free, calm, and more peaceful. Science backs this up to. Here’s why running is so good for your mind.
Three Mental Health Benefits of Running
Make Your Feet Happy
We’ve all heard of the magical ‘runners high’. The moment you get to the end of your run and feel like you could conquer the world. That is brought on as a result of an increase in levels of endorphins being released in the brain. Known as the feel good hormone. Endorphins are released steadily at low levels throughout the day, but running causes them to be released in much higher levels. Getting those feet moving and pounding that pavement really can make you feel happier and better overall.
And while running isn’t the only activity that releases endorphins, it is a good one to have in the mix. Other activities that release endorphins includes all physical exercise, laughing, meditating, eating chocolate. Or doing any activity that makes you smile.
For Alone Time
If things are stressful at work, you have the daily battle of homeschooling, or you are about to lose it because your roommates are driving you mad, maybe it’s time to take a break. Running alone is a great way to get out and have some well deserved time to yourself.
If you feel comfortable, stick in earphones and listen to that Spotify playlist or podcast you haven’t got round to starting and just zone out for a little while. Let your feet carry you and see where you end up. Sometimes 5 minutes is far enough before you want to turn round, other days you might go the furthest you’ve ever gone. Having realistic goals is a good way to push yourself, but sometimes it’s also beneficial to not put any extra stress on yourself and just be happy to have gotten out for a little while.
To Keep On Running
We all know that running has physical health benefits and improves general fitness, but for many people it isn’t just about putting one foot in front of the other. Running can be a form of meditation in its own right, and is ideal if you find the thought of sitting still in silence for 30 minutes a day worse than the thought of going through Electroshock Therapy more than once in a row. It’s a peaceful, repetitive activity that provides a stillness in the mind.
Using running as a form of meditation offers a variety of things:
- The natural rhythm provides the ideal chance for your mind to be purely in the present and become attuned to your surroundings.
- Discovery of your inner voice. Using this and tuning it into a positive self-talk exercise is a very effective tool to change your focus and give you a boost. Even if it’s just to tell yourself you can reach the next lamp post without stopping.
- Relaxation and tranquility often follow a run. The mind is calmer, and the body feels less stressed and some of the things that seemed overwhelming beforehand suddenly feel achievable.
This year we have designated Mental Health Awareness charity partner in the form of Mind. Now more than ever, it’s essential that we take care of each other. Find out more information about the support Mind offers here.