I’ve been running for years, mostly for my physical health and the social side gained from running as part of clubs and entering events. However in the last year my main reason to run has been for my mental health.
I started struggling with anxiety in 2019 and despite therapy and medication it continued to get the better of me, fuelling depression to become an issue too. I spent months not running at all because I was either too exhausted from all-day anxiety or I felt too low in mood to get myself out of the door or do anything I enjoyed.
After many months, more therapy and some adjustments to medication I was able to find a little motivation for the odd run. I started to find a bit of enjoyment for it again and I also started using it more and more at times when I was anxious. I would often get so anxious especially during the evenings, that I’d just be a fidgety ball of anxiety which I couldn’t relax. Running was a great way to get rid of all that anxious energy that was making me feel both mentally & physically awful and it quickly become one of my go-to coping strategies.
I never found running helped hugely with my depression however a lot of my depression is driven by the anxiety, so by using running to reduce the anxiety it did, in turn, improve the depression.
I completed RED January this year with 2 of my work friends and we raised a whopping £500 for Mind. This challenge hugely motivated me to keep running for a cause that meant so much and knowing my friends were with me all the way kept me going. Recently I needed to take time off work as my anxiety & depression took a big downward turn. Running became almost daily during my time off (with my fabulous dog) and it was one of the only things that gave me some sort of routine during this time. It also continued to be my main way of managing anxiety and every time I successfully used it as a coping strategy I got a sense of pride too.
I’m taking part in miles for mind this year to try to continue my running routine and to raise awareness of mental health issues. I want to keep moving in the right direction now I’m back at work and I know running will play a huge part in me continuing to manage my mental health as well as I can.
My main goal this year is to get back into club running (something anxiety has prevented me from doing so far) and get out regularly with my local club the Red Rose Road Runners because I know in the long run (pardon the pun), having friends to run with will benefit me hugely too.